Liviya James

Dutch pension fund exposed on national TV for financing Posco Daewoo's rainforest destruction

On May 5th, a national TV consumer show in the Netherlands, Kassa, ran a 16-minute segment exposing the Dutch Pension Fund’s financing of Posco Daewoo, a Korean trading conglomerate that has destroyed over 270 square kilometers of pristine rainforests in Papua, Indonesia to grow palm oil.  Mighty Earth, Friends of the Earth Netherlands/Milieudefensie, and the Korea Federation for Environmental Movements have been calling upon the Dutch pension fund (ABP, and its Asset Manager, APG) to take action on Posco Daewoo.  Despite months of attempting constructive engagement by APG, Posco Daewoo has failed to follow through on its promises to reform.  As this story makes clear, it is past time for the Dutch pension fund and other global financial institutions to withdraw their support of Posco Daewoo and its parent company, Posco.  For further information, see this feature story, "Largest Dutch Pension Fund Involved in Clearing Rainforest", in the Dutch magazine One World, by Leontien Aarnoudse.

View the original segment here.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8Ej6F5E-MI

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8Ej6F5E-MI


Breaking: Cargill and Bunge Fined for Destroying Protected Natural Areas

The Brazilian government’s IBAMA environmental enforcement agency announced this week that it has caught red handed five soy traders and dozens of commercial farmers purchasing soy connected to the destruction of protected natural areas.

According to wire reports, the companies caught in IBAMA’s “Operation Soy Sauce” driving illegal deforestation are the American agribusiness giants Cargill and Bunge, as well as ABC Indústria e Comércio SA, JJ Samar Agronegócios Eireli, and Uniggel Proteção de Plantas Ltda. The fines totaled $29 million, or 105.7 reais.

“Again and again, we have warned Cargill and Bunge that they need to stop their large-scale deforestation,” said Glenn Hurowitz, CEO of Mighty Earth. Mighty Earth has conducted a series of undercover investigations that found Cargill and Bunge driving extensive deforestation in Latin America, including in the Cerrado, the region where IBAMA identified these companies engaged in illegal ecosystem clearance. Footage, including aerial drone videos showing the vast scope of deforestation, from the Cerrado field investigation can be found here. “Despite years of evidence and calls from their customers for change, Cargill and Bunge have continued to drive destruction of these extraordinary natural ecosystems.

“Bunge and Cargill have dishonestly told their customers and the public that the Brazilian government doesn’t want stronger conservation measures, even after the Brazilian environmental minister called for them to stop deforestation in the Cerrado in 2016. This action shows that the Brazilian government continues to want these American companies to stop exploiting their land and people.”

61 major soy end users, including McDonald’s, Walmart, Tesco, Carrefour, Unilever, and Nestle recently issued a formal call to soy and meat companies to stop all destruction of the Cerrado.

“McDonald’s, Carrefour and other companies that sell meat and dairy need to be asked why they are still selling products raised on soy from Cargill or Bunge, when these companies have driven so much destruction,” Hurowitz said. “Companies like McDonald’s and Carrefour that sell products connected to Cargill and Bunge are aiding and abetting their criminal activity. Responsible meat companies shouldn’t make their customers complicit in environmental crimes with every bit of a Big Mac.”

The Cerrado is home to five percent of the world’s biodiversity, including species facing serious threats like jaguar, giant anteater, maned wolf, and marsh deer. The region is also critical for humans, providing the source for half of Brazil’s watershed, and 90 percent of its hydropower.

According to Reuters, Bunge responded to the law enforcement action by saying that “its grain purchases in the area where it was fined are in line with best practices and that it had consulted public databases on banned areas.”

“Bunge is defending itself by saying it thought it thought destroying these areas was legal. The Brazilian government clearly doesn’t agree,” Hurowitz said. “But if Bunge just took the simple step of banning all deforestation in its supply chain, it wouldn’t be facing these risks at all.”


