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. Greenpeace urges Indonesia to stop burning forest

by Staff Writers
Singapore (AFP) Nov 8, 2007
Greenpeace urged Indonesia on Thursday to stop its "reckless" destruction of rain forests to plant palm oil in the archipelago, which will host a global climate summit next month.

The environmental group also called on foreign food and cosmetics companies to shun "bad" palm oil produced as a result of deforestation in Indonesia.

"Indonesia's peatlands are some of the richest stores of carbon in the world, and their destruction is one of the most reckless and avoidable contributions to global warming," Greenpeace said in a statement released here.

Emmy Hafild, executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, urged consumer goods producers such as Unilever, Nestle and Procter and Gamble to boycott palm oil produced by plantations involved in illegal forest clearing.

"Some of the best-known brands in the world are literally cooking the climate," Hafild said at the launch here of "Cooking The Climate," the group's new report on the palm oil industry, part of its preparations for the Bali summit.

The December 3-14 talks, expected to involve more than 100 government ministers, are aimed at securing an international agreement to negotiate a new regime to combat climate change when the current phase of the landmark Kyoto Protocol to fight global warming ends in 2012.

Greenpeace also urged Indonesia's two closest neighbours, Singapore and Malaysia, to press Jakarta to enforce laws banning the destruction of forests with peat layers deeper than three meters (9.9 feet).

Singapore and Malaysia are hit every year by choking haze from fires fuelled by the forests' rich peat content, and Greenpeace said forests with peat layers as deep as eight meters have been destroyed.

Greenpeace's Hafild also said additional demand from the transport sector for biofuel was contributing to a "gold mine mentality" toward palm oil production.

Demand for palm oil has been boosted by the growing popularity of biofuel to ease dependence on traditional fossil fuels blamed in large part for climate change.

But Greenpeace International forests campaigner Sue Connor said destroying forests to produce palm oil in order to replace fossil fuels as an energy source was like "throwing petrol at a fire to put it out."

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