Environment, Carbon and Forests
Latest Defra figures show the market for sustainable palm oil continues to grow, but will the UK meet its target?
Consumption of sustainable palm oil in the UK has increased for the fifth year running, according to the latest report from the government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
The second CPET Annual Review on UK Consumption of Sustainable Palm Oil shows there has been a steady rise in the proportion of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) being imported into the UK, with consumption increasing from 277,961 metric tonnes in 2012 to 321,61 metric tonnes in 2013. The figures, which include segregated and GreenPalm certified oils, show consumption has doubled since 2009 when just 155,000 metric tonnes was used.
There are a couple of big assumptions in Defra’s work on UK consumption of sustainable palm oil. The first is that CSPO, palm oil certified according to the RSPO standard, goes far enough in protecting against some of the worst environmental and social impacts of the industry – it doesn’t, although it is arguably better than standard palm oil. The second is that GreenPalm certificates should count towards the UK’s goal of achieving 100% sourcing of sustainable palm oil. They shouldn’t.
Even putting those issues aside, the report paints a frustrating picture. Although CSPO now accounts for between 55% to 71% of total consumption, too much of this is still attributed to GreenPalm certificates rather than physical CSPO. According to Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) data, only around half of the CSPO produced is being bought – the reality is that the UK, and many other countries with similar commitments, could and should be much closer to their target.
Defra’s report provides evidence that the UK food industry is making significant strides towards its goal of sourcing exclusively sustainable palm oil. This is evidenced by the commitment of our members to review and change their sourcing policies. After a slow start, the hospitality industry is taking the issue very seriously and addressing its responsibility.
However, there are outstanding challenges, including the ubiquity of palm oil in products as diverse as lemonade and toilet cleaner. The number of different certification schemes and the lack of transparency in products using palm oil derivatives are other challenges the industry faces.
It is excellent news that the UK is making continued progress towards its commitment to source 100% sustainable palm oil. Palm oil is a cheap and versatile product, and the industry has contributed greatly to the economies of the tropical countries where it is grown. However, there are considerable concerns about the negative environmental and social impacts that the industry is having, particularly in driving deforestation, carbon emissions from conversion of peatlands, and social issues including land rights of indigenous peoples.
The RSPO provides a good starting point for driving the transformation of the industry to one that provides a net benefit to environment and society. Of course, sustainability is a journey of continuous improvement, and we look forward to the RSPO and its stakeholders raising the bar further to achieve a truly sustainable oil palm industry in the future, as well as providing evidence that certification is achieving its aims.
The RSPO welcomes the positive announcement on sustainable palm oil from the UK. The RSPO is aiming for 100% CSPO across Europe by 2020. The fact that certified sustainable palm oil now represents between 55% and 71% of all palm oil consumed in the UK is good progress and encouraging for other countries that this target can be achieved. We are particularly pleased to see an increasing trend towards physical (segregated and mass balance) certified sustainable palm oil.
The UK is currently the only government in the world to join forces with industry and NGOs towards achieving 100% certified sustainable palm oil. It is retailers and food manufacturers that are driving the change and increase in demand towards the target, and we now need others, particularly the food service/catering sector, government procurement and the animal feed industry to join their efforts.
The Food and Drink Federation is pleased to see that Defra’s data show continued progress by the UK palm oil supply chain towards sourcing 100% certified sustainable palm oil by the end of 2015.
In particular, the report demonstrates that demand for physical supplies of sustainable palm oil increased by more than 16% between 2012 and 2013. Even stronger progress should be seen in 2014 as leading food and drink manufacturers strive to meet updated company commitments by using only traceable supplies of sustainable palm oil.
The Federation of Wholesale Distributors welcomes this report and the continued focus on sustainable palm oil targets. This is an area where Britain is leading the way on what is a global issue and the UK government should be applauded for taking the lead.
Holland is the only other country doing as detailed reporting on the usage of sustainable palm oil. There are obstacles, such as the availability of sustainable derivatives and the challenge of auditing, but initial progress towards the target is good.Continue reading...
Beyond enforcement: Communities, governance, incentives and sustainable use in combating illegal wildlife trade
Symposium to be held February 2015, South Africa
IUCN CEESP/SSC Sustainable Use and Livelihoods Specialist Group (SULi), the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the Austrian Ministry for the Environment, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions (CEED) and TRAFFIC are holding a symposium exploring the roles of communities, governance, incentives and sustainable use in combating illegal wildlife trade, to be held near Johannesburg, South Africa, 27 February–1 March 2015.