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Updated: 15 min 45 sec ago

In pictures: Brazil’s Indigenous land defenders stand up to Bolsonaro’s brutal agenda

1 hour 12 min ago

Indigenous Peoples defending the Amazon and other important environments in Brazil are facing a human rights crisis. Indigenous lands, as well as being essential for the survival of Indigenous lives and cultures, are important in the fight against deforestation and climate change.

Bolsonaro has encouraged land grabs by invading farmers and miners. In the first nine months of 2019, 153 Indigenous territories suffered from such invasions, according to preliminary data published by the Indigenous Missionary Council.

Firmly on the frontlines of Bolsonaro’s assault on human rights and the environment, Indigenous activists from Brazil are demanding not a single drop more of Indigenous blood is spilled to protect their land.

As a result, they are pressuring the Brazilian government and agribusiness companies to comply with international agreements on climate change and human rights. This includes highlighting that many Brazilian products are produced in areas where Indigenous Peoples have seen their lands invaded and been the victims of violent assaults.

Recently, this violence has resulted in another tragic death. On 1 November 2019, a member of the Guajajara people – Paulo Paulino Guajajara – was murdered during an ambush by loggers in north-eastern Brazil.

A group of Brazilian Indigenous leaders will visit the UK as part of tour of European countries. They are asking European governments and companies to address the serious threats that agricultural exploitation and mining pose to their survival.

Meet some of the Indigenous leaders and learn about their fight in the gallery below.


The post In pictures: Brazil’s Indigenous land defenders stand up to Bolsonaro’s brutal agenda appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

100,000 people demand televised election debate on climate change

3 hours 8 min ago

More than 100,000 people have signed a petition by Greenpeace UK calling for leaders of all political parties to take part in a national televised debate on the climate and nature emergencies in the run up to next month’s general election [1].

The campaign for a televised climate debate – which is being led by the climate charity, Possible, with the support of a wide range of charities and NGOs [2] – has already received the backing of Labour, the Scottish National Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Green party [3]. The strong public support demonstrated by the number of signatories to the petition will heap pressure on the Conservative party, which has not yet responded to requests for a debate on the issue, to take part.

According to the results of a public poll conducted last month, a majority of Britons say that climate change will affect how they will vote in the upcoming election and almost two-thirds of people agreed the climate emergency is the biggest issue facing humankind [4].

With the recent flooding that has devastated communities across the north of England, Greenpeace says that it is imperative that all parties’ environmental policies and plans for tackling the climate and nature emergencies are put under the spotlight.

Rebecca Newsom, head of politics at Greenpeace UK, said:

“Politically, we are in unprecedented times. But Brexit or no Brexit, the environmental crises that we currently face are the most pressing issues of our time. Voters are aware of this and it’s clearly going to influence how they cast their ballot. This is why all party leaders must showcase their policies for tackling the climate and nature emergencies to the public, and allow them to be scrutinised, by taking part in a climate and environment TV debate.

“The next government will shape how the UK responds to these challenges, how quickly and effectively we move away from fossil fuels, electrify our transport systems and insulate our buildings. We need a government that is committed to protecting and restore our oceans and forests, transforming how we produce our food and boost new clean jobs, with support for workers and communities to benefit from the transition ahead. This election could be make or break for the environment and climate.”


[1] Greenpeace UK petition

[2] Climate and nature debate – Statement of Support

[3] Labour, Lib Dems and SNP call for TV election debate on climate crisis

[4] Climate crisis affects how majority will vote in UK election – poll

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Categories: Activist News

Air pollution shows the climate emergency is also a health emergency

Fri, 2019-11-08 16:41

Air pollution in general is many things, but air pollution on our roads primarily comes from diesel vehicles. These produce particulate matter (PM) – tiny particles that can get into the bloodstream – and nitrogen oxide gases. This chemical soup can irritate airways and aggravate and trigger health conditions.

London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) charge, which began in April 2019, has produced some promising early results. The scheme, which charges those driving in central London based on the pollution their vehicle produces, has reduced harmful gases from air pollution by a third.