Whole Foods refuses to accept petitions over pollution by meat suppliers

https://www.facebook.com/StandMighty/videos/1291475317652407/

AUSTIN –A coalition of farmers, doctors and environmental leaders were shocked when Whole Foods management refused to accept delivery of 95,000 petition signatures tasking the company to hold its corporate meat suppliers accountable for the widespread water contamination caused by their irresponsible farming and waste management practices. The attempted petition drop follows three letters sent to the company in the last several months - all of which have been ignored by the company.

"I’ve done dozens of petition drops to corporations and politicians over two decades and never has one refused to accept petitions from the public," said Luke Metzger, Executive Director of Environment Texas. "I really am stunned that a company which purports to social responsibility wouldn't even let us drop off petitions signed by their customers."

“Many of Whole Foods’ customers probably don’t know that the chain is selling meat produced by industrial agricultural practices that are contaminating our water and destroying our last remaining prairies and wetlands,” said Lucia von Reusner, Campaign Director for Mighty Earth. “Whole Foods needs to hold its meat suppliers accountable for cleaning up their practices, or drop them from the shelves.”

Whole Foods buys and resells meat from several of the large agribusiness corporations that were most responsible for causing last year’s record-breaking “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico. Today’s petition calls on Whole Foods to ensure that its suppliers, including Tyson Foods and Cargill, protect waterways and natural ecosystems from excess fertilizer and manure pollution that washes off from farms and feedlots.

“Water pollution doesn’t just come from factories — it can come from farms too,” said Brian Zabcik, Clean Water Advocate at Environment Texas. “In fact, the state’s environmental agency has found that agricultural runoff is one of the top reasons why many Texas streams, lakes, and bays have poor water quality.”

Last year Mighty Earth released a report, “Mystery Meat: The Industry Behind the Quiet Destruction of the American Heartland,” that identified the companies most responsible for creating the agricultural runoff pollution that contaminates waterways and drinking water supplies. The bulk of this pollution comes from producing the vast quantities of corn and soy feed used to raise livestock, as well as mismanaged manure that washes into streams and rivers. Environment Texas released a report in 2016, “Corporate Agribusiness and the Fouling of America’s Waterways,” that detailed many of the same problems.

 

About Mighty Earth

Mighty Earth is a global environmental organization that works to protect native ecosystems, address climate change, and conserve oceans. Mighty Earth’s team has played a decisive role in persuading the world’s largest food and agriculture companies to dramatically improve their environmental and social policies and practices. Mighty Earth is a fiscally sponsored a project of the Center for International Policy, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. More information on Mighty Earth can be found at http://www.mightyearth.org/.

About Environment Texas

Environment Texas advocates for clean air, clean water, and preservation of Texas’ natural areas on be- half of 35,000 members and online activists statewide.

 


Biofuels Burning

Trudeau’s flawed biofuels plan repeats U.S. mistakes, undermines climate goals

Earlier this year, Mighty Earth chairman Henry Waxman, the former Congressman and environmental champion from California, wrote to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with a warning: tread carefully with biofuels policy.

Without the full range of safeguards, which Environment and Climate Change Canada has so far declined to include in its proposed Clean Fuel Standard (CFS), Canada is following in the footsteps of the United States and Europe. In those places, biofuel policies have caused extensive environmental damage and increased climate pollution, even compared to oil and gas. (More here, here and here.)

The United States has a long history with biofuel policy. Indeed, the current U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), adopted in 2007, had the explicit goal of reducing climate emission through the promotion of cleaner-burning, renewable fuels. But while the RFS was largely successful in promoting conventional, food-based biofuels like corn ethanol and vegetable oil-based biodiesel, it largely failed to stimulate new innovation and the ultra-low carbon ‘fuels of the future.’

