Liviya James

Rapid Response Palm Oil

Palm Oil

Mighty Earth’s Rapid Response monitoring system currently monitors more than 3500 oil palm concessions in Indonesia and Malaysia, covering about 21 million hectares, an area more than twice the size of Portugal. Trader performance on grievance handling is presented below.

Performance as of March 8, 2019; click on company logo for more details on grievances.

Links to traders’ grievance logs and information here.


Soy and Cattle: Report 1

Rapid Response Monitoring System

Soy and Cattle, Report 1 | June 2019 

Based on March 2019 alert

Prepared with

VIew as PDF

Largest Steelmaker in the World Sets Carbon Neutrality Goal for Europe

Mighty Earth encouraged by steel industry’s first-ever climate action plan

The largest steelmaker in the world, ArcelorMittal, which is responsible for approximately 0.7 percent of all global carbon emissions, has set a goal of achieving carbon-neutral operations in Europe by 2050.

Given the scope of ArcelorMittal’s operations in Europe, where it is headquartered and maintains a significant operational footprint, this commitment is the most significant in the steel industry to date. This goal, which was first revealed in the company's recently issued Climate Action Report 1, also puts the company closer in line with its European competitors like ThyssenKrupp and SSAB, which have set their own carbon-neutral and fossil-free commitments, respectively.

In 2018, Mighty Earth launched a campaign asking the steel industry to commit to carbon neutrality. This commitment from the world's largest and most influential steelmaker is a sign of progress. However, ArcelorMittal has large and growing operations around the world but has not yet made a carbon neutral commitment for their global operations.

Mighty Earth Campaign Director Margaret Hansbrough offered her analysis after reviewing the plan:

"This commitment by ArcelorMittal demonstrates some meaningful leadership in the industry and is a big step. We particularly appreciate how vocal the company's CEO, Lakshmi Mittal, has been in the release of this climate action plan and on the need for heavy industrial companies like his to play a role in solving our climate crisis. We need every steel industry executive in the world to follow his lead and engage in a meaningful and constructive way.

“However, we have serious questions and concerns about the role of charcoal or ‘circular carbon’ as the report refers to, as a key element in achieving carbon neutrality in Europe.

“The report refers to ‘forestry residues’ to create charcoal for steelmaking. But we know from experience that very little bioenergy is truly sustainable. Over-reliance on wood as a source of energy can create large new pressures on forests, incentivizing deforestation. ArcelorMittal needs to ensure that any charcoal they are currently using or will use in the future is not driving deforestation anywhere in the world. We need to be reforesting our planet as fast as possible to remove carbon. Without extreme vigilance, the use of charcoal could lead to increased deforestation and worsen our climate catastrophe.

“We also have significant concerns about pollution from charcoal. We are taking a close look at this plan and will continue to engage with the company and the industry to push for the most aggressive and achievable emissions reductions possible to stay within a 1.5-degree scenario. In order to do that, global industrial emissions must be cut in half by 2030. We need to see 2025 and 2030 emission reduction goals from ArcelorMittal and other top global producers as soon as possible. Additional commitments for 100 percent clean electricity sourcing and offsetting current steel emissions through reforestation are needed to move the industry in the right direction.

“And while a carbon neutral commitment for Europe is a big step in the right direction, no company or country can rely on any strategy that outsources emissions to another part of the planet. If emissions go down in Europe but grow in India, then no progress has been made. All emissions are global.

“Overall, we are supportive of much of the content in the company's climate report, including its investments in hydrogen technology, support for abundant clean energy sources and infrastructure, access to low-emissions finance tools, and border trade adjustments. And we are in full agreement that there need to be ways of leveling the global carbon playing field to ensure we are not outsourcing emissions.

“Mighty Earth is encouraged by these recent developments, but we remain watchful. We are optimistic about plans for a global certification body, ResponsibleSteel, and plan to engage with the group and all the stakeholders involved. ArcelorMittal's leadership with this group shows they are a leader in the industry, and we look forward to working with them to pave the way for a 100 percent carbon-neutral steel industry."

Meat Company Pollution to Blame for New, Near-Record “Dead Zone” Forecast

On the heels of the official NOAA forecast that predicts a near-record size “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico this summer, environmental campaign organization Mighty Earth is laying the blame at the feet of America’s biggest meat companies.

“In 2018, JBS was responsible for generating 80 million tons of raw sewage – and that’s just what we know about. Dumping that much manure and slaughterhouse waste into our waters is clearly a major threat to our health and downstream prosperity, but the new forecast shows just how disastrous and out of hand the industry’s pollution has become,” said Mighty Earth Campaign Director Lucia von Reusner. “The environmental catastrophe is rivalled only by the economic damage this will do to the Gulf economies later this year.”

A recent Mighty Earth analysis showed that America’s largest meat companies have built slaughterhouses and processing facilities in flood-prone areas throughout the Mississippi River Basin while failing to develop and implement practices to protect water quality. As a result, 145 million tons of untreated animal waste and other pollutants washed freely off industrial farms into the Mississippi River watershed in 2018, endangering local water quality and ultimately contributing to the toxic algal blooms fueling the annual Gulf dead zone.

Agricultural giant JBS, responsible for 80 million tons of pollution in 2018, was the top polluter identified in the analysis, while Cargill and Tyson were the most vulnerable to flooding. Polluted runoff from fields producing the vast quantities of animal feed used by these companies is another major source of water contamination causing the dead zone.

