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Information about biofuels and bioenergy in Indonesia.









International net loss and net gain in 'forest' by country for the period 1990-2005 (modified from the World Resources Institute)

Oil palm plantations

  • Indonesia has 6 million hectares of land under oil palm and has cleared up to three times as much land for expansion of plantations. According to Indonesian NGO Sawit Watch another 20 million hectares have been allotted under regional development plans, mostly in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and West Papuafor conversion over the next 15 years.1.
  • Beyond the environmental impact of the increase in oil palm, there are issues regarding the land rights of indigineous people who live in areas that are being given to companies for large-scale plantations. Land for plantations is often given to companies without consultation or compensation for the people who are living there.[1].

International cooperation

  • Indonesia-Norway agreement on forest conservation and REDD - Announced in May 2010[10]


Academic organizations

Governmental organizations

  • PLN Indonesian government-owned power company. Is currently investing in power plants that will be fueled by a 80% pure plant oil, mostly from oil palm, 20% diesel mix. (source: see news)

Nongovernmental organizations

Industry associations

  • Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association


Some companies that are creating biodiesel plants based on palm oil in Indonesia:

  • PT Asian Agri
  • Golden Hope Plantations - (Malaysian), A large Malaysian oil palm company with a strong sustainability focus:
    • a strong environmental advocate with global awards including the Forest Stewardship Council Certification (FSC), ISO 14001, ISO 9000, ISO 9001 and COC.
    • "It was the first plantation company in Malaysia to receive the Global 500 Award by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for its “Zero Burning” practices."
    • It is also a founder member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)which comprises plantation companies, industries as well as environment-related Non-Governmental Organisations and interest groups.
  • Genting Bhd - (Malaysian) Genting Berhad is the investment holding and management company of Genting Group. Asiatic Development Berhad now has a land bank of over 71,000 hectares and is one of the leading and lowest cost palm oil producers in Malaysia.
  • Sime Darby Bhd - (Malaysian) The Sime Darby Group is Malaysia's leading multinational and one of Southeast Asia's largest conglomerates. In n addition to its original plantations core business activity, Sime Darby is also a major player in the motor vehicle, heavy equipment, property, and energy & utilies industries.
  • [11] - Wilmar Holding Pte Ltd. (Singapore) Is one of Asia’s largest palm oil refiners and crushers of copra and palm kernel. They are also a sizeable oil palm plantation owner with extensive palm fruit processing mills in Indonesia. They are "set to become one of the world's largest producers of palm biodiesel". They are also a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)


  • Historical Analysis and Projection of Oil Palm Plantation Expansion on Peatland in Southeast Asia by Jukka Miettinen, Al Hooijer, Daniel Tollenaar, Sue Page, Chris Malins, Ronald Vernimmen, Chenghua Shi, and Soo Chin Liew; ICCT, February 2012. "Study using satellite mapping data of historical and projected rates at which oil palm plantations in Indonesia and Malaysia have expanded and will expand onto peat soils."
    • "This study demonstrates that the area of industrial oil palm (OP) plantations in the peatlands of insular Southeast Asia (Malaysia and Indonesia, except the Papua Provinces) has increased drastically over the past 20 years. From a small area in 1990 to at least 2.15 million hectares in 2010, expansion has affected every region of Malaysia and Indonesia reviewed here."
    • See also indirect land use change (ILUC). [12]