Not only did these more sustainable biofuels fail to emerge, but inadequate accounting for and protection against cropland expansion has meant that large swaths of grassland, prairie, and even tropical forests abroad have been destroyed for new agricultural production. This widespread ecosystem destruction releases carbon stored in plants, tree, soil and peat, which reduces, negates or even reverses any benefit biofuels provide at the tailpipe. That’s why government reviews now show that the U.S. RFS is an ineffective climate mitigation program, if not a net contributor to increased greenhouse gas pollution.

A key safeguard against the problem of cropland conversion is the inclusion of robust accounting for indirect land-use change (ILUC), or, in other words, a measurement of how increased demand for biofuel crops affects the expansion of agricultural land. There is broad scientific consensus that ILUC is a key measurement of any biofuels’ true carbon impact. Unfortunately, the proposed CFS omits this accounting entirely.

Although the ECCC has indicated that it will consider addressing ILUC at a later date, waiting is a mistake. Once the agricultural industry receives signals, lays plan and makes investments, it becomes politically challenging to change course. That’s what happened in the European Union, where biofuel targets were implemented without ILUC accounting in 2009. When ILUC accounting was proposed three years later, the food-based biofuel industry was powerful enough to block adoption.

To its credit, Canada has proposed structuring its biofuel policy along the lines of California’s Low-Carbon Fuel Standard – an improvement over the federal U.S. RFS – and has other proposed policies including a price on carbon that may interact with and incentivize more sustainable biofuels. However, without a true assessment of the carbon impact of biofuels, it’s difficult to say if this will be enough.

Prime Minister Trudeau and Environmental and Climate Change Canada still have a window to get this right. The proposed CFS is in draft stage, and ECCC could easily include the California Low-Carbon Fuel Standard’s ILUC values as a place-holder in the draft regulation due out this year, until Canada can study and determine what its own ILUC values should be. Such a move would send a strong message to the agricultural and biofuels industry: give us your best, most sustainable biofuels.

We encourage Prime Minister Trudeau and Environment Minister McKenna to follow this course of action, learn from mistakes made elsewhere, and craft a policy that serves as a model for other governments.


Largest Dutch pension fund involved in clearing rainforest

ABP invests in controversial palm oil plantation in Papua

3 April 2018. Leontien Aarnoudse for OneWorld magazine.

Over 27,000 hectares of tropical rainforest has been cleared for a single palm oil plantation in Papua Indonesia. Satellite images from the American organization Mighty Earth shows this clearing of the rainforest. The company that caused the deforestation is partly funded with Dutch pension money of ABP, the fifth largest pension fund of the world.

Linus Batia Omba (29) is not easily frightened, but this time he was. “They were shooting right over my head. The bullet hit my hair, but I was not hurt.” The Indonesian Papua resident tells how Indonesian soldiers intimidated him, because he stood up for the land rights of the Mandobo, who lived in the area where the palm oil plantation is located now.

174 million from pension fund ABP

In the South-Eastern Merauke regency, an area larger than the municipality of Amsterdam has been cleared for just one oil palm farm: PT Bio Inti Agrindo (PT BIA). Satellite images made by the environmental organization Mighty Earth showed that. The logging is not an illegal activity as the company received a permit from the Indonesian government. However, the area consisted of virgin forests, and half of it was primary forest, according to maps from the Indonesian Ministry of Forests. Clearing primary forest is a no-go in various international guidelines.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, the rainforests on the island of New Guinea - which Papua is part of – are the third largest in the world. 5 percent of all species of animals in the world live on this small part of the earth, two thirds of these animals can only be found on this island. “The forests are relatively pristine. Their conservation is essential for nature conservation”, says Lars Hein, Dutch professor of ecosystem services and environmental change at the Wageningen University in The Netherlands.

Local residents say that before the arrival of the plantation they were not sufficiently informed about the use of the land where they lived. They also explained that a river they used for drinking water, is contaminated because the plantation company discharges its wastewater there. PT BIA is mainly owned by Posco Daewoo, a South Korean company specialized in international trade, steel processing, oil, gas, coal and palm oil. The Dutch pension fund ABP is investing four million euros in Posco Daewoo, and a total of more than 174 million euros in all business units of Posco Daewoo, Posco and Daewoo.