“Given the climate-fueled extreme flooding washing more and more pollution downstream, it would not be surprising if this is ultimately the largest-ever dead zone,” von Reusner said.

NOAA’s official forecast predicts a hypoxic zone of 7,829 square miles. However, researchers at Louisiana State University who contributed to NOAA’s model predict – with a 95 percent confidence interval – an area between 7,889 and 9,583 square miles. The largest ever recorded to date was in 2017, with a dead zone of 8,776 square miles.

“JBS and the other meat companies have gotten away with their reckless practices for so long because the chain of cause and effect is as long as the Mississippi River,” said von Reusner. “But the connection between uncontrolled runoff from industrial farms and the dead zone is clear – and the results are disastrous. It’s time for industrial meat companies to be held accountable for the unacceptable levels of pollution flushed downstream year after year: they must immediately move to implement protections for America’s water.”

Palm Oil: Report 16

Rapid Response Monitoring System

Palm Oil, Report 16 | June 2019 

Prepared with support from MapHubs

VIew as PDF

Indonesian companies:

Bakrie Group: PT MenthobiMitra Lestari

Malaysian companies:

SamlingGroup: SamlingJelalongLPF 0007 (Part 2)

Additional Cases Identified Using Filtered GLAD Alerts: Best Group: PT WanasawitSuburLestari, Unknown Group: PT GapuraAlas Lestari, Leowfamily: PT GunungAgung Perkasa, Unknown Group: PT LaotBangko

Sources for supply chain information:

Supply chain information included in Rapid Response reports is based on latest publicly versions of mill disclosures and grievance logs. Mighty Earth encourages companies to send updated versions of mill disclosures as soon as they become available and any decision to suspend supplies with a given group/company listed in those mill disclosures; please send to [email protected].

Five reasons why your company should be using sustainable natural rubber

Five reasons why your company should be using sustainable natural rubber

For companies that are committed to sustainability, moving toward using ethical rubber is the next big – and essential – step to making your products better for the planet. Conventional rubber harvesting causes environmental devastation on a massive scale. But the good news is: the rubber you use doesn’t have to.

Here are three reasons why rubber harvesting can be harmful – and two reasons why this is the right moment for your company to shift to sustainable natural rubber:

Rubber Production Causes Deforestation

Deforestation for rubber is a problem across Africa and southeast Asia, and it’s accelerating. These areas are biodiversity hotspots, and the habitats of numerous endangered species, including tigers, gibbons, and elephants, are rapidly disappearing.

Rubber Production Destroys Communities

The rubber industry is destroying more than just our forests. Exploitative harvesting is wrecking communities in Southeast Asia and Africa, throwing families off the land where they’ve lived for generations and taking away their livelihoods, all to make way for more rubber farms.

Rubber Production Worsens Climate Change

The immediate harm caused by the rubber industry is serious – but the biggest impacts might not be felt for years to come, because deforestation is a major factor in climate change. At a moment when drastic measures are needed within the next decade to prevent the worst effects of climate change, many companies are stepping up to make a difference, but rubber is an often-overlooked part of the problem. It’s critical that we commit to ending the deforestation caused by rubber harvesting.

Consumers Want Sustainability

Sustainable natural rubber will do more than just allow your company to be part of protecting our planet and communities. As companies seek to distinguish themselves in increasingly competitive markets, surveys show that 66 percent of the general public and 73 percent of millennials will spend more if the product is produced sustainably. This means that being sustainable doesn’t have to come with harm to your bottom line; in fact, it can help your brand.

There is Still Time to Get Ahead of the Game

Fortunately, companies around the world are recognizing the benefits of and are beginning to commit to sustainable and ethical rubber. Just last year, six tire companies adopted “No Deforestation, No Exploitation” policies for their rubber supply chains (bringing the total number across the industry to eight) and many other brands, from condom companies to wetsuit manufacturers, committed to fair and sustainable rubber as well. Additionally, this March, The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) launched the Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber, a promising platform that has the opportunity to bring the whole industry towards sustainability.

Your company can start on this journey right now and be part of the global movement to protect forests, our climate, and human rights.

Want to join stakeholders across the natural rubber value chain for an open and honest discussion about the challenges and opportunities in the world of sustainable natural rubber- and learn how your company can commit to sustainability? Join us for a workshop on Sustainable Natural Rubber – Pathways, Policies and Partnerships, where you’ll have an opportunity to make connections and explore solutions to making rubber more sustainable. Companies at all stages of their sustainability journey are welcome!

Activists Tell Congress: Stop Supporting Dirty Biofuels

Last week, more than 80 concerned citizens gathered in Atlanta to join Mighty Earth, Dogwood Alliance, and more than 20 co-hosting organizations to mobilize against dirty bioenergy. The event, Forests + Food ≠ Fuel, featured a screening of the documentary Burned, an audience discussion on the environmental impact of burning food-based biofuels, and a call-to-action for Congress to oppose dirty biofuels.

Bioenergy is an emerging industry responsible for clearing old-growth forests at an alarming rate across the globe, releasing high levels of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere, to create liquified fuel. Recent lifecycle analyses of biofuels have demonstrated the dangers their manufacturing pose to a healthy environment. Biofuels require heavy application of nitrogen fertilizer – a significant climate polluter – and contribute to the loss of native ecosystems through land conversion. Subsidies for biofuels encourage this destruction by increasing demand for arable farmland and driving rapid deforestation.