  • US Report Casts Doubt On Palm Fuel Benefits, 8 February 2012 by Jakarta Globe: "Indonesia has come under greater scrutiny over its policy to encourage palm oil development, following a report by US authorities that fuels derived from the commodity were not as environmentally friendly as initially believed."
    • "Last month, the US Environmental Protection Agency put out a notice that palm oil-derived biofuels such as biodiesel and renewable diesel fell short of its threshold for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions savings of 20 percent compared to regular diesel...."
    • "[The notice indicated that] 'palm oil production produces wastewater effluent that eventually decomposes, creating methane, a GHG with a high global warming potential'...and that 'expected expansion of palm plantations onto land with carbon-rich peat soils which would lead to significant releases of GHGs to the atmosphere.'"
    • "Meine van Noordwijk, chief science adviser at the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF), said if more than 10 percent of palm oil originated from peatland plantations, then the EPA’s standards could not be met, regardless of all other efforts."
    • "In 2009, 22 percent of Indonesia’s palm oil plantations were on peat soil, while in Malaysia the figure was 13 percent, according to the EPA...."
    • "In 2008 the EU banned biofuels from palm oil grown from deforesting tropical forests peatlands."[15]
  • EPA Rejects Palm-Oil Based Biodiesel for Renewable Fuels Program, 27 January 2012 by Business Week: "The Environmental Protection Agency said that biodiesel made from palm oil doesn’t meet the requirements to be added to its renewable fuels program because its greenhouse-gas emissions are too high."
    • "In a regulatory filing today, the EPA said that palm-oil biodiesel, which is primarily produced in countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, provides reductions of as much as 17 percent in greenhouse-gas emissions compared to traditional diesel fuel, falling short of a 20 percent reduction necessary to qualify under the law."
    • "By failing to meet that threshold, oil companies can’t use palm fuels to meet national renewable fuel standards. Other fuels they can use are made from soy beans, animal fat, recycled cooking grease or similar materials...."
    • "Environmental groups, which are locked in a fight with the EPA over its approval of corn-based ethanol under the same program, praised the decision as an important marker by the agency. Palm-oil production has led to the deforestation of 6.5 million hectares (16.1 million acres) in Malaysia and Indonesia, according to Friends of the Earth."[16]
  • Biofuel Research Suffers From Gaps, 20 January 2012 by Chemical & Engineering News: "After a review of a decade’s worth of biofuels research, scientists with the Environmental Protection Agency have concluded that significant knowledge gaps will likely prevent experts from adequately assessing biofuels’ full environmental impacts....While researchers have paid substantial attention to greenhouse gas emissions, the new study says, they have focused little on how the production and use of biofuels affects biodiversity and human health."
    • "'The last 10 years or so of research may have left us short of understanding what biofuels really may do to global economies, the environment, and society,' says Caroline Ridley, an ecologist with the EPA’s National Center for Environmental Assessment, in Arlington, Va., who led the study."
    • "The team found that the most common topics, with a few hundred papers each, were fuel production, feedstock production, and greenhouse gas emissions. Near the bottom of the list, 80 studies examined how biofuel production affects biodiversity, for example how local species fare after farmers clear large stretches of land to grow corn, switchgrass, palm oil, or other biofuel feedstocks. And only 15 studied the human health impacts of increasing levels of air pollutants produced by burning biofuel ethanol."
    • "The team also found that researchers have focused largely on the environmental consequences in the Northern Hemisphere even though regions in the Southern Hemisphere, such as Indonesia, will probably grow most of the feedstock crops...."
    • Access the study, Biofuels: Network Analysis of the Literature Reveals Key Environmental and Economic Unknowns