The ULEZ will be expanded to include much of Greater London in 2021. The charge has raised over £40m for Transport for London since it began, and a £2,000 scrappage scheme is now available for low-income and disabled road users.  But it is still a London-only scheme – other cities must fend off pollution themselves. 

Only one city, Bristol, has taken steps to ban diesel cars. While welcome, the move serves to highlight how little the UK government has done to tackle this growing national health crisis.

Air pollution’s negative health impacts continue to dominate the airwaves

On the same day the ULEZ results were announced, a study found that high pollution days in cities across the country caused spikes in cardiac arrests, strokes or severe asthma attacks. In response, the chief executive of NHS England stated that “it’s clear that the climate emergency is in fact also a health emergency.”

A long line of harrowing scientific studies on air pollution prove this fact. In the UK, around 36,000 early deaths each year are thought to be caused by the serious health impacts of air pollution. In addition, air pollution is now thought to damage every organ in the human body.

Pregnant women and children are particularly at risk: studies have confirmed that, in the case of miscarriages, air pollution poses a similar risk as smoking. Scientists are even finding traces of air pollution in placentas

Air pollution stunts child lung growth, causes and triggers asthma, and was thought to play a key role in the death of nine year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah following an asthma attack.

Some researchers have even concluded that air pollution is linked to mental health problems. This includes depression, a reduction in intelligence equivalent to having lost a year at school, and aggressive behaviour. 

As with the climate emergency, highly polluted communities are often those that are more socially and economically disadvantaged – meaning the impacts fall on those least responsible for the crisis.

Air pollution requires urgent, effective action

Although ULEZ is a step in the right direction, the UK lags behind other European countries in terms of joined-up thinking on air pollution. In the Netherlands, about 27% of all trips made are by bicycle, compared with 2% in Britain. In Norway, well over half of new cars sold are electric, and all cars have been banned from central Oslo, with only a few exceptions.

As well as expanding schemes like ULEZ nationwide, the UK government should incentivise “active travel” including walking and cycling – and subsidise public transport or make it free. 

The government has the power to bring forward the phase-out of petrol and diesel cars to 2030 from 2040 – a move necessary to meet climate objectives as well. The chair of the UK’s Committee on Climate Change, John Gummer, was so unimpressed with the government’s efforts on climate they’ve dubbed ministers “Dad’s Army”, after the 70s TV show.

Currently, there are no legal limits for PM in UK environmental law. The recent environment bill missed an opportunity to propose firm regulations for PM in line with World Health Organisation targets.

Government must set legal standards

Instead of government action, the blame is shifted to individuals. BP, for example, has released a carbon footprint tracker, showing that they regard action on the climate emergency as personal responsibility issue. It is not

Individuals’ main responsibility is to elect governments that take a strong line on regulating the negative effects of company activities that damage our health.

Thankfully, 2019 has been the year that school strikers, Extinction Rebellion activists and ordinary citizens of all ages have been demanding that our government acts like it’s an emergency. Two-thirds of voters polled agreed that the climate emergency was the biggest issue facing humankind, and over half say it will affect how they vote.

Climate change, like air pollution, might be difficult to visualise – but increasing health impacts will mean both will become harder to ignore. 

Any future British government should make like London and Bristol, and legislate nationally on air pollution. Not only will it make it easier to reduce emissions, it will also limit health impacts and therefore reduce spending on healthcare for those affected.


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Categories: Activist News

All those times the anti-fracking campaign rocked

Thu, 2019-11-07 16:46

Wherever the fracking companies have set up drilling sites, people from nearby towns and villages have stood shoulder to shoulder in protest. Together with other groups and organisations, they frustrated attempts to extract gas and oil from beneath the British countryside.

Concerns about the climate emergency and the impact on local communities drove people to stand in the way of the fracker – often literally. Now the government has brought fracking operations in England to a halt (joining Scotland and Wales in an effective ban), it’s time to celebrate the most outstanding moments from a long and brilliant protest.