Logging with a permit

In January 2007 PT BIA obtained a license from the Indonesian government for the construction of an oil palm plantation in the Ulilin district, which is located in the Merauke Regency. In 2013, 36,400 hectares of forest land were allocated, three quarters of which (27,369 hectares) have already been deforested.

'Burning skin'                                                                                                                                                                                             

The residents of the area say that they were not sufficiently consulted in advance of this large scale deforestation. (see box). “This land is intended for our children and grandchildren. Nobody asked us on forehand if they could use our land”, Omba says via an interpreter on the telephone. He stands under an oil palm in a place where the rainforest was uprooted in 2010, and which was also home to protected animals, including the tree kangaroo, the cuscus - a nephew of the marsupial -, the cassowary bird and the bird of paradise. There were deer, kangaroos and wild boars living in this jungle. But when the rainforest was replaced by oil palms, little of the rich fauna remained.

The reason Omba tells his story on the phone is because it is almost impossible for foreign journalists to access Papua. The Indonesian government keeps the area closed off properly. And with twenty army posts and military checkpoints in the area, slipping in with blond hair is practically impossible.

Because of that, local pastor Nicodemus Rumbayan (38) also tells us about the consequences of the disappearing rainforest through his cell phone. “Now that there is no more forest, it is warmer here. There are floods and people beg for food because they have lost their source of income.” He tells how people used to get young bamboo from the forest. And sago, a traditional staple food that residents extract from the marrow of a tree trunk. “What should the people live off now that the rainforest is no longer here?”, he asks himself. “If you have no land, you can’t collect firewood or hunt for wild boar that you eat or sell for money. The Marind, Mandobo and Yeinan communities have lost their source of income.”

The Bian River has also been polluted by the palm oil company, says another pastor, Anselmus Amo (39): “PT BIA dumps its waste water underground and it ends up in the river.” Pastor Rumbayan adds: “In 2015, I held a service in the Silil village, the fish in the Bian river there were all dead.” He continues: “Some people, including myself, itching and a burning skin because of the river water.”

No permission

The Catholic pastor Anslemus Amo, who lived in the area for many years and listened to plenty of people’s stories, says that when the palm oil company started logging, no Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) was done. This is a fixed human right for the local residents, which companies and governments must adhere to. Posco Daewoo reports in a written response that it has carried out FPIC. The spokesperson of the company also states that several public hearings took place. Amo confirms that, but states: “Public hearings are not the same as FPIC.”

On request, Posco Daewoo's spokesperson sends a signed agreement on land rights (2016), and another document indicating that the affected communities have received compensation (2010). Pastor Rumbayan places the signatures in a different light: “When PT BIA came here, they negotiated with individuals pretending to represent traditional land rights.” He sent a document about a lawsuit against the company and another community as they believe that they’ve received unjustified compensation for land that did not belong to them.

Posco Daewoo claims to have never received a lawsuit document, and points out that these land conflicts occur in the adjacent area. In any case, it is a complicated puzzle, from which a clear conclusion can be drawn: there is still no consensus on the land rights.

'Contributing to a sustainable world'

On its website, the Dutch pension fund ABP claims that it wants 'a good pension for everyone' and wants to 'contribute to a sustainable world'. However, neither ABP nor asset manager APG, which owns the listed shares of Posco Daewoo, are members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which is a standard for sustainable palm oil. This initiative, of which several financiers are members, does not guarantee but makes an attempt to prevent human rights violations and deforestation of primary forests. APG says it encourages companies in which it invests to become a RSPO-member, like Posco Daewoo, which applied for membership in December 2017.

ABP also has climate ambitions. Their Sustainable and Responsible Investment report (2016) states that the pension fund wants the companies in which it invests to emit less CO2. A promise that conflicts with the practice of companies that remove tropical forests, as they store CO2. Tropical forests contain about a quarter of all carbon stored in trees and the vegetation on the land. Deforestation therefore leads to a large emission of CO2. According to scientists, 10 percent of global CO2 emissions is caused by deforestation in the tropics.