The Ways & Means Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives is currently considering legislation to renew an expiring biofuels tax credit. As Ranking Member of the committee and Congressman to Georgia’s 5th district, Representative John Lewis has the capacity to steer the country away from dirty biofuels. At the event, attendees were encouraged to reach out to Congressman Lewis and other members of the Ways & Means Committee to oppose this legislation.

For the past three years, Mighty Earth has championed pro-environment reforms to the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which mandates increasing biofuel consumption through 2022.


Analysis: Spring Floods Exacerbate Pollution from Factory Farms Washing into Gulf of Mexico

Analysis: Spring Floods Exacerbate Pollution from Factory Farms Washing into Gulf of Mexico

Following the unprecedented climate-fueled flooding sweeping the Midwest this spring, Mighty Earth wanted to calculate approximately how much pollution is washing off America’s largest industrial factory farms into American waterways. Industrial meat production is the largest source of water pollution in the United States, yet this industry and its impacts are often left out of discussions around climate change. With the climate crises worsening and the Trump administration working to further roll back environmental regulations on industry, it is critical that the American public understand the sources and vast amounts of pollution washing into our waterways in order to hold specific companies and policymakers responsible for curbing uncontrolled industrial runoff.

The map below shows the locations of company facilities and the average per facility water pollutant data reported to EPA’s TRI database within the most recent 5-year period from 2012-2017. To view each company separately, click the cog icon in the legend to turn on specific company data layers. When clicking on a facility location, scroll down the pop up box to see the pollution calculations.

View the larger map

To assess how much pollution is being generated annually by the facilities of America’s largest meat companies, Mighty Earth analyzed water pollutant data reported by companies to the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) database and annual slaughter data reported in company or industry reports to evaluate total manure waste generated by each company. We mapped this data onto NOAA’s 2019 spring flooding outlook to identify which facilities were located in flood prone areas, and how much pollution those facilities were discharging onto the surrounding landscape. Full methodology and findings are below. We found that:

  • JBS came in as the top polluter, generating approximately 80 million tons of sewage.
  • In total, the top meat companies discharged nearly 220 million tons of manure and facility waste using practices that directly threaten nearby waterways with contamination, by either discharging pollutants directly into waterways, spreading pollutants onto the surrounding landscape, or storing pollutants in earthen impoundments that are highly prone to flooding and overflowing. This is approximately 500 times more sewage waste than is generated by New York City each year, yet unlike human waste, this waste from the meat industry is left untreated when it washes into waterways.
  • Facilities located in the Mississippi Watershed- which flows into the Gulf of Mexico- discharged an estimated 16 million lbs of sewage directly from facilities and 128 million tons of manure from supplying livestock and poultry production facilities.
  • Cargill had the most facilities concentrated in regions classified as by NOAA as ‘high risk’ for flooding in the spring of 2019, while Tyson had the highest exposure overall to flood risk areas.

The facilities of these corporate factory farms produce more sewage waste than some major U.S. cities, and this waste contains a variety of toxins and pathogens dangerous to human health including manure, nitrates, hydrogen sulfide, lead, E. coli, antibiotic resistant bacteria, growth hormones, and more.  Unlike human waste however, sewage from factory farms is not required to be treated before it is released into the surrounding environment. Common methods of disposing of sewage from factory farms are to spread the waste on surrounding crop fields, store it in massive open earthen pits prone to overflow or leaking, or discharge it directly into nearby waterways. Precipitation events like rain or snow then wash this waste downstream, contaminating drinking water across the Midwest with harmful toxins and creating dead zones fueled by toxic algae blooms in major watersheds like the Gulf of Mexico each summer.

While uncontrolled pollution from the meat industry has been a long-standing threat to our waterways, catastrophic floods exacerbated by climate change and the destruction of natural landscape buffers are increasingly turning America’s agricultural regions into open sewers filled in part by the meat industry’s waste. Last fall, Hurricane Florence devastated North Carolina as manure lagoons filled with hog waste overflowed across the landscape. This spring, unprecedented flooding swept the Midwest- the heart of the meat industry’s supply chain. As a result, NOAA has already issued predictions that the annual dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, caused largely by the meat industry’s run-off pollution washing down the Mississippi River, is going to be larger than the annual average. The bulk of the meat industry’s pollution comes from the vast quantities of feed required to raise livestock and poultry, which was the focus of Mighty Earth’s Mystery Meat II report.

Costco's poultry plant in Fremont, Ohio impacted by flooding

The meat industry is highly consolidated, with a small handful of companies controlling between 60-90% of poultry, pork, and beef markets. These companies are responsible for the bulk of the industry’s impacts, yet can drive massive improvements at scale by changing farming practices in their supply chains. Recognizing that climate change is worsening while demand for meat is rising, Mighty Earth is leading a global campaign calling on the world’s largest food companies to require more sustainable farming practices that reduce the environmental devastation from industrial meat production.  You can see more about our work here.

Full Methodology

To calculate the amount of pollution generated by the facilities of America’s largest meat companies, we used company reported water pollutant data to the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) database and annual slaughter data reported in company or industry reports to evaluate total manure waste. This calculation does not include the runoff from producing the vast quantities of corn and soy feed used to raise livestock and poultry. The companies were chosen as those representing 2/3 or more of the poultry, pork, and beef markets. Given irregularly reported company data to the EPA’s TRI, the calculations represent the average per facility data reported to EPA’s TRI database within the most recent 5-year period from 2012-2017, while manure calculations rely on most recent 2018 livestock and poultry processing figures from company or industry reports, and NRCS estimated animal waste characteristics. The facilities were overlaid with the 2019 NOAA flood risk map identifying regions with a >50% likelihood of minor, moderate, and severe flooding. Facility locations were identified using a combination of EPA TRI release data using NAICS codes for food and agricultural manufacturing, USDA data, and company websites.