That time a quiet village made a lot of noise

In 2013, fracking company Cuadrilla set up shop in the Sussex village of Balcombe. Local residents were not happy. Together with activist group Reclaim the Power, they spent weeks and months getting in Cuadrilla’s way and making headlines. The Balcombe protests helped catapult fracking up the national agenda.

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Hundreds of people took part in a month-long protest – the Rolling Resistance – outside Cuadrilla’s site in Lancashire. In the face of strong pressure from the police, vehicles in and out of the site were blocked in a variety of creative ways.

That time Emma Thompson baked a cake in a field

Emma Thompson and sister Sophie competed in a special frack-free Bake Off on the site of Cuadrilla’s proposed fracking site in Lancashire. Despite an unfortunate incident with a muck spreader, the Bake Off was a success. And the winner? You’ll have to watch to find out.

That time three activists were sent to prison (but later released)

Cuadrilla’s trucks were immobilised when three men climbed on top of the cabs. For about three days and nights, they stayed put. They became the first environmental protesters to receive prison sentences since the 1930s, although fortunately they were released on appeal a few weeks later.

Those times fracking rigs popped up in unexpected places

Ex-prime minister David Cameron was a big fan of fracking. So it was only fair he should get a taste of what a drilling site next to his constituency home would be like. And MPs got to see a fracking site up-close when one appeared outside the Houses of Parliament.

All those dedicated nanas

The fracking protests involved people of all ages and one group became a movement in their own right. The anti-fracking nanas of Lancashire were on hand to explain why fracking is senseless, and to stage a calm, peaceful protest in front of Cuadrilla’s gates every Wednesday morning.


The post All those times the anti-fracking campaign rocked appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

Fracking halted in massive climate victory – but it’s not yet completely banned

Tue, 2019-11-05 12:14

The government has announced an immediate stop to fracking for oil and gas, saying it is “following the science” on the increased likelihood of earthquakes near drilling sites.

This doesn’t mean fracking is completely banned in England – not yet at least. But even so, the surprise announcement represents a huge leap forward for people living near fracking sites who have campaigned tirelessly for years.

It’s also a hard-earned victory for environmentalists across the UK, who battled against the fracking industry and its supporters in government for years, likely causing public opinion to steadily shift against it.

Activists also oppose fracking on the grounds that fossil fuel extraction must be phased out if the government is serious about tackling the climate emergency.

Why has fracking been halted, and why now?

The fracking moratorium is thought to have been triggered by a report from the UK Oil and Gas Authority into earthquakes caused by fracking. The report stated that it was not possible to predict whether fracking would cause tremors and how strong those tremors would be.

However it’s also hard to ignore the timing on the eve of a general election where MPs have been warning that support for fracking is losing votes.

There has been plenty of evidence of seismic activity. Earlier this year, fracking company Cuadrilla caused earthquakes up to well over the limits set by regulations, with a tremor of 2.9 magnitude in Lancashire.

The government has stopped short of an outright ban, however, suggesting plans to frack could be revived if it could be proved it could be done safely. But scientists say it is unlikely fault lines, and therefore earthquakes, can be avoided when drilling with current fracking technology.

Aside from potential earthquakes, fracking would definitely make it even more difficult for the UK to meet its emissions targets and put the brakes on the climate crisis. Drilling for more fossil fuels when we should be moving swiftly to cleaner energy has never made sense.

What’s the impact on the fracking industry?

It’s bad news for the industry, which has already complained that strict controls on tremors mean fracking will be unable to make a profit.

It has also become clear that UK fracking would never reach the levels of production and profit seen in the US, where local landowners were able to make significant sums of money by selling drilling licenses.

The realities of the UK’s geography and geology are likely to mean that fracking is unlikely to be viable, and therefore not an attractive prospect for energy investors.

While there is skepticism from political opponents on the reasons for the pause, rowing back could be difficult for any future government. The likelihood of earthquakes from fracking is unlikely to change. Neither is the strength of local opposition, who kept the pressure against the industry up and continued to protest despite heavy police presence and arrests.

This also means that companies who might have wanted to start fracking in the UK might think about putting their money elsewhere.

Whatever the reasons, that fracking is off the cards for the foreseeable future is still well worth celebrating.

