Greenpeace blockades palm oil ship in Indonesia

JAKARTA, Nov 16, 2007 (AFP) -Greenpeace blockaded an Indonesian tanker carrying palm oil for export on Friday, november 16th as it tried to leave port on Sumatra for a second day, an activist said.


Greenpeace ship the Rainbow Warrior, blocks the MT Westama tanker in Dumai - Photo : AFP

"What we've done is we've anchored off the ship which is at berth and there's not enough room for it to be able to leave its berth," said Sue Connor, Greenpeace's international forest campaigner.

"We're here and we're not allowing it to leave," she told AFP from the environmental group's flagship carrier, the Rainbow Warrior.

Police had boarded the ship several times, along with the harbourmaster, at Riau province's Dumai port but the situation remained calm, she said.

Connor said the protest aimed to highlight the role palm oil plays in driving global deforestation and peatland destruction, major contributors to climate change. The group is calling for the Indonesian government to implement a moratorium on deforestation and peatland destruction, she said.

Palm oil plantations are rapidly expanding in Indonesia as global demand explodes -- because it is seen as a green alternative to fossil fuels. It is also used in a range of consumer products such as cosmetics and biscuits.

Connor said companies that use the oil, such as Unilever and Procter & Gamble, were not taking enough of an initiative in determining where their supplies came from, she said.

This was despite them being members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, which promotes the use of sustainable palm oil.

"They need to be doing what they can do to demand from their suppliers to know where the oil comes from. They're turning a blind eye to the problem," Connor said.

"On the one hand they say they're committed, they're members (of the RSPO) but unless they make sure they are not actually destroying forests... really they're not doing anything. RSPO is threatening to be a greenwash," she said.

The blockaded ship, the MT Westama, was aiming to take some 30,000 tonnes of palm oil to India.

"We know that some of their suppliers are companies who are actively destroying peatlands in Riau province," Connor said.

According to Wetlands International, 14.6 billion tonnes of carbon -- equivalent to a year's global greenhouse gas emissions -- are released in Riau when forests and peatlands are cleared or burned.

The Rainbow Warrior is in Indonesia ahead of a global climate change conference taking place in Bali next month.

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