Former Congressman Waxman: New GAO Report Shows Biofuels “Not a Serious Solution to Climate Change”

A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office has found that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has failed to meet its economic or environmental goals. In response, former Congressman Henry Waxman, now chairman of Mighty Earth, released the following statement:

“The new GAO report, which found that the Renewable Fuel Standard has had a ‘limited effect, if any, on greenhouse gas emissions,’ confirms what research and experience have already shown: biofuels are not a serious solution to climate change. Real climate champions should look to better solutions — clean energy, protecting forests and oceans, and more — instead of any further giveaways to big agribusiness.”

Representative Henry A. Waxman is the Chairman of Mighty Earth, where he continues his decades-long leadership for environmental protection. Previously, Henry spent 40 years serving in the House of Representatives. He served as Chairman and Ranking Member of the Energy & Commerce Committee and Committee on Oversight & Government Reform.

Major Rogue Player in Southeast Asia’s Palm Oil Industry Announces Zero Deforestation Policy

Move follows years of public campaigning by NGOs and market suspensions

BLD Plantation Bhd, a major palm oil producer and refiner operating in Sarawak, Malaysia, has announced a Sustainability Policy committing to “No Deforestation, No Development on Peat, and No Exploitation” (NDPE). The policy covers the company’s own operations and those of its third-party suppliers. BLD has been identified as one of the worst deforesters in the Southeast Asian palm oil industry by both Mighty Earth’s Rapid Response Monitoring System findings and Chain Reaction Research’s analysis.

“BLD might not be a household name, but for years its palm oil has ended up in snacks, soaps, and gas tanks around the world,” said Mighty Earth Senior Campaign Director Deborah Lapidus. “We commend BLD for taking this step and believe it is a sign of the transformation underway in the palm oil industry toward greater responsibility. However, Mighty Earth and other NGOs as well as BLD’s own customers have been urging BLD to end its peatland destruction since at least 2015 and have repeatedly found it clearing until as recently as December 2018.  At this point, BLD has cleared almost all of its plantation. In order for BLD’s policy to have teeth, the company must agree to develop a credible plan to restore the peatlands it has destroyed, and resolve its numerous conflicts over land rights with local indigenous communities.”

This announcement is preceded by years of public campaigning against BLD by Mighty Earth, as well as other international and local NGOs. BLD has been responsible for destroying over 17,500 hectares of deep carbon-rich peatlands (12,000 hectares in just the last five years alone), and encroaching onto the customary lands of indigenous communities, on its palm oil plantation north of Sibu, Sarawak.

Peatland destruction leads to massive climate emissions and has worsened Southeast Asia's haze crisis, which was so severe in 2015 that it led to the premature deaths of more than 100,000 people in the region.

BLD has been suspended by several major global palm oil buyers for violating their NDPE commitments, including traders such as AAK, Bunge Loders Croklaan, IOI, Louis Dreyfus, and Wilmar.

On May 14, Mighty Earth filed a “Policy for Association” complaint with the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), challenging the forest sustainability certification of the logging and palm oil conglomerate KTS Group, the parent company of  BLD, due to its violations of the FSC’s prohibitions on deforestation and human rights abuses. The FSC is expected to decide whether it will process the complaint in the near future.

BLD is one of the largest refiners still providing a market for irresponsible palm oil growers across Sarawak, a region that is rampant with deforestation driven by tycoon-owned logging and palm oil conglomerates.

“As a first step in implementation, BLD must immediately publish the list of palm oil mills and plantations it sources from and take action to remove or reform any suppliers violating its new policy.  If this new NDPE commitment is done correctly, BLD has a chance to play a big role in transforming the palm oil market in Sarawak,” said Lapidus.

Time for the European Union to act to address deforestation and child labour in the cocoa sector

A letter to Vice-President Jyrki Tapani Katainen:

Following the release of highly concerning data from the Global Forest Watch, we—the undersigned organisations working in the fields of environment, human rights, and agriculture—urge you to take action to address deforestation and child labour in the cocoa sector. As the world’s largest importer of cocoa, the European Union has the duty to act.  Your forthcoming “Communication on Stepping up EU Action on Deforestation & Forest Degradation” must include steps to regulate commodities driving deforestation, with cocoa presenting a particularly urgent case.

The recently released Global Forest Watch satellite data reveal that 2018 had the fourth highest rate of forest loss since records began in 2001 - 3.6 million hectares of primary forest disappeared, an area the size of Belgium.

Forest loss shot up the most dramatically in two West African countries: Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. In Ghana, deforestation increased by 60% in 2018, and in Côte d’Ivoire by 26%. Ghana had the highest increase in deforestation in the world last year, with Cote d’Ivoire coming in second.

These two countries have something else in common: they are the world’s two main producers of cocoa, together responsible for around 60% of global supply. 60% of this cocoa is exported to the EU.

Cocoa is known to be a leading cause of deforestation in Ghana & Côte d’Ivoire. Much of this deforestation is also illegal: according to satellite maps, about 30% of Ivorian cocoa is grown in illegally cleared national parks and protected areas. A large quantity of Ghanaian cocoa is similarly tainted by illegality.

