Palm oil is a globally traded commodity that is used in 50 percent of all consumer goods, from lipstick and packaged food to body lotion and biofuels. Used in about half of the products on supermarket shelves, palm oil imports to the U.S. have jumped 485% in the last decade.
This has resulted in severe negative impacts on the environment, the climate, and local populations.
- Palm oil destroys rainforests: Rainforests provide critical habitat to endangered species including Sumatran tigers, Sumatran elephants and orangutans. One government, Indonesia, has announced plans to convert approximately 18 million more hectares of rainforests, an area the size of Missouri, into palm oil plantations by 2020.
- Palm oil causes climate change: Rainforests are destroyed to create industrial palm oil plantations, releasing massive quantities of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Deforestation causes eighty percent of Indonesia’s CO2 emissions, making the tropical nation the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases.
- Palm oil threatens forest peoples: Millions of Indonesians rely directly on rainforests for their livelihoods. A single palm oil plantation can destroy the forests, watersheds, and forest resources of thousands of Indonesians, leaving entire forest communities to face poverty.
For more information, and to find out what you can do to help, visit the Rainforest Action Network.