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  • Environmentalists have increased pressure on companies and governments in Indonesia and Malaysia to “clean up” their supply chains and put an end to deforestation.

    Environmentalists have increased pressure on companies and governments in Indonesia and Malaysia to “clean up” their supply chains and put an end to deforestation. | Photo: Reuters

Published 25 September 2018
Opinion

The rock band Boomerang — which got its start in the mid-nineties and whose new music focuses on conservation — performed at the top of the refinery tanks.

Environmentalists abseiled down storage tanks and unfurled banners at a palm oil refinery in Indonesia on Tuesday in protest at deforestation of the country’s tropical forests.

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They draped banners saying “drop dirty palm oil now”, while other activists clung to the anchor of a cargo ship near the facility operated by a unit of Singapore’s Wilmar International, the world’s biggest palm oil trader.

The 30 activists, including 23 members of campaign group Greenpeace, planned to stay at the facility until 1000 GMT, said Kiki Taufik, head of the Greenpeace forests campaign in Indonesia.

The demonstration is unusual in the Southeast Asian nation, where most protests take the form of marches or rallies.

“We need to do this without a permit, but we take the risk because we believe this action will make the companies and the public hear us,” Taufik said by mobile phone from a rubber dinghy circling the cargo ship moored near the refinery. 

“If we don’t hold companies accountable, the environment will continue to face a threat from industry,” Taufik said. Indonesia is the world’s top producer of palm oil, an edible oil used in everything from chocolate to shampoo. Concerns about the amount of forest and peatland cleared for plantations have plagued the palm oil industry for years.

The president’s office last week issued a moratorium on new permits for palm plantations for three years in what it said was part of an effort to protect forests.

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