  • RSPO Seeks to Certify Indonesian Crude Palm Oil, 23 November 2011 by Jakarta Globe: "The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil aims to certify 3 million tons of Indonesian crude palm oil as sustainable, up 50 percent from this year’s original target of 2 million."
    • "Green campaigners say palm plantations are some of the biggest threats to the sustainability of rainforests in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, which produce 85 percent of the world’s supply of the commodity."
    • "A producer’s CPO can be certified if it can demonstrate that the production process does not cause undue harm to the environment or society."
    • "Worldwide demand for CPO is around 45 million tons, with the biggest markets in India, China and Europe."
    • "Indonesia’s Palm Oil Association (Gapki) in October withdrew its membership from RSPO, saying it would focus on helping to develop the government-backed sustainability scheme."[17]
  • Sustainable palm oil initiative falters, 20 November 2011 by Mail & Guardian Online: "Environmentalists have warned that an effort to encourage the sustainable production of palm oil launched several years ago has not kept pace with expanding cultivation driven by rising demand."
    • "The issue will loom large this week at the annual meeting of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil from November 22 to 24 in key producer Malaysia."
    • "Despite some progress, major users of palm oil are not making enough effort to source and buy sustainably produced oil, while incentives for green production remain inadequate, green groups say."
    • "Growers produced 5.2-million tonnes of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) -- accounting for about 10% of world supply -- last year but only about 56% of it was purchased."
    • "Environmentalists say the consequences for rainforests in major producers Malaysia and Indonesia -- which account for 85% of world production -- and other producing nations will be dire unless the situation changes."
    • "The forest loss contributes to climate change and further imperils threatened species like the orangutan while land disputes between local communities and large palm producers seeking to expand cultivation are rising."[18]
  • Study Suggests EU Biofuels Are As Carbon Intensive As Petrol, 5 November 2011 by "A new study on greenhouse gas emissions from oil palm plantations has calculated a more than 50% increase in levels of CO2 emissions than previously thought – and warned that the demand for 'green' biofuels could be costing the earth."
    • "Biodiesel mandates can increase palm oil demand directly (the European Biodiesel Board recently reported big increases in biodiesel imported from Indonesia) and also indirectly, because palm oil is the world's most important source of vegetable oil and will replace oil from rapeseed or soy in food if they are instead used to make biodiesel."
    • "They concluded that a value of 86 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per hectare per year (annualised over 50 years) is the most robust currently available estimate; this compares with previous estimates of around 50 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per hectare per year."
    • "CO2 emissions increase further if you are interested specifically in the short term greenhouse gas implications of palm oil production – for instance under the EU Renewable Energy Directive which assesses emissions over 20 years, the corresponding emissions rate would be 106 tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) per hectare per year."[19]
  • Indonesia’s withdrawal puts Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil on shaky ground, 5 October 2011 by The Star Online: "The jury is still out on the implications of Indonesia's withdrawal of its membership from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)."
    • "On the one hand, some industry observers reckon the absence of Indonesia, being a sizeable producer, can derail the workings of RPSO."
    • "But others think that as long as major palm oil producers such as Sime Darby Bhd and Wilmar International are still members of RSPO, there should be no negative impact on the grouping."
    • "It is unclear if the decision by GAPKI will have any bearing on the Malaysia Palm Oil Association's (MPOA) stand on RSPO."
    • "Fadhil Hasan, the executive director of GAPKI, was quoted as saying the association decided to resign because Indonesia already had the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO)."
    • "RSPO has just recently achieved one million hectares of certified production area around the world. Malaysia and Indonesia contribute 88% of total certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO). Out of this, Indonesia produces 40% of global CSPO, second to Malaysia with 48% of production."[20]
  • Nestle Buys Palm Oil Promises of  Sinar Mas, 16 September 2011 by Jakarta Globe: "Swiss food giant Nestle will resume purchases of palm oil from Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology following an 18-month halt after Smart made improvements to abide by Nestle’s guidelines for responsible environmental practices."
    • "The parent company of the palm oil producer known as Smart, Golden Agri Resources, has been working with environmental group The Forest Trust on the implementation of a Forest Conservation Policy."
    • "Nestle Indonesia’s spokesman Brata T. Hardjosubroto said that Smart, Indonesia’s second-biggest listed plantation operator, and GAR had been making continuous progress and demonstrated clear action to meet Nestle’s responsible sourcing guidelines."
