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. 
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.  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 , 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.
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 , 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.”
Road Trip! How to Choose the Greenest Vehicle for Your Growing Family
When you have a growing family, it often feels like you’re in this weird bubble that exists outside of mainstream society. Whereas everyone else seemingly has stability, your family dynamic is continuously in flux. Having said that, is it even possible to buy an eco-friendly vehicle that’s also practical?
What to Look for in a Green, Family-Friendly Vehicle?
As a single person or young couple without kids, it’s pretty easy to buy a green vehicle. Almost every leading car brand has eco-friendly options these days and you can pick from any number of options. The only problem is that most of these models don’t work if you have kids.
Whether it’s a Prius or Smart car, most green vehicles are impractical for large families. You need to look for options that are spacious, reliable, and comfortable – both for passengers and the driver.
5 Good Options
As you do your research and look for different opportunities, it’s good to have an open mind. Here are some of the greenest options for growing families:
1. 2014 Chrysler Town and Country
Vans are not only popular for the room and comfort they offer growing families, but they’re also becoming known for their fuel efficiency. For example, the 2014 Chrysler Town and Country – which was one of CarMax’s most popular minivans of 2017 – has Flex Fuel compatibility and front wheel drive. With standard features like these, you can’t do much better at this price point.
2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica
If you’re looking for a newer van and are willing to spend a bit more, you can go with Chrysler’s other model, the Pacifica. One of the coolest features of the 2017 model is the hybrid drivetrain. It allows you to go up to 30 miles on electric, before the vehicle automatically switches over to the V6 gasoline engine. For short trips and errands, there’s nothing more eco-friendly in the minivan category.
3. 2018 Volkswagen Atlas
Who says you have to buy a minivan when you have a family? Sure, the sliding doors are nice, but there are plenty of other options that are both green and spacious. The new Volkswagen Atlas is a great choice. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient third-row vehicles on the market. The four-cylinder model gets an estimated 26 mpg highway.
4. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
While a minivan or SUV is ideal – and necessary if you have more than two kids – you can get away with a roomy sedan when you still have a small family. And while there are plenty of eco-friendly options in this category, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is arguably the biggest bang for your buck. It gets 38 mpg on the highway and is incredibly affordable.
5. 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel
If money isn’t an object and you’re able to spend any amount to get a good vehicle that’s both comfortable and eco-friendly, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel is your car. Not only does it get 28 mpg highway, but it can also be equipped with a third row of seats and a diesel engine. And did we mention that this car looks sleek?
Putting it All Together
You have a variety of options. Whether you want something new or used, would prefer an SUV or minivan, or want something cheap or luxurious, there are plenty of choices on the market. The key is to do your research, remain patient, and take your time. Don’t get too married to a particular transaction, or you’ll lose your leverage.
You’ll know when the right deal comes along, and you can make a smart choice that’s functional, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.
How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life
Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense. But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?
For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out. A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession. This bigger issue was that of climate change. And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.
Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more. He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland. There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.
The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done. With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet. The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind. As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness. The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small. The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty. As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.
We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help. And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet. Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change. You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed. But so is he. Every change starts with one.
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