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Palm Oil Trader IOI Is Blockaded By Greenpeace Activists In Rotterdam




All imports and exports from IOI, the palm oil trader, were blocked off this morning in Rotterdam harbour – the palm oil gateway into Europe – by Greenpeace activists.

Palm oil from companies involved in forest destruction, peatland fires and child labour is still flowing into Europe and the US through IOI facilities, a new report by Greenpeace International has revealed. [1]

Two Indonesian men who have been directly affected by forest fires are blocking access to the refinery with eight activists. The Greenpeace ship Esperanza has moored to the dock at the back of the refinery, preventing palm oil being unloaded from incoming oil tankers.

IOI suppliers are linked to serious environmental and human rights abuses such as destruction of Indonesian rainforests, starting illegal fires and child labour. Palm oil from these companies continues to flood into Europe and the USA, research by Greenpeace reveals. Findings include:

  • Destruction of primary forest in Papua and Kalimantan.
  • Development on peatland
  • Extensive uncontrolled fires including evidence of deliberate setting of fires in land clearing .
  • Human rights abuses: use of excessive force, exploitation of workers and evidence of child labour.
  • Non-compliance with the criteria and principles of the sustainability label (RSPO)
  • Plantation industries such as palm oil have been clearing rainforests and draining peatland for years, creating ideal conditions for the extensive forest fires that have ravaged Indonesia over the past two decades. [2] Last year’s fires were catastrophic, blanketing the region in a choking smoke haze for months. Between July and October 2015 more than 2 million hectares of Indonesian forest and peatland burned [3], an area half the size of the Netherlands. The resulting smoke haze caused an estimated 100,300 premature deaths across South East Asia in 2015, a Harvard and Columbia study revealed last week.[4]

The two Indonesian men have travelled from West Kalimantan in Indonesian Borneo to the Netherlands to bring their protest against IOI to the company’s European base. One of them is Nilus Kasmi. Fires caused Nilus and his family great hardship last year – they were exposed to the toxic particles and fumes which closed schools, offices and brought business to a standstill.

“I had hoped the government and companies could resolve the fire crisis, but their failure to do so made me realise I have a responsibility to preserve Indonesian forests,” said Nilus Kasmi. Both he and his companion Adi Prabowo have been trained by Greenpeace to locate, prevent and extinguish fires.

Palm oil trader IOI is unknown to the general public.

“This serves the company well, as it can get away with practices that could not bear public scrutiny, ” said Annisa Rahmawati, forest campaigner at Greenpeace Indonesia. “Together we will change that. IOI should know that the world is watching and that there is no market for palm oil that is so destructive to Indonesia, the habitat of endangered species, our shared climate and the people of South East Asia.”

Greenpeace has delivered IOI a way to lift the blockade, by leaving a statement on its doorstep for the company to sign and by doing so commit to a sustainable palm oil supply chain. If IOI agrees publicly to commit to protect forests, Greenpeace will end the action and lift the blockade.

Palm oil is a commodity used in more than half of popular supermarket products [5], ranging from biscuits and chocolate to shampoo and baby powder.

“We are not anti-palm oil, but we know its production can and must be sustainable. It is entirely possible to grow the palm oil industry without clearing or burning more forest,” said Annisa. “The dirty practices of companies like IOI and its suppliers are morally objectionable, economically harmful and unnecessary. Moreover, consumers are unknowing and unwilling accomplices to these practices. This has to stop.”


Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations



green housing techniques

Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?

The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.

New Construction Options

One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.

In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.

The Simple Retrofit

From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?

Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.

Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.

Big Innovations

Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.

In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.

Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.

It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.

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How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions



auto industry to clean air pollution

Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

Public Health Crisis

It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.

Eco-Friendly Vehicles

It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.

Used Cars

Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.

Public Perception

With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.


The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.

With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.

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