    • "Nestle, which started construction on its $200 million factory in West Java on Monday, had dropped Smart as a supplier in March 2010."
    • "The decision came following campaigns by Greenpeace highlighting Nestle’s purchase of crude palm oil from Sinar Mas Group, which Greenpeace accuses of destruction of rainforests and peatlands to make way for new plantations."[21]
  • Oil Palm Residue Could Solve Food vs. Biofuel Debate, 21 August 2011 by Jakarta Globe: "The millions of tons of fibrous residue produced by palm oil plantations across the country could soon become a major source of raw material for renewable fuel."
    • "Over the past year, scientists from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) and Seoul’s Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) have been working on a joint project to turn a waste product into a viable alternative energy resource."
    • "By next year, the scientists are optimistic that the pilot plant and research lab built for the project in the Research Center for Science and Technology (Puspiptek) in Serpong, Banten, can start regular production of bioethanol from the leftover parts of the oil palm plant."
    • "Indonesia has already been producing biofuel from jatropha and cassava, but, according to Yanni Sudiyani, the chief researcher for bioethanol and biomass at LIPI , there is a problem with cassava supply, since it is also used for food."
    • "This food-versus-fuel battle has been at the heart of the debate on biofuels, which might otherwise be preferable over non-renewable and heavily polluting fossil fuels."
    • "The oil palm residue has high cellulose content, Zalinar said, which can be processed into liquid glucose that would be fermented to serve as the basic material for bioethanol."[22]
  • Cargill Smallholders Receive First Premiums for RSPO Certified Sustainable Palm Oil, 27 June 2011 by PR Newswire: "Smallholders at Cargill's oil palm plantation, PT Hindoli, today received their first premiums for the certified palm oil they produced."
    • "The smallholders were first to be certified under the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Smallholder Principles & Criteria in late 2010."
    • "'The premium received by our smallholders today shows that sustainable farming practices can contribute to the livelihoods of rural farmers,' said Anthony Yeow, president director of PT Hindoli."
    • "The smallholders receiving more than IDR 870 million (approximately US$100,000) in combined premiums today are organized in 17 cooperatives with 17,594 hectares of planted oil palm as part of Cargill's plantation operations. PT Hindoli's crushing mills in South Sumatra process fresh fruit bunches from its own oil palm estates as well as those purchased from the smallholders' scheme."
    • "Cargill's own palm estates at PT Hindoli received certification from both RSPO and International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC) in 2009 and 2010 respectively, and the company is currently working towards RSPO certification for its other palm plantations, PT Harapan Sawit Lestari and PT Indo Sawit Kekal."[23]
  • Analysis: Land banks buffer Indonesian palm oil from forest ban, 25 May 2011 by Reuters: "Palm oil firms in Indonesia can overcome a two-year ban on forest clearing by tapping into land reserves, but they face bigger problems attracting the labor needed to work the soil and boost yields."
    • "The ban, effective from Friday, limits access to sensitive peat and forest regions and removes much of the uncertainty that had hung over the palm industry as Jakarta finalized the details."
    • "Plantation firms can now turn their attention to how best to bring massive land banks into rotation profitably and how to boost yields from existing acreage, industry experts said."
    • "To compete with soyoil suppliers for the top vegetable oil markets in India and China, the world's top palm oil producer needs to produce more palm oil per hectare."
    • "The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization data show Indonesian average, annual yields stand at 18 tonnes of fresh fruit bunches per hectare, lower than Malaysia's 20 tonnes in 2009 and keeping productivity in the region at 76 percent of estimated potential."[24]
  • Indonesia to launch ISPO certification, 3 May 2011 by Commodity Online: "In a bid to promote the sustainable nature of business in palm oil production, the Indonesian government is about to introduce Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) certification that would bring producers of palm oil under strict environmental norms."
    • "Currently RSPO or Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil is the only agency in the world providing certification that guarantees palm oil production by producers as sustainable."
    • "But unlike RSPO-- representing planters, green groups and consumers—that does not impose sanctions on members that violate its voluntary standards, the ISPO intends to punish by law, the violators of norms."
    • "Officials from government institutions and ministries, palm oil associations and NGOs will constitute the ISPO commission to manage the certification system: giving ISPO approval and recognition to plantation companies that operate in sustainable manner."[25]
  • Indonesian official: REDD+ forest conservation plan need not limit growth of palm oil industry, 29 April 2011 by "Indonesia's low carbon development strategy will not impede the palm oil industry's growth said a key Indonesian climate official during a meeting with leaders from the country's palm oil industry."
    • "During a meeting on Thursday, Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, head of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's REDD+ Task Force, asked industry leaders for their input on the government's effort to shift oil palm expansion to degraded non-forest land."