Does this mean the government is tackling the climate emergency?

Not really. On the same day as the fracking announcement, the government approved the UK’s first deep coal mine in decades. And exploration and production of oil and gas that does not involve fracking – like conventional drilling – are still allowed.

That’s why Greenpeace and many other organisations have written to the main political parties to demand an accelerated timetable for bringing the country’s net carbon emissions down to zero.

That means ditching all fossil fuels, not just gas from fracking.

The post Fracking halted in massive climate victory – but it’s not yet completely banned appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

Coalitions call for nature and climate change to be put at the heart of election manifestos

Mon, 2019-11-04 13:32

In two separate letters more than 30 NGOs, with a combined supporter base of over 13 million people – including the Women’s Institute, Woodland Trust, UK Health Alliance, and Greenpeace – are urging all political parties to put the environment at the heart of their election manifestos.

Almost 70% of Britons want urgent political action to tackle the climate crisis and protect the natural environment, and more than half said climate change would affect how they would vote. Environmental concerns are clearly a major priority for Britons and must be adequately addressed in party manifestos in a way that reflects the urgency of the crises we face.

The letters, sent by The Climate Coalition and Greener UK respectively, complement each other across a range of policies that would mean cleaner air, more green spaces that benefit people and wildlife, and better protection for our coastlands and marine habitats.

Despite being the first major economy to set a legally binding target for net zero emissions, the government came under heavy criticism by the Committee on Climate Change for its failure to get us on track for a safer and cleaner future by implementing the necessary policies to limit global temperature rises.

Groups represented by The Climate Coalition want all recommendations from the government’s climate advisors to be implemented and strengthened to reflect the net zero commitment in the next year. They also call for public spending to be increased from 2% to the 5% needed to help get the UK on track towards ending our contribution to climate change, and for the net zero target to be brought forward to 2045, at the very latest.

The letter from members of The Climate Coalition also calls for bold manifesto pledges from all political parties to help expand green industries, such as renewable energy; bring the phase out date for petrol and diesel vehicles forward by 10 years from 2040 to 2030; and invest £1 billion per year to upgrade poorly insulated housing, prioritising vulnerable people and those on low incomes.

In October, the government introduced its Environment Bill, described by ministers as “ground-breaking”. However, the bill fell short in a number of areas. Greener UK is urging all party leaders to back an ambitious Environment Bill that provides a legally binding commitment to existing standards for things like water and air quality and nature protection. The coalition is also calling for a bill that provides a truly independent and powerful watchdog that can hold the government to account over its environmental commitments, as well as a tighter framework surrounding legally binding targets.

Members of the Greener UK coalition are also calling for reforms to farming that would see agricultural payments based on public goods such as providing clean air, water and thriving wildlife, rather than the amount of land owned.

John Sauven, executive director at Greenpeace UK, said:

“Our environment is drifting into uncharted and dangerous waters. Instead of bobbing about on a wave of inaction, it’s time for politicians across all political parties to take the helm.

“As carbon emissions, global temperatures and sea levels continue to rise, public concern over the climate and nature emergency is also rising. Election manifestos must reflect this by providing clear and ambitious policies that will take us to a net zero carbon world and restore nature as quickly as possible.

“This isn’t about winning over voters with warm words. It’s about committing to a tangible roadmap that will help save the planet from climate and ecological collapse.”

Martin Lines, Nature Friendly Farming Network UK Chair, said:

“The Nature Friendly Farming Network represents over 1000 farmers who have come together to champion a way of farming which is sustainable and ensures our British countryside is bursting with wildlife.

“British farmers see the effects of climate change on a daily basis, and there has never been a more important time to ensure that the new government gets on with delivering their climate targets– to protect our beautiful countryside, and farmers livelihoods.

“This is a critical time for agriculture in the UK. Decisions made post-Brexit could ensure that British farming secures a sustainable future and does far more to help nature to survive and thrive.”

