AUSTRALIA SUBSIDISING THE BURNING SEASON
Last night the ABC screened The Burning Season documenting the mass burning of virgin rainforests across Indonesia to clear land for palm oil plantations, making Indonesia the 3rd largest carbon emitter and hundreds of orangutans homeless.
What this excellent program did not reveal is that the Australian Government subsidises the import of palm oil from Indonesia as a ‘greenhouse friendly’ biofuel, despite knowing it is a climate and wildlife disaster.
The Cleaner Fuels Grant Scheme, introduced by the former Government, gives grants to encourage the manufacture and import of fuels that are supposed to have a reduced impact on the environment http://www.ato.gov.au/content/downloads/n9886-12-2005final.pdf.
When in opposition, Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett rightly called the palm oil subsidy a ‘public policy car crash’, yet after a year in Government the subsidy remains. The Food Standards Australia New Zealand Authority has also rejected recommendations for compulsory labeling of products containing palm oil (cosmetics, toiletries, processed foods) so that Australian consumers can avoid supporting the industry.
“Humane Society International (HSI) calls on the Australian Government to remove the senseless palm oil subsidy without further delay and to change the laws to require mandatory labeling of palm oil to give consumers an informed choice. The subsidy and unclear labels are giving support to an industry in large part responsible for the destruction of 300 soccer fields of rainforest an hour in Indonesia, fast tracking the extinction of the orangutan and massive greenhouse emissions. This is the last thing Australian tax payers and consumers want to support”, said Nicola Beynon, HSI Senior Program Manager.
The palm oil industry has also been accused of child slavery by the Indonesian National Commission for Child Protection.
Touted as the follow-up to Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, The Burning Season presents a solution to the frightening issue of global warming – carbon credits for rainforest protection. HSI is campaigning at the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change to see that carbon credits for rainforest protection form an essential part of the next climate change agreement to be agreed in Copenhagen in 2009.
The Burning Season was produced by award winning film makers Cathy Henkel and (occasional HSI consultant) Jeff Canin. HSI gives grants to orangutan protection projects in Indonesia to support the heroic efforts of people like Lone Droscher-Neilsen depicted in the film. HSI strongly congratulates Cathy and Jeff for bringing attention to such a crucial side to the climate change problem.