    • "Kuntoro noted that Indonesia has more than 25 million hectares of degraded land, much of which could be suitable for oil palm and timber plantations."
    • "Expansion on degraded lands has been hindered by land tenure conflicts — non-forest land is more likely to be claimed by local communities — and higher development costs. Some plantation companies have relied on logging revenue to subsidize costs of plantation development. Futhermore, degraded lands often have degraded soils, further increasing the cost of plantation establishment."
    • "Kuntoro's meeting with the palm oil industry came as efforts continued to break a deadlock over the definitions of what type of forest will be included in a proposed moratorium on new concessions. The moratorium, a condition of Norway's one billion pledge to support forest conservation in Indonesia, was supposed to go into effect January 1, 2011 but has been stalled due to differences in opinion on whether the concession ban will apply to all natural forest or just primary forest."[26]
  • Palm oil planters get wise with bird of prey pest control, 20 April 2011 by Reuters: "Leading Southeast Asian producers of palm oil have tried different pest control schemes over the years, from snakes to poisons, but the high success rate -- and low cost -- of owls has prompted more planters to turn to them for help in reducing damage."
    • "Malaysia and Indonesia account for more than 90 percent of the world's supply of palm oil, while other smaller producing nations include Colombia, Benin, Kenya and Ghana."
    • "But according to the green group Deforestation Watch, crop losses caused by rats feeding on the palm fruit has been estimated to be around 5 percent of the oil yield."
    • "'The (plantations) say it's cheaper because they can decrease costs by 50 percent compared with using chemicals,' said Chaerul Saleh, a biologist at WWF-Indonesia."[27]
  • Palm Oil Lobby Fights World Bank's Environmental Initiatives in Indonesia, Malaysia, 20 April 2011 by Treehugger: "We know how destructive the palm oil industry in Indonesia and Malaysia, so it was great news when the World Bank announced that social and environmental safeguards would serve as guiding principles in its lending to the palm oil sector."
    • "The World Bank said it would try to 'support smallholders and foster benefit sharing with rural communities,' but that palm oil lobbying groups World Growth International and the Initiative for Public Policy Analysis (IPPA) attacked the Bank for doing so."
    • "The latter group issued a press release saying: 'The Bank's new framework for palm oil engagement elevates radical ideological opposition to agriculture development above the needs of the poor and hungry in Africa'—a position some are spinning as the Bank saying the environment is more important than African farmers."
    • "What that fails to recognize is the precise link between climate change, degradation of the environment, and increased vulnerability for already impoverished people, specifically in Africa."[28]
  • Norway to continue palm oil investments, 30 March 2011 by "Norway's $550 billion sovereign wealth fund will continue investing in Asian palm oil companies despite criticism from environmental groups, reports Reuters."
    • "Runar Malkenes, Deputy Director of the Information Division at Norway's Ministry of Finance, told Reuters that while the fund will continue to invest in the sector, it may exclude palm oil companies that cause egregious environmental damage."
    • "Last year Norway divested its holdings in Samling, a Malaysian company associated with destructive logging practices and social conflict with indigenous groups in Malaysian Borneo."
    • "The fund, which invests revenues from the country's oil and gas industry, held 2.4 billion Norwegian crowns ($430 million) worth of palm oil-related stocks as of the end of last year."
    • "Norway's statement comes a week after Indonesian activist group Greenomics criticized Norway for continuing to hold stakes in several palm oil companies linked to deforestation, including Golden Agri Resources (GAR), which owns PT Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology (SMART], a firm that had been targeted for Greenpeace over destruction of rainforests and peatlands in Borneo."[29]
  • Palm oil giants target Africa in 'land grab' following Indonesia deforestation ban, 25 March 2011 by The Ecologist: "The world's largest palm oil producer Indonesia is due to implement a two-year ban on granting new concessions of land to plantation companies in forest areas."
    • "There are also restrictions on the availability of land in Malaysia. This has led companies like Sime Darby, which has more than half a million hectares of palm oil in Indonesia and Malaysia, to look elsewhere."
    • "Sime Darby - reported to be the largest palm oil producer in the world - has leased 220,000 hectares of land in Liberia and is considering buying a further 300,000 hectares for palm oil plantations in Cameroon."
    • "Other rival palm oil giants like Sinar Mar, Olam International and Wilmar International are also tying up land deals in Liberia, Gabon and Ghana."
    • "In Cameroon, campaigners have admitted to having strong reservations about Sime Darby's plans to lease land for palm oil plantations. Samuel Nguiffo, from the Centre for Environment and Development (CED), says even if they only develop on degraded forest, the deal is likely to involve farmland being taken away from local communities."
    • "Nguiffo believes the land has more value in terms of sustaining local livelihood but says the government will push hard for a deal, regardless of the long-term consequences for the country's food security."[30]
