An initiative that aims to improve the social and environmental performance of palm oil production is faltering in its mission by failing to establish strong performance standards on greenhouse gas emissions and pesticide use, argues a new statement issued by WWF, the initiative’s biggest green supporter.
The statement, published on the eve of a major meeting of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), says that RSPO certification alone can no longer be considered an adequate measure of environmental sustainability for “progressive” companies. It says companies that aim to minimize the impact of their palm oil production, trade, and/or consumption should now target performance standards that include public reporting of greenhouse gas emissions, eliminating the use of Class 1A and 1B pesticides, and establishing policies that exclude the purchase of oil palm fruit from illegally cleared or occupied lands. Those standards were excluded from the recently updated RSPO principles and criteria, which will go to a vote at the RSPO meeting on April 25 in Kuala Lumpur.
The statement from WWF is especially significant given the group’s role in the formation and progress of the RSPO. For years WWF has pushed for producers, traders, and consumers to adopt RSPO certification as the standard for responsible production and use of palm oil. The effort has resulted in a steady increase in RSPO-certified palm oil’s market share, but also complaints from some environmentalists who say the initiative does not go far enough to limit deforestation, conversion of peatlands, or social conflict.
Two excellent sites to learn more about palm oil and the RSPO are Palm Oil Consumer Action at http://www.palmoilconsumers.com/index.html and Say No To Palm Oil at http://www.saynotopalmoil.com/palm-oil.php.