158 fires

When you think of deforestation, you think of chainsaws and excavators. But there is another way to clear the green: by burning it. It is a dangerous, polluting method that is forbidden in Indonesia. In the report Burning Paradise (2016), that research agency AidEnvironment made on behalf of Mighty Earth, it states that there were 158 fires in PT BIA's permit area in September and October 2015.

That was the year in which Indonesia had to deal with numerous forest and peat fires. The suffocating smoke caused an estimated 100,000 premature deaths and Indonesia became one of the world's largest CO2 emitters. It is unclear whether the fires on PT BIA's site have been lit by Posco Daewoo or not. Posco Daewoo claims that the fires are caused by the natural phenomenon El Niño. But lighted or not, the Indonesian government holds companies responsible for the fires within their concession area. It is remarkable that the fires took place in the Eastern area, where according to satellite images earlier that year large trees have been removed, probably for the timber sale.

Conscious risks

More information on the estimated impact of the palm oil company on the living environment can be found in a leaked analysis report of 228 pages. This so-called AMDAL analysis is mandatory for the construction of a new oil palm plantation, but these reports are rarely seen by the public. The report is full of examples showing that PT BIA was fully aware of the numerous risks its arrival would bring.

It says: “The migration of protected wild animals for mammalian species cuscus, tree kangaroo, and deer is permanent and irreversible.” And makes these predictions: “the degradation of Bian River’s and Fly River’s water quality, the increasing rate of soil erosion, the disturbance to protected flora/vegetation and fauna/wild animals, local community’s complaint and restlessness (community’s perception),, community’s health”. And this: “A less healthy utilization of water shall make it easier for community to catch diarrhea and skin diseases”. Exactly what happened to Pastor Rumbayan.

Posco Daewoo reports that they test the river water every six months. The test results state that the water meets the quality standards, as Posco Daewoo claims. But it also states that the test samples were brought in in an unsealed jerry can or bottle. In 2015, it is explicitly stated that the samples were supplied by the company itself. Which makes the reliability of the results questionable.

A frequently heard argument is that palm oil companies contribute to economic development in a particular region. After all, a large plantation offers infrastructure and work to many employees, in this case to more than 3,000 people. But those jobs are not for everyone. PT BIA, for example, brings in most employees from other islands such as Java or Flores, says Father Rumbayan. The medical service and after-school activities that PT BIA would offer, as stated in their sustainability report, are unknown to the pastor.

Stay or walk away?

In 2015, the Norwegian Government Pension Fund decided to exclude Global Posco Daewoo from investment because of an 'unacceptable risk' of 'severe environmental damage caused by the conversion of tropical forest to oil palm plantations'. The question is whether ABP will also do that. “We strive to not run away from the problems immediately,” says APG's Director of Global Responsible Investment & Governance Yoo-Kyong Park, who also speaks on behalf of ABP. “We would rather do our best to change the behaviour of the company. We want to use our power to exert pressure as a shareholder.”

A spokesperson for Posco Daewoo reports that “PT BIA has decided to stop forest felling for now, until a consultant gives further advice”. But the promised contract from the end of February with that consultant, isn’t there yet. And Posco Daewoo didn’t announce its halt on the forest clearing to the audience. “We expect to sign a contract this month”, writes the spokesperson at the beginning of March.

Deborah Lapidus, campaigner at Mighty Earth, is in discussion with both parties and says: “ABP has constructively engaged with Posco Daewoo over several months, who blatantly lie about its progress.” If the company does not keep its promises, ABP must impose sanctions, she says: “We ask Posco Daewoo to announce a public moratorium on new development, and to hire a credible consultant to help clean up its act. If Posco Daewoo doesn’t deliver within two weeks, ABP should withdraw its investments.”