Dr Richard Smith CBE, Chair of the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change, said:

“On behalf of over 650,000 health professionals across the country, the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change calls on party leaders to use the election to commit to strengthening policies which protect our environment and climate and consequently our health. As the Chief Executive of NHS England says, the climate emergency is a health emergency.

“Air pollution is responsible for around 40,000 premature deaths each year, so the UK’s commitment to banning new petrol and diesel cars should be brought forward to 2030 to reduce pollution and save lives.”

Lynne Stubbings, Chair of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) said:

“WI members are clear that we need urgent action to tackle climate change, stop our oceans and wildlife being destroyed by plastic pollution, and to protect our environment for the future.

“The WI has been at the forefront of efforts to protect our environment since the 1920s with campaigns ranging from raising awareness of ocean pollution, to the scourge of litter and the need to tackle wasteful excess packaging.

“Up and down the country, WI members are playing their part by planting community gardens to support our precious pollinators, planting trees, and raising awareness of the threats we all face due to climate change. This local action needs to be matched by clear commitments from all political parties to ensure that we achieve our ambition of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, end the tide of plastic waste and restore our nature.

Nigel Harris, CEO for Tearfund and Tufail Hussain, Director of Islamic Relief UK, said:

“Caring for and being good stewards of our planet is central to most faiths. We stand in solidarity with those most affected by climate change – often the most poor and vulnerable – and call for the next Government to urgently stop contributing to climate change, and play their part in creating a just world for future generations.”

Abi Bunker, Woodland Trust Director of Conservation and External Affairs, said:

“Let’s not shy away from the truth. It will be a challenge, it will cost money, it will mean tough choices, but the human race is at a crossroads for our environmental future. If we are serious about tackling the climate and nature crisis we have to act, that’s the reality we live in, tough choices, big challenge, but we can all rise to meet it head on.”


[1] For PDF copies of the two letters please email [email protected]

[2] The full list of signatories to the two letters include:

Greener UK: Client Earth, CPRE, E3G, Friends of the Earth, Green Alliance, Greenpeace, Marine Conservation Society, National Trust, RSPB, Wildlife Trusts, Woodland Trust, WWF, WWT

The Climate Coalition: BMC, Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, Community Energy England, Friends of the Earth, Green Alliance, Green Christian, Greenpeace, Islamic Relief, Julie’s Bicycle, Nature Friendly Farming Network, Oxfam, Pect, Possible, Practical Action, Quakers, Slow Food UK, St Nicks, Tearfund, the WI, UK Health Action on Climate Change, WinACC, Women’s Environmental Network, Woodland Trust, WWF

The post Coalitions call for nature and climate change to be put at the heart of election manifestos appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

‘Certified sustainable palm oil is a con’, says Greenpeace

Mon, 2019-11-04 12:26

Consumers are being misled by a labelling scheme widely used by UK supermarkets to claim that the palm oil they use is 100% certified sustainable, says Greenpeace.


Analysis published today by Greenpeace International in its report Burning Down the House reveals that members of the industry body responsible for the ‘certified sustainable palm oil’ label have been at the centre of the 2019 Indonesia fires crisis. The crisis has seen an area five times the size of Greater London burn. [1] Members have also been linked to more than 1.2 million hectares of fires across Indonesia since 2015.


Richard George, Head of Forests at Greenpeace UK said:
“Consumers are being conned by ‘certified sustainable palm oil’, a phrase that’s bandied about by supermarkets and big brands attempting to distance themselves from deforestation.

“But the phrase is utterly meaningless because the body responsible for certifying palm oil is made up of some of the most destructive growers and producers in Indonesia. This is a henhouse insurance scheme run by foxes.”


Greenpeace used satellite data to analyse fire hot spots across Indonesia in 2019 and official government burn scar data from 2015-18 to identify which palm oil producer groups were most strongly linked to the country’s recurrent fires crises. [2] 


More than two-thirds of the 30 producer groups with the greatest exposure to fires are members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) [3]. Roughly three-quarters of the fire hot spots in palm oil concessions in 2019 were on land controlled by RSPO members.


