Environmental group, Greenpeace, has achieved a major victory in its campaign to protect rainforests from the ravages of the palm oil industry.

Last week, it sent protestors dressed as orang-utans to the London HQ of Unilever which uses palm oil in its Dove product range and dozens of other volunteers protested at a Unilever factory near Liverpool which makes Persil soap powder (which also contains palm oil.)

Initially, Unilever bosses said they wouldn’t be forced into a quick decision on the matter, but within days they appear to have changed their tune, promising support for a moratorium on oil from unsustainable sources.

Greenpeace claims Unilever was buying its palm oil from firms that are destroying valuable rainforest and peatland areas.

As well as affecting millions of people who depend on the area for their way of life and endangered species such as the orang-utan, it was also bad news from a climate change point of view.

The Greenpeace protest followed the release of a new report: How Unilever Palm Oil Suppliers Are Burning Up Borneo  and in the face of huge protests, Unilever is now suggesting that by 2015, all its oil will be from  sustainable sources

The Greenpeace report claimed that Unilever suppliers are actively involved in rainforest destruction, pushing species like the endangered orang-utans to the brink of extinction and speeding up climate change.

Hundreds of thousands of people have since joined the  Stop Dove destroying rainforests campaign and in the space of a week, more than quarter of a million people watched the Greenpeace video about Dove  on YouTube.

Greenpeace says as one of the world’s biggest users of palm oil, Unilever has a huge influence on how suppliers operate.

Greenpeace UK director John Sauven said “Unilever’s commitment to sourcing sustainable palm oil will be meaningless unless its suppliers stop trashing Indonesia’s rainforests – this is why the moratorium is so important. Every day that Unilever keeps buying palm oil from these suppliers, orang-utans are pushed closer to extinction.”

Greenpeace wants Unilever to use its position as Chair of Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to encourage other member companies to follow suit. (It claims that Unilever has held this infuential position for the past six years – yet during that period not a single drop of sustainable palm oil has actually been produced.)

Currently, according to Greenpeace, Indonesia is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, partly due to the destruction of its forests for palm oil.

And it says that although Unilever’s website suggests it makes all efforts to be environmentally and socially responsible, the reality is very different when it comes to palm oil.

If you’d like to support the Greenpeace protest, you can email Unilever through its website
There’s also information on how to add a picture to the growing Dove protest picture gallery.




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