Cocoa production is also plagued with child labour, the sector being one of the only ones where child labour is still getting worse. As of 2018, there are nearly 2 million children working in the cocoa sector in West Africa—and this number is still increasing.

So far, efforts to address deforestation and child labour in the cocoa sector have mostly focused around voluntary commitments by the chocolate industry.  But these have been insufficient in addressing the issues: despite nearly two decades of voluntary industry efforts to end child labour in the sector, the NGO-led Cocoa Barometer concluded in 2018 that child labour was still “widespread” throughout the industry – with “not a single company or government… anywhere near reaching the sector-wide objective of the elimination of child labour, and not even near their commitments of a 70% reduction of child labour by 2020.”

Most of this cocoa is headed to the EU. The EU is the world’s largest importer, processor and consumer of cocoa, responsible for about 60% of global cocoa bean imports. The Netherlands, Germany & Belgium bear a particularly heavy responsibility for this crisis, importing almost half of the global trade in cocoa.

This situation and the EU’s failure to act over the past two decades, despite its huge responsibility, is unacceptable.

There is a widely shared recognition within the cocoa sector that cocoa supply chains need to be regulated in consumer countries, in order to tackle these severe human rights and environmental issues that have plagued the cocoa sector for decades.

The industry-led 2018 World Cocoa Conference final declaration concluded that “voluntary compliance has not led to sufficient impact”, and that there is a need to “strengthen human rights due diligence across the supply chain, including through potential regulatory measures by governments”.

Some of the biggest companies in the cocoa supply chain—most recently Mondelez, Mars & Barry Callebaut— have also publicly called on the EU to regulate its cocoa supply chains to tackle deforestation and human rights abuses.

Policy makers agree. In 2012, Members of the Parliament passed a resolution calling on the European Commission to take regulatory action to end child labour in cocoa production -- with no result. France, Germany, and Belgium have all recently passed policies calling for EU regulation for cocoa imports.

The time to talk has passed. The time to act is now.

We ask you to:

  • Ensure that the forthcoming “Communication on Stepping up EU Action on Deforestation and Forest Degradation” includes measures to regulate EU agricultural commodity imports – including cocoa -- to ensure they are free from deforestation and human rights abuses.
  • Urgently call a high-level meeting with the governments of Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, to discuss the recent Global Forest Watch data and come up with a plan, including time-bound steps, to address the issue, in a partnership of primary producing and primary consuming countries.


Han de Groot - Chief Executive Officer, Rainforest Alliance

Heske Verburg - Managing Director, Solidaridad Europe

Obed Owusu-Addai - Managing Campaigner, EcoCare Ghana

Sergi Corbalán - Executive Director, Fair Trade Advocacy Office

Hannah Mowat - Campaigns Coordinator, Fern

Antonie Fountain - Managing Director, VOICE Network

Jean-Claude Natoueu Koya - Executive President, ROSCIDET Cote d’Ivoire

Etelle Higonnet, Senior Campaign Director, Mighty Earth

Martina Schaub - Executive Director, Südwind Institute

Tina Lutz - Tropical Forest Campaigner, Robin Wood

Reinhard Behrend - Chairman, Retten den Regenwald

Arndt von Massenbach - Executive Director, INKOTA

Resistance to Destructive Palm Oil Grows in South Korea

South Korean firms exposed for driving large scale deforestation and human rights abuse in Indonesia

A recent report has exposed the harmful practices of major Korean conglomerates linked to the palm oil industry in Indonesia, leading to public outcry and consequences for some of the companies involved. The report, originally released in Korean and translated into English, is titled Does Spring Come to Stolen Forests, and documents both human rights abuses and environmental destruction: Indonesian workers on South Korean-owned palm oil plantations have routinely been exiled from their land, exposed to hazardous chemicals and pesticides, and forced to work in poor conditions with unstable wages. The South Korean companies are also responsible for cutting down millions of hectares of rainforests, releasing significant amounts of greenhouse gases, and destroying the habitats of critically endangered orangutans, elephants, rhinoceroses, and tree kangaroos.

The report was published by Korea Federation for Environmental Movements (KFEM), South Korea’s largest environmental NGO, and APIL, a Korean human rights legal advocacy group, as part of a palm oil “Week of Action” in March. Their efforts around this report included a press conference, lectures, and meetings with key government ministries and agencies.

A variety of Korean companies are implicated in the report, including POSCO International – Korea’s largest trading company – and Korindo, a notorious Indonesian-Korean palm oil and timber conglomerate involved in massive-scale deforestation. KFEM and Mighty Earth first exposed Korindo in their 2016 Burning Paradise report. Since then, KFEM has worked closely with Mighty Earth to help rein in the South Korean palm oil industry, and the organization continues to break new ground on holding South Korean corporations accountable for their actions.

The report also exposed the Korean Forestry Service’s role in financing nearly 30,000 hectares of rainforest destruction in Papua, Indonesia by POSCO International, a scandal that was covered in an alarming segment (see below with English subtitles) from Korea Broadcasting Service (KBS).

This response from South Korea is evidence of a growing resistance to the destructive practices of the country’s palm oil industry. This progress also disproves the common belief that only Western consumers care about responsibly produced products, and suggests a path forward for curtailing the remaining markets for irresponsibly produced palm oil in Asia.


View the original segment here.