  • Palm oil company gives up land contested by local communities as part of sustainability pledge, 21 March 2011 by "The company PT Agro Wiratama, a subsidiary of the Musim Mas group, will give 1,000 hectares of its 9,000 hectare concession in West Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) back to the community. The decision is a direct result of Agro Wiratama's RSPO membership, which now requires member companies to publicly announce plans to expand their operations."
    • "Until now, palm oil expansion has at times resulted in social conflict between traditional forest users — often indigenous people and small-scale farmers — and companies granted concessions by the government (most forest land is state-owned in Indonesia, independently of who actually uses it)."
    • "Forest Peoples Programme, together with Gemawan, note that Agro Wiratama's decision has implications for other palm oil companies operating in Sambas Regency: 17 of them are members of RSPO."
    • "More than 3,000 land conflicts between palm oil developers and local communities in Indonesia have been registered with the country's National Land Agency."
    • "With more than 8 million hectares of oil palm plantations, Indonesia accounts for more than 40 percent of global palm oil production. But expansion has had a high environmental cost: millions of hectares of forest and peatland have been cleared in the name of palm oil production."[31]
  • Counting the carbon cost of peatland conversion, 7 March 2011 by Nature News: "Up to 6% of carbon-rich peat-swamp forests had been cleared in Peninsular Malaysia and on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra to make way for oil-palm plantations by the early 2000s, according to a study published today. The clearances, a response to rising demand for food and biofuel, released as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as the entire UK transport sector does in a year."
    • "Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study is the first attempt to systematically assign a value to the carbon loss due to peatland destruction in Southeast Asia that can be attributed directly to conversion to oil-palm plantations."
    • "Malaysia and Indonesia (which includes Sumatra and parts of Borneo) are the world's largest suppliers of palm oil, accounting for 87% of global production in 2008."[32]
  • Palm oil giant vows to spare most valuable Indonesian rainforest, 9 February 2011 by The Guardian: "Golden Agri-Resources Limited has committed itself to protecting forests and peatlands with a high level of biodiversity, or which provide major carbon sinks, as part of an agreement with conservation group the Forest Trust."
    • "However, the agreement announced on Wednesday will still leave GAR free to exploit other areas of forest, and land that is judged to be of lower conservation value."
    • "Scott Poynton, executive director of the Forest Trust, said 'It's about going to the root causes of deforestation – we have shown that the destruction of forests is anchored deeply in the supply chains of the products we consume in industrialised nations, and we are showing we can do something about that.'"
    • He said pressure from Nestlé, which last year drew up a set of sustainability guidelines and signalled that it would not accept palm oil from sources connected to deforestation, had been instrumental in bringing GAR to the table."
    • "Experts in Indonesia will be asked to judge whether GAR forests have "high conservation value" under guidance from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, a coalition of the palm oil industry and conservation groups."[33]
  • Malaysian palm oil destroying forests, report warns, 2 February 2011 by the Guardian: "Study by Wetlands International claims level of palm oil-related deforestation in Malaysia is higher than previously thought."
    • "The report claims that between 2005 and 2010, almost 353,000 hectares of peat swamp forests were cleared – a third of Malaysia's total – largely for palm oil production."
    • "The clearing, draining and burning of peat swamp forests is responsible for about 10 per cent of mankind's greenhouse gas emissions, according to Wetlands International."
    • "Palm oil firms in Malaysia and Indonesia are under increasing pressure by major Western retailers and consumer goods brands, many of which use palm oil in their products, to halt the expansion of plantations that lead to forest clearance."
    • "Some Malaysian palm oil producers have also joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, but strong demand from India and China for unsustainably sourced oil means others can avoid doing so without necessarily harming their market share."[34]
  • Indonesia to road test green palm oil standards, 21 January 2011 by Reuters: "Amid pressure from green groups to halt deforestation that speeds up global warming, the agriculture ministry of Indonesia said in April it planned to issue Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) certification to cover the entire operations of planters."
    • "Deputy Agriculture Minister Bayu Krisnamurthi said on Friday the now complete ISPO document would be tested on between ten and 20 companies in February."
    • "The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which groups planters, green groups and consumers, is the only other major group to have set up green standards for the whole industry."
    • "But unlike RSPO, which does not impose sanctions on members that violate its voluntary standards, those found to be breaking ISPO rules will be punished by law, a ministry official said in November."[35]