All major supermarkets in the UK use RSPO certified palm oil and rely on the RSPO to ensure the palm oil they use does not contribute to forest destruction. [4] 


The analysis also reveals that brands Unilever, Mondelez, Nestlé and Procter & Gamble are each linked to nearly 10,000 fire hotspots, and traders Wilmar, Cargill, Musim Mas, and Golden-Agri Resources all buy from producers linked to fires. Some are even buying from individual palm oil concessions under investigation for illegal fires. Together, the four traders supply more than three-quarters of global palm oil and all are RSPO members. [5]


Annisa Rahmawati, Senior Forest Campaigner at Greenpeace Indonesia said:
“Big brands and traders have created a facade of sustainability. But the reality is that they source from the very worst offenders across the board. The companies responsible for the fires and those who financially benefit from them should be held accountable.”


Global companies have made commitments to stop deforestation by 2020, but instead, forest loss has accelerated, and commodity-driven deforestation is the highest driver. [6]


Governments around the world have yet to take serious action against companies or goods linked to the fires.[7] Greenpeace is calling for companies to be held accountable.[8]


According to reports, more than 900,000 people in Indonesia have suffered acute respiratory infections due to the smoke haze from this year’s fires,[9] and nearly 10 million children are at risk of lifelong physical and cognitive damages due to air pollution.[10] Between 1 January to 22 October 2019, the fires released an estimated 465 megatonnes of CO2, which is close to the UK’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions.[11]


Richard George, continued: “If truly sustainable palm oil is ever to exist, globally we have to use less of it. Right now, more than half the palm oil coming into Europe is for so called biofuel. This has to stop. Brands and supermarkets must also commit to using far less palm oil and ensure any they do use comes from suppliers that are 100% deforestation-free.”




Download the full Burning Down the House report here: 

Photos and Videos can be accessed here:


Notes to editors:

[1] Official data released by the Indonesian government shows that between January and September 2019 forest fires have burned 857,756 hectares of peat and mineral soil – an area five times the size of Greater London:


[2] The producer groups linked to recurrent fires are defined as those linked to more than 250 fire hotspots in 2019 and/or those linked to the largest burned areas in 2015-2018. Under RSPO rules, a group should be a member at a level which covers all of its palm oil operations, therefore a group’s operations are here considered RSPO-linked where any part of the group is currently an RSPO member. Greenpeace analysis found that RSPO members are linked to the majority of fires in Indonesia today. 


[3] The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) was set up by the industry in 2004 and its stated aim is to “transform the markets by making sustainable palm oil the norm”. But only in November 2018 did it ban its members from destroying forests and it still hasn’t enforced this rule. RSPO members that produce palm oil have that palm oil ‘certified sustainable’ and brands buying RSPO palm oil can claim it is ‘certified sustainable’.


[4] Aldi “100% certified palm oil” –

Tesco: “100% of the palm oil used in our UK Own Brand products is certified to the RSPO standard, and we are working to achieve RSPO certified palm oil for all our international businesses”:

Sainsburys: “We are proud that 98% of our palm oil is certified sustainable”:

Waitrose: “100% of the oil and palm-based ingredients in Waitrose & Parters products are certified sustainable to standards set by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).”:

Asda: “In 2018 Asda used 16,705 tonnes of sustainable palm oil from the RSPO scheme” AND “since 2015 all of the palm oil (that goes in things like margarine, soap and detergents) has been sustainably sourced”:

Coop: “100% of the palm oil we use in Co-op branded products is covered by The Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)”:

Lidl: “100% of our products are certified to the RSPO Palm Oil standard”:

Morrisons: “All palm oil and derivatives used as an ingredient in Morrisons branded products must be sourced through a Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certified supply chain system”:


[5] Traders’ market share is according to the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), based on 2015 data.


[6] According to the New York Declaration on Forests (NYDF) Progress Assessment. More details about companies’ failed deforestation commitments can also be found in Greenpeace USA’s recent briefing.


[7] For example, the Indonesian government has not seriously penalised palm oil companies responsible for the largest burned areas in recent years, according to Greenpeace Indonesia analysis. Furthermore, Singaporian and Malaysian governments have also not sanctioned companies, despite the fact that half of the palm oil producers responsible for Indonesia’s 2019 fire hotspots are based in these countries.


