Strengthen Sustainable Palm Oil Targets in the UK

  • by: Judith B.
  • recipient: Department for Food, Agriculture and Rural Affairs, United Kingdom

Palm oil seems to be in almost everything, from margarine to shampoo. It’s a cheap and versatile ingredient, suitable for almost every diet. However, its versatility comes at a high price. Palm oil production is the main cause of massive deforestation in the tropics, especially in Indonesia. It is the reason that the orang-utan and many other rainforest animals are on the edge of extinction.

Not all palm oil is this bad. It can be grown relatively sustainably, and some is. In the UK, retailers are voicing their concern that official government targets on the proportion of sustainable oil in products are actually far weaker than their own.

When corporations are calling for stricter regulation, it is a sign that something is seriously wrong. It is usually the complete opposite. The world cannot afford to lose its remaining rainforests and the UK has to play its part.

Tell the UK government to get serious about palm oil.

We the undersigned ask that you set far stronger targets for sustainable palm oil. While it is commendable that the issue is under consideration, the current recommendation from Defra of merely asking retailers, manufacturers and others to “work towards” sustainable palm oil by 2015 is not nearly enough. In fact, this is less ambitious than the targets many major retailers have already set for themselves.

The world’s rainforests are in a state of emergency at the moment, disappearing at an ever-increasing rate with a corresponding loss of biodiversity and carbon storage. One of the primary causes is unsustainable palm oil production. It is crucial that the UK plays its part and weak, vague targets are not nearly enough.

We ask that you fully commit to the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification standards, which currently would do far more to minimise the UK’s impact on the rainforests than the well-meaning but ineffective advice provided so far.

Thank you for your attention.

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