Does the palm oil industry meet the UN’s Climate Change Convention?

– Koon Yew Yin
The Malaysian Insider
January 30, 2014

What kind of men would cut down these ancient irreplaceable giants trees? Each of them was over one thousand years old. Over a period of a few decades around 1850, 95% of the two million acres of Redwood forest in California were cut and destroyed.

Now they say we are wrong to cut our trees to plant oil palms. What do they say when Brazil cut down their rain forest to plant soya beans? Let us examine the true situation.

Oil palm smallholdings and plantations meet the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change which defines a forest as an area of 0.5 to one hectare having more than 30 per cent canopy cover and having a potential height of two to five metres.

To accuse the industry in Malaysia and Indonesia of contributing to global warming is sheer nonsense. In fact oil palm trees just as with other forest species, produce oxygen for us to breathe and act to counter coal and oil emissions which are the major cause of global warming.

Environmental activist groups such as World Wildlife Fund, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace have launched many campaigns alleging that the expansion of oil palm plantations have destroyed forests, threatened endangered wildlife and robbed indigenous peoples of their land. Many of their arguments are not based on fact but are sensationalized from a small number of cases.

The anti-oil palm lobby in the west includes pro-soya bean and rape-seed groups who see oil palm as a major competitor and have recruited food lobbyists to play on fears of the health hazards of palm oil consumption. Together with environmental activists, these well-funded groups have created trade barriers to the global oil palm trade under the pretext of environmental activism.

In a fair contest amongst competing vegetable oils, palm oil will win hands down. The oil palm tree is the world’s most efficient oil crop because one can harvest five tons of oil per hectare. This is 10 times more productive than soya bean planted in the West, including United States and five times more productive than rapeseed, Europe’s main oil crop.

It is an undeniable fact that palm oil is the cheapest and most popular form of cooking oil for consumers, including many poor families in the west. Should trade barriers to benefit rapeseed farmers who are already heavily subsidised by the European Union (EU) government be successfully implemented, this will hurt consumers all over the world.

Also should alternatives to oil palm be grown, more land would be needed to produce an equivalent volume of oil to replace palm oil, resulting in more deforestation and problems for Mother Earth.

Finally, the western environmental activists’ campaign against oil palm plantation expansion, in the name of “saving rainforests”, is a violation of international norms and Malaysia’s and Indonesia’s sovereignty.

Conclusion: I believe our palm oil industry will remain competitive and profitable for a long time. – January 30, 2014.

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+1 FMN’s avatar – Go to profile
FMN 93p · 1 day ago

Why can’t the Malaysian & Indonesian government take even more drastic actions against these disinformation campaign by Greenpeace, WWF & FoE?

Malaysian & Indonesian governments, including the Palm Oil growers can pool fund to setup counter-lobby group to expose their lies and sue them in court of law for damages/libel/slander/defamation and get compensation accordingly. There are cases where Greenpeace was sued for similar economical damages.

In national level, Malaysian & Indonesian governments can enact laws and rules, to punish these local branch activists of Greenpeace, WWF & FoE, everytime they caused economic disadvantage, by sentencing them to community service or hard labor, with the actual Palm Oil workers in the actual plantation.

In international level, Palm Oil producing countries (Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, African, etc) must form a cartel OPEC-like body to defend its survival and growth opportunities. Speak with one big voice in international forums to highlight the lop-sided treatments and protectionists’ attempt to undermine Palm Oil exports.

The ultimate solution to is to lump ‘EU/US funding to green groups’ together with illegal subsidies by WTO definition, because of its similar objectives. The shady funding is just ‘another mean to justify the same end’.

Palm Oil producing countries then must take unilateral measures by imposing punitive countervailing duty as a backup plan.

  1. #1 by waterfrontcoolie on Saturday, 1 February 2014 - 8:39 am

    Without a doubt, the West has been using their so-called private sector media to push their overall strategy to remain at the top. We are living in a world created through the western media which strive on propaganda which they happily make many western educated think, it is fact based on western democratic- filtered and fair news! After some 200 years of lording over the rest of the world, they can’t believe this can come to an end! Just look at the way they handled pollution problems in China and India; India do have pollution problems; often as bad if worse than China’s but since India is deemed more accommodating, they pretended India has no such issue; hence won’t commend about it! Yes, the palm oil industry in Malaysia and Indonesia should gather its strength to publicize FACTS rather than allowing western politics to play this game without any retaliation!

  2. #2 by winstony on Saturday, 1 February 2014 - 10:35 am

    Well, well, well.
    All the goodness of planting palm oil in this region must come with a caveat.
    And that is: The planting must never, ever be accompanied by the yearly haze that has gone on for more than a decade.
    All the goodness of palm oil will come to naught when the health of millions of innocent people is slowly but surely destroyed by the annual haze.
    As it is now, today, we have bright sunshine and even a Mediterranean climate, compliments of the slowing down of the burning intensity of the sun’s surface.
    But come June, all this will turn to choking haze!!!
    Well, can Mr Koon ensure that we will be spared any more choking yearly ritual???

  3. #3 by digard on Saturday, 1 February 2014 - 7:53 pm

    How come this article was selected by Kit Siang to be published here?
    A rather blunt string of not-too-well reasoned arguments? I can only hope that this is not the future line in this blog … !

    Firstly, nobody (including in the dreaded West) has anything against palm oil in general. Over.
    – Environmentalists have problems with mono-cultures, be they in Europe, the USA or Asia.
    – Palm oil trees totally sore the earth, so that no other plants can grow thereafter. This is not a prohibitive argument, but to be considered.
    – Square miles of native jungle containing millions of diverse flora and fauna are regularly, and on purpose, felled and burned just to plant oil palms. This results in a non-reversible damage to the variety of species, up to groups of humans whose habitat and livelihood is basically the jungle. A jungle that, by the way, produces much more oxygen than a palm oil plantation.
    – Last not least, ‘clearing jungle’ by annually simply burning square miles of native jungle, respectively old palm plantations do much harm, lead to suffering including death of some parts of the population all over South-East-Asia.

    I am confident that the author of that – sorry – silly article is well aware of these facts, but rather jumps in at a time filled with efforts of large swathes of the population to re-orient towards a more inside-looking perspective on life, to foster a feeling of pride towards one’s rather recent traditions and methods for generating income.

  4. #4 by khch01 on Sunday, 2 February 2014 - 2:24 am

    If my memory serves me right, the West had rejected the timber exported from Malaysia decades ago, citing the timbers from Malaysia were not green. The definition for Green is something like a tree felled must be replanted back. Coincidentally or not the ministers / VVIP were seen planting trees nationwide to save the environment.

    Timber products are considered Green if they were extracted from the sustainable reforestation. The in-thing now is the Green Technology and several buildings were now accorded Green Building Status if Green Building Materials were used for the lbuilding.

    But Green Building Material is not about Timber anymore. Solar Panels are considered Green because it is energy saving technology or are several materials manufactured from the by-products of the petroleum.

    Malaysian has produced a lot building materials using oil palm which shall qualify as Green Building Materials. But would the qualification be affected if it doesn’t meet the climate change criteria?

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