Press Release: Sustainable palm oil production critical to halting climate change

Today, the European Palm Oil Alliance (EPOA) and IDH – The Sustainable Trade Initiative publish the State of play: Role of Europe in Driving Sustainable Palm Oil detailing Europe’s progress in sourcing sustainable palm oil within global production and usage patterns in 2020. Detailing the successes and gaps, the report aims to outline the EU’s position in an evolving sustainable palm oil landscape, the future of CSPO, and increased focus on traceability and ‘No Deforestation, No Peatland and No Exploitation’ (NDPE). Main findings include:

European palm oil imports mostly sustainable

The report shows that Europe is an important market for sustainably produced palm oil: 90% of Europe’s palm oil imports for food, feed, and oleochemicals (FFO) are RSPO-certified. While CSPO is entering Europe, the analysis argues that this does not necessarily translate into demand or use further down the supply chain. Accordingly, some companies and areas of industry are still behind in their progress and are in need of support in advancing commitment to CSPO.

CSPO 2020 Palm oil

The palm oil market is changing

While the use of sustainable palm oil has increased over the last years, the total use of palm oil for FFO in Europe has decreased, with some companies avoiding the use of palm oil altogether due to its negative reputation and the attractiveness of palm oil-free marketing. In other regions, demand and use is on the rise. It remains vital that the European market drives and supports the production and consumption of CSPO globally amidst these shifting markets.

Actions needed beyond certification

In addition to existing and proposed legislation regarding sustainable sourcing, tied to support for producing countries, those in the private sector need to go beyond certification. Robust certification schemes have a strong role to play but should not be treated as a silver bullet. The rising climate emergency demands urgent action by European countries and other consumer countries in close cooperation with producer countries. Encouragingly, the report shows that palm oil industry has already started to shift away from a sole focus on the 100% CSPO target, stepping up and diversifying efforts to drive positive change. In particular, it shows the progress made in traceability and the implementation of ‘No Deforestation, No Peatland, and No Exploitation’ (NDPE) commitments.

Sustainable palm oil is at the heart of climate change action

Last week at COP26 in Glasgow, more than 100 countries promised to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by the end of 2030. If this is to be achieved, sustainable supply chains for those commodities associated with deforestation must become the norm. To that end 28 countries, representing 75 percent of global trade in key products that threaten forests such as palm oil, have committed to a set of actions to deliver sustainable trade.

Join us in support for sustainable palm oil

While this report demonstrates progress, it is clear the work is not done. This report lays out the playing field for governments, industries, and civil society actors to collaboratively drive progress beyond 2020.  “At IDH we work to transform the palm oil sector towards becoming fully sustainable, while delivering the highest yield oil crop. At the core is our joint belief that a sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil supply chain is not only possible, but essential’’, states Daan Wensing, CEO of IDH. Frans Claassen, chairman of EPOA adds that “addressing major changes in complex supply systems will require partnership and cooperation from all actors in the supply chain. We urge businesses, governments and NGOs to join us in building a coalition to unleash sustainable practices at all levels of the palm oil supply chain.”

Download full press release here.