Cement is leading on climate and steel is falling behind

One of the largest cement companies in the world, Heidelberg Cement, just pledged to produce carbon-neutral concrete by 2050 and adopt Science-Based Targets (SBTs). Cement is one of the most carbon-intensive and widely used materials in the world, accounting for roughly 8 percent of all global emissions. The only material that rivals cement’s dominance is steel, which is responsible for roughly the same amount of global emissions every year. Together, they are the two most widely-used construction materials in the world. They are also the cornerstones of the heavy industrial sector, which accounts for 72percent of all industrial emissions. These industries have long been considered the most challenging sectors for emissions reductions – but that perception is shifting fast.

In response to the news, Mighty Earth Campaign Director Margaret Hansbrough said:

“While Heidelberg’s announcement shows that the cement industry is starting to step up in a major way, it also highlights the failure of the steel industry to come to the table. Why is the steel industry failing to lead on climate change? Global steel giants like ArcelorMittal, POSCO, Tata, and Nucor should be making the same kind of commitments as Heidelberg. Instead, they are largely silent or content with incremental actions. No major steel company has stepped up with a significant company-wide commitment to carbon neutrality, clean electricity, or Science-Based Targets. We hope that changes very soon.”

Mighty Earth has been pushing the steel industry to take climate action and make commitments on carbon neutrality.

New Dutch Law Combats Child Labor, Highlights Need for EU-Wide Standards on Cocoa

We are pleased to share excellent news from the Netherlands, where the Dutch Senate has approved a law that will combat the scourge of child labor by holding companies accountable for labor practices throughout their supply chains.

The new Dutch “due diligence” law will be especially important for the cocoa sector. Despite promises from the industry, 2.1 million kids still work in cocoa, 96% of whom are engaged in work considered hazardous.

The Netherlands is the #1 cocoa importing country in the world. Much of the world’s cocoa flows through Dutch ports. Amsterdam ranks as the largest cocoa port in the world. After decades of being a major source of problems, the Dutch have finally opted to be part of solutions.

Their law will likely have positive ramifications for the environment as well as human rights of children. One fundamental building block of ensuring zero child labor in any product - like chocolate for example - is full traceability in supply chains. That selfsame traceability is helpful in making sure cocoa didn’t come from inside a national park and wasn’t tied to destroying forests.

Due diligence laws like the one moving forward in the Netherlands can thus also help address deforestation, which, in tandem with the child labor problem, is cocoa’s other big dark secret. 

Thanks to the leadership of parliamentarians like Roelof van Laar and Attje Kuijken; the drive of NGOs like MVO Platform and SOMO; and the help of companies like Nestlé, Tony Chocolonely, Barry Callebaut, this law provides new hope to everyone working on problematic commodities that are traded through Holland like cocoa, palm oil, and soy.

Around the world, consumers are increasingly articulating higher expectations for the chocolate and other companies they buy from. There is an understanding that major corporations must be held accountable for the negative impacts that their sprawling supply chains have on communities and the environment. And if companies are unable to hold themselves to high enough standards, governments will step in and do it for them.

Major failures of the last few years have made it clear that voluntary corporate action has not effectively addressed child labor or environmental destruction in the cocoa sector. As a result, there are growing calls for an EU-wide due diligence regulation to address these issues. The new effort in the Netherlands echoes recent calls from member states of France, Germany, and Belgium for effective European regulation.

The time for piecemeal approaches is over. The EU should rise to the expectations of its citizens and move quickly to establish uniform due diligence requirements for cocoa.

Palm Oil: Report 15

Rapid Response Monitoring System

Palm Oil, Report 15 | May 2019 

Prepared with support from MapHubs

VIew as PDF

Additional Cases Identified Using Filtered GLAD Alerts: Hayel Saeed Anam Group: PT Kartika Cipta Pratama, KPP Group: PT Kayan Plantation, Unknown Group: PT Palmakharisma Sekawan, Unknown Group: PT Sawit Berkat Sejahtera, Korompis Family and Peak Capital: PF Berau Karetindo Lestari, Mitra Jaya Group: PT Sumber Sawit Mitrajaya, Metro Lestari Jaya Group: PT Sawit Mandiri Lestari, Unknown Group: PT Borneo Agro Sawit, Mariya Family: PT Malindo Jaya Diraja, Puncak Niaga Holdings: Danum Sinar (Sarawak), Unknown Group: PT Marita Makmur Jaya, Unknown Group: PT Borneo Estate Sejahtera, Unknown Group: PT Repindo Sawit Sejati

Sources for supply chain information:

Supply chain information included in Rapid Response reports is based on latest publicly versions of mill disclosures and grievance logs. Mighty Earth encourages companies to send updated versions of mill disclosures as soon as they become available and any decision to suspend supplies with a given group/company listed in those mill disclosures; please send to [email protected].



Mighty Earth Calls on Private Sector to Address Devastating Climate Impacts

Scientists have detected atmospheric levels of CO2 at 415.26 parts per million (ppm), the highest levels ever recorded. In response to these findings, Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz released the following statement: 

“We now have evidence that we are living in a warmer climate than any in human history. The climate isn’t hot because of some general, amorphous forces, but because of specific decisions by specific companies. It’s because companies like McDonald’s still buy meat linked to the companies destroying Brazil’s forests, because BMW cheats pollution controls, because the Trump administration does polluters’ bidding, and because too many Democrats are still negotiating with themselves over a middle-ground solution to an existential crisis.