[8] For example, Greenpeace is calling on the European Union to pass new laws to ensure that all products, including palm oil, sold on the European market are free from deforestation and related human rights abuses.


[9] According to Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), as cited in Tempo.


[10] According to UNICEF, as cited in France24.


[11] Emissions from Indonesia’s forest fires are based on the Global Fire Emissions Database (GFED). UK annual emissions based on the most recent 2014 data from Climate Watch. Many fires are also within the last remaining habitat of critically endangered orangutans and other vulnerable species.


Contact: [email protected]

The post ‘Certified sustainable palm oil is a con’, says Greenpeace appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

5 problems with ‘sustainable’ palm oil

Fri, 2019-11-01 17:06

Chances are you’ve heard of palm oil, and you know it has a pretty bad rep. But what is palm oil – and why are people so up in arms?

1. Palm oil is cheap – and we’re using way too much of it

Palm oil is a vegetable oil – like sunflower or olive oil. It’s made from the fruit of oil palm trees – Elaeis guineensis – which come from West Africa but were taken to Southeast Asia in the 1960s. Palm oil can be produced sustainably – but a lot of it isn’t.

Palm oil is great for big food and cosmetics companies, because it’s cheap and versatile. It’s used in many of the things we use or eat every day: shampoo, bread, toothpaste, detergent and even snacks and chocolate bars. 

Not only do roughly half of the processed goods in the supermarket contain palm oil, but millions of tonnes of palm oil are going into the tanks of people’s cars. More than 50% of palm oil coming into Europe (but not the UK) is for biofuel.

2. Palm oil is a major cause of forest destruction

The palm oil industry has been a disaster for the world’s forests, wildlife and climate. Palm oil is mostly grown in Indonesia and Malaysia, two tropical countries with large areas of rainforest home to tigers, orangutans and other species that are found nowhere else on earth.

Palm oil companies have been destroying these rainforests because they want more land to grow oil palm trees. 

Around 24 million hectares of rainforest were destroyed in Indonesia between 1990 and 2015, according to official figures from the Indonesian government. That’s an area the size of the UK. Palm oil and paper companies are the main causes of this destruction.

3. Palm oil is devastating the world’s wildlife

Destroying forests and replacing them with palm oil plantations wipes out critical habitat for animals that have nowhere else to go. Half of the Bornean orangutan population has been wiped out in just 16 years

More than three-quarters of Indonesia’s Tesso Nilo national park, home to tigers, orangutans and elephants, has been converted into illegal palm oil plantations

Globally, 193 critically endangered, threatened and vulnerable species are threatened by palm oil production.

4. ‘Certified sustainable’ palm oil is a con

In 2004, the palm oil industry set up the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). RSPO members have their palm oil ‘certified sustainable’ and brands using this palm oil get to claim that their palm oil is ‘sustainable’. 

Most supermarkets in the UK and many consumer brands like Nestlé and Mondelez use RSPO palm oil in their products.

But the RSPO is about as much use as a chocolate teapot. It took 14 years for the RSPO to ban its members from destroying forests – which it finally did in November 2018. It still hasn’t enforced this new rule – and RSPO members are still destroying forests and getting away with it.

RSPO members were right at the centre of Indonesia’s 2015 forest fires crisis. This year, the fires returned – and roughly three-quarters of the fires linked to palm oil companies were on RSPO members’ land. This means that so-called ‘sustainable’ palm oil growers are – in some cases – at the forefront of Indonesia’s environmental crisis.

5. Brands have broken their promise to end deforestation for palm oil 

Back in 2010, some of the world’s biggest brands promised to protect forests and clean up the palm oil industry by 2020. That’s less than two months away – and companies are miles away from ending deforestation for palm oil. 

Many still don’t even know where their palm oil comes from. In fact, there’s no way for brands to tell how much forest is being destroyed to supply them with cheap palm oil. 

Brands have broken their promise to clean up the palm oil industry. To save Indonesia’s rainforests brands have to use less palm oil – and any palm oil they do use must come from suppliers that are 100% deforestation-free.


