Palm Oil


There Would Be No Smoke If There Were No Fires

Sarah Henderson, PhD
, , UCS

Right now Indonesian farmers are burning hundreds of thousands of hectares of the oldest rainforests on earth to clear land for plantation crops. The resulting smoke has covered Southeast Asia in a thick haze, affecting the health of hundreds of millions of people. This happens every year, which is incredibly frustrating because the Indonesian government made slash-and-burn agriculture largely illegal in 2001, following the severe regional haze it generated 1997-1998. On paper those laws were strengthened in 2009 and again 2014, but in actuality the 2015-2016 season is likely to be the worst on record.

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4 Reasons to Pay Attention to the Deadly Haze in Southeast Asia this Year

, analyst, Tropical Forest & Climate Initiative

Residents in Southeast Asia are currently being subjected to a heavy blanket of smoke and haze spreading across the region. The haze originates in large part from the burning of forests and peat soils in order to prepare land for agriculture, such as palm oil. But reading news reports and even seeing pictures cannot always convey the daily experience in the way that first-hand accounts can. Read more >

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PepsiCo’s New Palm Oil Commitment: Transparency, Trust, and the Company You Keep

, former policy analyst, Tropical Forest and Climate Initiative

Since starting our work on palm oil, UCS has taken a position that a company’s zero deforestation commitment needs to cover all of its operations, not just the products it sells or manufactures in the US. US consumers holding a company accountable for its global operations is not a new concept. The successful boycott of Nestlé in the US and Europe, which started in the late 1970’s, was the result of practices by that company in the developing world. Consumers not only want to buy products that don’t harm the planet but also want to buy products from companies they trust. Read more >

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Cleanup on Aisle 8: Why Supermarkets and Other Retail Stores Need to Clean Up Their Palm Oil

, analyst, Tropical Forest & Climate Initiative

9/15/2015 Update: Since the publication of this blog, Costco has updated their palm oil commitment. Their commitment now includes specific language around the protection of forests and goes beyond a RSPO-certified commitment. However, the timeline for compliance has been pushed to 2021. Importantly, Costco has also committed to no-burn policies and some level of traceability, though they do not specify if this traceability is to the plantation level.
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The SPOM High Carbon Stock Study: A New Square Wheel

, former policy analyst, Tropical Forest and Climate Initiative

Imagine you hear that a group of businesses has hired some of the best minds in the world to invent a new thing called a “wheel.”

“Strange,” you say, “don’t we already have wheels?” In fact, aren’t most businesses, consumer groups, and customers pretty firmly in support of these current “wheels?” Read more >

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