“This crisis isn’t inevitable, and can be solved – even in this era of government ignoring the problem or making it worse. Food companies can meet their commitments to end deforestation for products like palm oil and chocolate if they just rigorously enforce their existing commitments. Car companies can stop lobbying for weaker fuel efficiency requirements and double down on the race to electrify. And heavy industry, like steel and cement, can build on their progress to decarbonize.

“Just because government isn’t doing its job doesn’t mean the job doesn’t have to be done.”

Skanska UK Pledges Zero Emissions by 2045, Leads Construction Industry in Climate Commitments

Today, one of the top construction firms in the United Kingdom, Skanska UK, pledged to make its entire business carbon neutral by 2045. The company will eliminate emissions from both its direct operations and its supply chain, including materials like steel and cement. This pledge goes above and beyond the commitment made by its parent company, Skanska AB (SKSBF), to be carbon neutral by 2050, and sets a new bar for global corporate sustainability and climate action.

"This is a game changer for the climate crisis and for the construction industry,” said Mighty Earth Campaign Director Margaret Hansbrough. “This is an example of real leadership in a sector that has been slow to move. But now Skanska UK has set the wheels in motion, and there is no going back. We hope that the rest of the company – Skanska AB and all its affiliates – and the broader industry will follow this example quickly."

Materials for the construction industry account for 11 percent of all emissions and, by 2050, are projected to account for 49 percent of all building sector emissions, nearly equivalent to those from operational use of buildings. Steel as a whole, accounts for 7-9 percent of all global emissions.

In 2018, Mighty Earth launched a campaign asking Skanska and its competitors to make commitments to decarbonize their materials supply chain, starting with steel suppliers. The commitment by Skanska UK is the most expansive in the construction sector to date. Skanska is viewed as one of the most sustainable construction companies in the world and ranks in the top 10 in the global market.

"We need green building leaders here in the U.S. and around the world to follow the lead of their colleagues in the U.K.,” said Hansbrough. “Now is the time to make public commitments and set implementation plans toward deep decarbonization in the construction sector. This pledge from Skanska UK demonstrates that there are clear pathways to achieving zero emissions in the construction sector and, by proxy, in the heavy industrial sector. The climate crisis has never been more urgent, and we need more companies to step up and face the crisis head-on as Skanska UK has begun to do."

FSC Allowing Groups Engaged in Deforestation to Continue Profiting from its Eco-friendly Forestry Label

Mighty Earth today condemned the Forest Stewardship Council, a global certification body for responsible forest management, for its failure to police its standards by allowing companies it knows to have engaged in deforestation and human rights abuses to profit from its eco-friendly forestry label.

After recently completing a two-year investigation process prompted by a complaint filed by Mighty Earth on May 11, 2017, the FSC Board has once again delayed its announcement of a decision on the cases against the Korindo Group, a notorious Indonesian-Korean palm oil and timber conglomerate involved in massive-scale deforestation in Papua and North Maluku, Indonesia.

The complaint highlights how Korindo has violated the FSC’s ‘Policy for Association’ by engaging in three of the prohibited activities on its palm oil plantations: carrying out large scale deforestation (more than 10,000 hectares in the previous five years), destroying critical wildlife habitat (high conservation values), and violating traditional and human rights.

“We provided extensive photographic, video, and satellite evidence of 30,000 hectares of deforestation over just two years that was carried out in violation of FSC’s policies. It’s shameful that the FSC continues to allow Korindo to profit from its eco-friendly forestry label,” said Deborah Lapidus, Campaign Director at Mighty Earth. “This is pure greenwashing. FSC is acting like a PR agency for one of the world’s worst forest destroyers. If FSC doesn’t make its determination public soon, it will cease to be a credible certification body.”

Mighty Earth first exposed Korindo’s rainforest destruction in its September 2016 report, ‘Burning Paradise.’ Despite its known scandals, Korindo has been selling timber, plywood, pulpwood, biomass, and newsprint – carrying the FSC’s prestigious label for responsibly produced wood products – to customers like Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and APRIL (Indonesia), Oji Corporation and Marubeni (Japan), and News Corps Australia. The Japanese company Sumitomo has been buying Korindo’s plywood for use in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which has set a “Sustainable Sourcing Code for Timber” that specifies FSC certification as an acceptable standard.

In recent months, Korindo has resorted to hiring lawyers to threaten organizations that have continued to investigate and expose its deforestation activities. In September 2018, Korindo’s Singapore-based law firm served notice on Mighty Earth and several other NGOs around the world, citing claims made by the organizations in reports, letters, and the FSC complaint against Korindo.

“By attempting to intimidate and silence its critics, Korindo is trying to bury the truth,” said Lapidus. “Korindo’s customers, financiers, affected stakeholders, and the public deserve to have access to the FSC's independent findings.”

Mighty Earth is calling on the FSC to immediately expel Korindo and pursue new investigations into the many other FSC-certified groups engaged in deforestation and human rights abuses. To that end, Mighty Earth today filed a new complaint against the KTS Group for its continued violation of the FSC Policy for Association. The complaint documents evidence that KTS’s oil palm business, BLD Plantation, has cleared more than 10,000 hectares of carbon-rich peat forests in Sarawak (Malaysia) in the last five years and violated the rights of local indigenous people. KTS pulpwood customers include the Indonesian paper giants, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and APRIL, which both have commitments to No Deforestation, No Peat, and No Exploitation policies.