The Dutch environmental organization Milieudefensie follows the discussions from the Netherlands. The action group demands that ABP no longer invests in companies that take part in deforestation, such as Posco, and requests the pension fund to withdraw its investments.

Campaign manager for the forests of Friends of the Earth Rolf Schipper: “The fact that ABP invests in palm oil companies that destroy rainforests is incomprehensible. You must be able to trust that your pension money contributes to a better world, as ABP states, and not to large- scale deforestation, human rights violations or the extinction of wild animals.”

Read the original article in Dutch

All rights reserved.


A Fork in the Road for the Rubber Industry? 

By the shores of Lake Geneva, a modern office building houses a little-known organization that could play a huge part in the fate of the world’s tropical forests.  

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is a CEO-led organization of over 200 large companies, and describes itself as “the leading voice of business for sustainability”.[i] 

In 2005, CEOs of 11 leading tire manufactures (representing 65% of the world’s tire production) launched the Tire Industry Project under the WBCSD umbrella, in order to “identify and offer solutions to sustainability challenges associated with the life cycle of tires”.[ii]  

The work of TIP has, to date, been unspectacular. Since launching, the Project has developed initiatives to study the effects of tire road wear and particle emissions, and to improve innovations around the recycling, re-use and recovery of end-of-life tires. 

But the Project has remained strangely silent on what is arguably its biggest sustainability challenge: the massive environmental and social impacts caused by tire industry’s demand for rubber. 

Natural rubber is a key component within tires, and is produced by ‘tapping’ the sap (latex) from a particular tree species called havea brasilienis, or rubber tree. The tire industry consumes around 60% of the world’s natural rubber, with the five largest company's accounting for the lion's share of this demand.  

Often grown on vast plantation, the expansion of rubber production over recent years has been driving massive deforestation in some of the world's most important biodiversity 'hotspots', particularly in Southeast Asia. This expansion has led to the destruction of crucial wildlife habitats for species such as tigers, elephants and gibbons. It has also often come at the expense of local communities in forested areas, with thousands of families thrown off of their land in Laos, Cambodia [iii] and Myanmar in order to make way for rubber farms. 

In order to save the forests and protect vulnerable communities, tire manufacturers need to move rapidly towards fully sustainable natural rubber procurement. And time is running out. 

After a slow start, several of companies have started to take action. In the summer of 2016, Michelin became the first major tire company to introduce a sustainable natural rubber procurement policy. Last autumn, Pirelli followed suit. Earlier this year, the world's leading tire manufacturer Bridgestone released its own version and in late April Goodyear followed suit. 

But the situation with the world's remaining tropical forests – and of the people and wildlife that depend on them – remains critical. Growing demand for timber and tropical commodities such as palm oil, soya, cocoa and rubber has sparked companies, governments and civil society groups like Mighty Earth to work together to identify best-practices for ensuring forests are kept intact and used sustainably. 

Yet while steps towards sustainability have been achieved for some of these commodities, rubber remains the outlier. Schemes such as the International Rubber Study Group’s ‘Sustainable Natural Rubber initiative’ have been token gestures, and have failed to stop widespread deforestation, habitat destruction and land grabbing by rubber companies. Thus, despite the recent progress of Michelin, Pirelli and Bridgestone, the tire industry as a whole is a long way off securing a fully sustainable natural rubber supply chain.  

Now, at last, the industry might be about to shift gears. Within the shiny WBCSD offices in Geneva, the 11 CEOs within the Tire Industry Project are reportedly due to announce a new initiative on sustainable natural rubber this spring. 

The question is, what will this process look like?  

Business-led sustainability initiatives on tropical commodities can work, but history has taught us that this is only the case where such initiatives are inclusive of other stakeholders, transparent in their operations, and structured to provide an equal voice to both business and civil society.  

NGOs can offer expertise based on years of working on forest protection, land rights and commodity supply chain transparency. Where industry and civil society work together to jointly identify problems and devise solutions to sustainability challenges relating to agricultural commodities, long-lasting progressive change can occur swiftly. Examples such as the Brazil Soy Moratorium and the Seafood Task Force show that this approach works.  

