That rainforest is one of the most biodiverse habitats on earth. In Sumatra there are 465 species of birds and in Borneo 420. Sumatra is the only place in the world that the Sumatran tiger lives. Between 2004 and 2008, according to the US Great Ape Trust, the orangutan population fell by 10 per cent on Borneo and by 14 per cent on Sumatra. The decline of the orangutan in the face of deforestation motivated by palm oil has been described as genocide.
Ok, so we get the picture, palm oil is really bad. That's ok, because as we saw yesterday, humans are pretty clever, and as soon as we work out that something is really bad, we stop doing it.
No-one's going to accept palm oil. It's clearly a dreadful thing. Nobody's going to eat anything that says 'palm oil' on the label. Certainly nobody in their right mind is going to put it in their petrol tank and burn it. Right?
Wrong. Palm oil is being sold as biofuel. International agreements to increase the use of biofuel are directly contributing to the increased destruction of rainforests to grow palm-oil plantations. These international agreements seek to decrease the impact of climate change by reducing the emissions from burning fossil fuels. Unfortunately, the land that the plantations are being grown on is not only ex-rainforest, it's also ex-rainforest that grew on ex-peatbogs. The emissions from cutting down the rainforest and burning the peat are greater than from the fossil fuels they seek to replace.
And as to not eating anything that says palm oil on the label? There's no obligation to declare palm oil on ingredients lists. Any food that lists 'vegetable oil' as an ingredient may or may not contain palm oil.