“The world lost about 30 million acres of forest last year – an area roughly the size of the state of New York,” Lapidus said. “With this destruction continuing around the world, organizations with the power to do something, like the FSC, must take swift decisive action to protect forests. Now is not the time for the FSC to let these scandals keep piling up.”

Human activity threatens the survival of a million species – what can one person do?

By Mighty Earth CEO, Glenn Hurowitz

This week, the United Nations published its first comprehensive report on biodiversity, and the findings were immediately front-page news around the world. A million species are facing extinction because of human activities. Climate change, deforestation, development, pollution, and disruption are hollowing out our planet’s ecosystems, reducing biodiversity and making the whole system susceptible to collapse.

It’s hard to read these stories. As an individual, it’s even harder to know how to respond. The numbers are large; the scope of the problem and the scale of our impact are tremendous. It can be tempting to ignore the news entirely – studies have shown that people will stop paying attention to stories of misery and suffering when situations seem hopeless. But we cannot afford to tune out now.

Instead, let’s fight that despair together.

First, it’s important to assign the blame where it is due. The decision to clear-cut a forest or dump toxic waste into a river is not one that you or I make in our day-to-day lives. The real consequential decisions – the ones that result in long-lasting harm to our planet – have been made in the halls of government and corporate boardrooms. These are the forces that act at a scale commensurate with the damage done.

Fortunately, that same scale means that these actors can make changes for the better, too. And that’s where you come in. You can help Mighty Earth as we push for key policies that will slow the global destruction. Work with us, and you can maximize your impact.

Here are two things you can do right now:

1. Sign a petition to the CEOs of McDonald's and Whole Foods encouraging them to adopt sustainable sourcing practices for their meat. 

Meat production has a larger environmental impact than nearly any other human activity. The top meat and dairy companies are responsible for widespread water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions nearly equal to the largest oil companies, and the meat industry as a whole is responsible for over 60 percent of global biodiversity loss.

Mighty Earth has released several reports documenting the environmental devastation caused by the largest meat companies. But these companies won’t clean up their acts until their customers demand it of them. And a recent analysis from Mighty Earth found that most food companies – including supposedly ‘green’ sellers like Whole Foods – have no policies to ensure their meat suppliers are using environmentally responsible practices.

Companies like McDonald’s and Whole Foods should set requirements for their suppliers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and water pollution – and they should report regularly on progress toward these goals. These new standards could force their meat suppliers to act. And action by a few big players can help transform an entire industry.


2. Download Mighty Earth's chocolate scorecard and commit to buying responsible chocolate

The UN’s report identified deforestation as a major cause of biodiversity loss. We have seen that deforestation in West Africa – and chocolate is the cause.

Recent data from the World Resources Institute shows that Ghana experienced the largest percentage increase in deforestation in 2018. Neighboring Côte d’Ivoire saw second largest increase. In both countries, this deforestation is driven by the cocoa industry, and it threatens the survival endangered species including chimpanzees and African elephants.

Mighty Earth’s recent Beyond the Wrapper report found cocoa being grown in protected areas, with deforestation increasing in many places. Recent exposés by French and Swiss television outlets also found a major cocoa trader connected to ongoing deforestation inside these protected areas.

Once again, consumer demand will help drive positive change in the industry. As we work with major cocoa companies to improve their traceability and sourcing standards, we are empowered by the knowledge that people are choosing to buy chocolate they know is produced responsibly. That keeps the pressure on the companies to reform their practices.

At a time when many governments around the world are either slow to act or ignoring environmental issues altogether, the private sector offers a forum where action can happen quickly. Right now the rubber industry, long a driver of deforestation in the Mekong, is taking steps to move us toward truly sustainable natural rubber. Mighty Earth’s campaigns in Southeast Asia have led to a dramatic reduction in deforestation caused by palm oil companies. Progress – and victories – are still possible.

Don’t let the headlines discourage you. We can protect the earth and the millions of species living here, but only if we push back against apathy and take action.

Is Nucor falling behind on decarbonization trend in steel industry?

Today during Nucor Corporation's (NUE) annual meeting of stockholders, investors and media are likely to hear highlights of the "record year" that the company had in 2018: record earnings, high performing stock price, leadership in key markets, and new facilities. But despite this indisputable success, is Nucor missing a growing trend in the steel industry?

In August of 2018, Evraz Steel's steel production facility in Pueblo, Colorado signed a precedent-setting PPA for approximately 240 MW of solar energy with Xcel Energy. ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel company, signed a 5 MW solar deal for one of their facilities in Spain just a month ago and, the same week, announced a $72 million investment in the development of low carbon production technology using hydrogen. Both Tata and SSAB have launched their own investments in hydrogen technology. Earlier this week, US Steel announced a $1 billion investment in one of its facilities in Pennsylvania, which will result in major energy efficiency gains. The company also announced it will complete its first electric arc furnace facility in Alabama.

While Nucor is growing, it doesn't appear to be positioning itself to meet growing market demand for lower-carbon products. A company that built its brand on supplying large amounts of recycled steel for green building projects seems blind to the opportunity to maintain its low-carbon status in the market. Nucor could take simple steps – like switching its electricity supply to clean renewable sources and investing in their own hydrogen production research and development – to help it maintain a competitive advantage as the market evolves. Major construction firms like Skanska, for example, are already starting to ask their steel and other material suppliers about the embodied carbon in their materials.

For more information on Mighty Earth’s campaign for clean steel, visit