That’s why Mighty Earth has written to TIP, urging its Director to make sure their sustainable natural rubber project is made open and inclusive. 

TIP could show much-needed leadership in developing a ‘gold standard’ for sustainable natural rubber. But it should be careful not to assume that progressive change can be achieved by the tire industry alone. TIP needs to bring stakeholders from international NGOs – as well as local organisations in rubber-producing countries working with people affected by rubber plantations – into the process from the outset.   

That is where the rubber will hit the road.  

 

Sources

[i] https://www.wbcsd.org/

[ii] https://www.wbcsd.org/Projects/Tire-Industry-Project 

[iii] https://www.globalwitness.org/campaigns/land-deals/rubberbarons/ 

 

 


Tire Monster Tour Launches in Goodyear's Home State of Ohio 

On the heels of Goodyear Tire’s announcement of a natural rubber procurement policy that experts are concerned is not strong enough to hold suppliers accountable, Mighty Earth unveils the Tire Monster — a ten-foot tall, 500-pound sculpture made of discarded tires. The Tire Monster will be kicking off its world tour in Ohio, the home of Goodyear Tire, to raise awareness and promote action to stop deforestation and human rights abuses related to producing natural rubber. The Tire Monster tour also launches on the eve of the World Rubber Summit, where global rubber industry leaders will convene in Sri Lanka.

Mighty Earth's new investigation found links between Goodyear and rubber suppliers driving deforestation in Southeast Asia and West Africa. Its new policy does not mention how it will deal with ongoing non-compliant suppliers found to be driving environmental destruction and human rights abuses.

“While we welcome Goodyear’s announcement, its policy leaves a lot of key questions unanswered. In contrast to the commitments of the other leading tire companies, Goodyear’s policy fails to detail how it will address suppliers that have been proven to be driving destructive practices,” said Margaret Kran-Annexstein, Campaign Director for Mighty Earth. “People are demanding that Goodyear address its problematic suppliers immediately.”

The tire industry accounts for at least 70 percent of global natural rubber consumption with the top five brands – Bridgestone, Michelin, Goodyear, Continental, and Pirelli – accounting for about half of the industry’s consumption. Although Goodyear’s policy is not as strong as that of the other companies’, it joins Michelin, Pirelli and Bridgestone in announcing a "No Deforestation, No Exploitation" policy for its supply chain. As the tide turns towards deforestation-free rubber, Continental is the final of the top five companies that has yet to announce a sustainability policy.

The Tire Monster is planning to make the following tour stops this week:  

  • Tuesday, May 1st in Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Wednesday, May 2nd in Cleveland, Ohio
  • Thursday, May 3rd in Akron, Ohio  

 He can be followed on social media as he tours across Ohio, here: 

 


Pruitt declares biomass carbon neutral in major hit to climate

Scott Pruitt today declared the burning of trees for energy as carbon neutral.

“Saying that burning trees is clean energy is just another dirty lie from Scott Pruitt and the Trump administration,” said Glenn Hurowitz, Mighty Earth CEO. “Pruitt and Trump love coal, so of course they’d fall for an energy source that’s even dirtier.”

Pruitt’s decision today ignores the science that burning biomass for energy releases massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the air, worsening the climate crisis and clearing valuable forests for short-term energy use. Mighty Earth Chairman Rep. Henry Waxman wrote an op-ed on this topic and Mighty also released a report with the Sierra Club analyzing the environmental impacts of a proposed biomass plant in Oregon.


Goodyear’s New Deforestation-Free Rubber Policy Falls Short

 

With the recent release of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company’s new Natural Rubber Procurement Policy, experts express concern that this policy may not be strong enough to hold the world’s third-largest tire company’s current suppliers accountable for addressing deforestation, land grabbing, and human rights abuse.