The post 5 problems with ‘sustainable’ palm oil appeared first on Greenpeace UK.

Categories: Activist News

Super-trawler Margiris was operating in UK ‘Marine Conservation Zone’

Thu, 2019-10-31 08:36

The Marine Conservation Zone, named Offshore Overfalls [1], covers 594 km2 and was designated in January 2016. It was established to protect the sandy seabed in the area. This provides an important habitat for various species, including an undulated ray which is classed as ‘endangered’ on the IUCN threatened species list [2].

According to the JNCC website, no specific management measures have been implemented since the area was designated [3]. This means various types of fishing effort, including the trawling method employed by the Margiris and other industrial trawlers, are permitted.

Chris Thorne, an Oceans Campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said:
“This highlights the UK government’s laissez-faire attitude towards ocean protection, and its continued preference for paper parks that are little more than lines on a map, failing to properly protect Britain’s spectacular marine life.

“Just 7 km2 of UK waters are fully protected marine areas, the most effective tool for ocean protection and increasing resilience to climate change. Our government speaks well about ocean protection, but these are empty words until it takes serious action to replace the broken network of paper parks, which allow supertrawlers like Margiris to fish in supposedly protected areas right on our doorstep.”

The Margiris spent significant time fishing in the Offshore Overfalls Marine Conservation Zone, as shown by Marine Traffic data collected by Greenpeace [map tracking images available upon request]. This is permitted under the Marine Conservation Zone’s management plan, which commits to ensuring the “subtidal coarse sediments, subtidal mixed sediments, subtidal sand” marine habitats “remain in a favorable condition” [4]. However, no specific management measures have been put in place since it was designated in 2016.

The Margiris is capable of processing 250 tonnes of fish each day, and can carry 6,000 tonnes. Its owners stated the ship was in the Channel to catch mackerel and pilchards. While fishing in the Channel, its average catch per day was 68 tonnes of Mackerel and 2 tonnes of Pilchards. This means the Margiris caught a total of 1,610 tonnes of fish in UK waters. 

The owners claimed there was zero bycatch. This claim has been challenged by local fishermen, politicians and conservation groups, who have expressed serious concerns about how a ship of this size can operate sustainably in UK waters. 

Fully protected marine areas are the most effective tool for ocean protection [5], because the elimination of extractive or damaging activities protects the entire ecosystem, from surface to seabed. However, currently just 7km2 of UK waters are fully protected. Scientists have called for 30% of the world’s oceans to be fully protected by 2030 [6]. This is the minimum required to allow fish stocks to recover. The remainder would need to be sustainably managed, including reviews on permitted vessel sizes and gear types.  


Photo/video – images and video of the Margiris fishing in the English Channel from [insert date] are available here

Greenpeace UK Press Office – [email protected] or 020 7865 8255
James Hanson, Press Officer – Greenpeace UK – [email protected] – 07801 212 994



[3] The Offshore Overfalls Marine Conservation Zone is currently “processing towards being well managed”, according to the Joint Nature Conservation Committee. This means it is “unlikely to be moving towards its conservation objectives”. The latest update also states that “progress is ongoing with regards to the recommendation of a fisheries management proposal to the European Commission.”


[5] Fully protected marine areas are agreed to be the most effective tool for ocean protection. For example, a meta-analysis of scientific studies showed that the biomass of fish assemblages is, on average, 670% greater within ocean sanctuaries (i.e. fully protected areas) than in unprotected areas, and 343% greater than in partially-protected MPAs. Fish biomass is a powerful metric to use in assessing MPA success because it provides a strong indicator of the health of fish assemblages and thus ecosystem health., The elimination of extractive and damaging activities protects marine life from the sea surface to the seabed, preserving important ecological and biogeochemical links, ensuring the protection of the whole ecosystem and the safeguarding of related ecosystem processes.

[6] Scientists calling for 30×30 protection is in Greenpeace report 30×30: A Blueprint for Ocean Protection, available here:×30-a-blueprint-for-ocean-protection/

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