The tire industry accounts for more than 70 percent of global rubber consumption and is a major driver of deforestation, which is responsible for approximately 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. In response to public pressure, Goodyear competitors Michelin, Pirelli, and Bridgestone have already rolled out sustainability policies that have strong criteria regarding procurement and consequences for non-compliant suppliers, which advocates expect to have greater impact than Goodyear’s.

Goodyear’s policy underscores a commitment to following several industry-accepted standards for agriculture free of human rights abuse and deforestation. However, it lacks policy points for monitoring implementation, transparency of suppliers, termination of non-compliant suppliers, forest restoration, banning of hazardous chemicals as prohibited by Rotterdam Convention, a full ban on burning and development on peatland, and additional clarification on labor rights protections.

A new investigation by Mighty Earth also found that at least two of Goodyear’s major current suppliers—Dau Tieng and Hévécam—have been linked to deforestation in biodiversity hotspots and human rights abuses at their rubber plantations in Cambodia and Cameroon. According to the report, Dau Tieng Rubber Corporation has skirted laws on maximum land holding sizes, illegal logging, and habitat destruction in sensitive forest areas. The company has also used land grabs, forced evictions, and excessive force to secure plantations. Hévécam has been in conflict with indigenous groups, who allege that the company has violated their customary land rights in Southern Cameroon.

“We welcome this policy but it's up to Goodyear to show that it has teeth,” said Mighty Earth Campaign Director Kristin Urquiza. “Suppliers that want to sell rubber need to know that engaging in deforestation or land grabbing means losing access to international markets. As written, the policy is unclear about long-term consequences of non-compliance such as a commitment to terminating the relationship with bad suppliers.”

Goodyear’s policy also comes shortly before the World Rubber Summit, where the World Business Council on Sustainable Development’s Tire Industry Project (TIP) is set to meet to discuss industry-wide action on sustainable natural rubber. Based on their experience improving other major industry supply chains like soy and seafood—and the ineffectiveness of the closed-door International Rubber Study Group’s Sustainable Natural Rubber initiative—Mighty Earth and other NGOs have already sent letters calling on the TIP to be inclusive of civil society and NGO perspective to help provide guidance towards developing a joint industry mechanism to address deforestation for rubber.

“The entire tire and rubber industries need to work together to defuse this rubber carbon bomb while there are still forests left to save,” said Mighty Earth CEO Glenn Hurowitz. “By including NGOs and real accountability mechanisms, other agricultural commodities, like soy, have made significant strides towards breaking the link between agricultural expansion and deforestation. We hope to see rubber follow their lead.”


The Tire Monster

Coming soon to America, there will be a tire monster roaming the streets, and he’s livid about deforestation for rubber.

The Tire Monster is making his way from Southeast Asia where, until now, he has fed on primary forests and rubber sap from industrial plantations producing rubber for tires to grow big and strong. At a towering 10 feet tall and 500 pounds, he’s engorged himself.. With tropical forests dwindling, soon there will be nothing left to feed on, so the monster is switching up his diet and heading first to Ohio, the home of the U.S.’s largest tire company, Goodyear Tires, to rally support for deforestation-free tires with his new friends at Mighty Earth.

Rubber is Driving Massive Deforestation

Rubber production is a growing driver of deforestation across West Africa and Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, it has long been industry norm to produce rubber in a way that destroys forests and violates human rights.

The natural rubber that the tire industry uses to manufacture its tires endangers majestic endemic wildlife , and forces indigenous people off of the lands they’ve lived on for generations. With our climate, vital ecosystems, and human rights at stake, it is essential that the tire industry— as one of the major consumers of rubber worldwide — breaks the link between deforestation and natural rubber production.

How Can I Help?

Sign the petition to ask major tire makers to stop destroying the Mekong and African forests for rubber production. Follow the Tire Monster on his tour as he rallies Ohioans to call on Goodyear Tires to hold its current suppliers accountable for addressing deforestation, land grabbing, and human rights abuse.


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