  • Greens Warn World Bank Over Palm Oil Funding, 5 September 2010 by Jakarta Globe: "Environmental groups Greenpeace and Sawit Watch have called on the World Bank to extend its international suspension of financing for the palm oil sector unless producers meet environmental criteria."
    • "Jefri Saragih, head of Sawit’s campaign in Indonesia, said on Sunday that the World Bank must provide palm oil makers with clear guidelines on what they must do to reduce their industry’s impact on global warming."
    • "Environmental groups have been making a stir with campaigns accusing palm oil firms of illegal deforestation, with Sinar Mas Group being boycotted by some of its top buyers."
    • "On Thursday, US fast food giant Burger King said it would stop buying palm oil from the firm and its subsidiaries after Greenpeace mounted a successful campaign against Sinar Mas’s land-clearing practices."
    • "Unilever and Nestle earlier dropped the supplier over the criticism."
    • "Since 1965, the World Bank has channeled nearly $2 billion for 45 projects in the palm oil sector in 12 nations across Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia."
    • "Indonesia has been a major focus of the financing, receiving $618.8 million of the total funding. The World Bank suspended the financing in September 2009 over environmental concerns."[36]
  • Cars and People Compete for Grain, 1 June 2010 by Earth Policy Institute: "Historically the food and energy economies were separate, but now with the massive U.S. capacity to convert grain into ethanol, that is changing....If the fuel value of grain exceeds its food value, the market will simply move the commodity into the energy economy."
    • "For every additional acre planted to corn to produce fuel, an acre of land must be cleared for cropping elsewhere. But there is little new land to be brought under the plow unless it comes from clearing tropical rainforests in the Amazon and Congo basins and in Indonesia or from clearing land in the Brazilian cerrado."[37]
  • Indonesia puts moratorium on new forest clearing, 27 May 2010 by Reuters: "Indonesia will place a two-year moratorium on new concessions to clear natural forests and peatlands under a deal signed with Norway aimed at reducing greenhouse gases, the government said in a statement."
    • Under a bilateral agreement, "Norway will invest $1 billion in forest conservation projects in Indonesia."
    • "The suspension would encourage the development of new plantations 'on degraded lands rather than vulnerable forests and peatlands'."
    • "Palm oil firms such as Wilmar and Indofood Agri Resources have big expansion plans in Indonesia, already the largest producer of an oil used to make everything from biscuits to soap."
    • "Part of Norway's $1 billion will be spent on creating monitoring systems and pilot projects under a U.N.-backed forest preservation scheme called Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD)."
    • "REDD allows developing nations to earn money by not chopping down their trees and preserving carbon-rich peatlands, seen as key to slowing climate change because forests soak up huge amounts of greenhouse gases."[38]
  • Flat-headed cat endangered by palm oil, April 2010 by MNN: "According to National Geographic, a new study published in the journal PLoS ONE has indicated that the flat-headed cat's habitat is rapidly being transformed into vast biofuel plantations."
    • "Native to the swampy peat forests of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, the cats are nocturnal, elusive, tiny (they typically weigh between 3-5 pounds) and difficult to observe."
    • "Almost 70 percent of the area that historically provided good habitats for the flat-headed cat has already been converted into plantations, mostly for the purpose of growing biofuel. Furthermore, their remaining range has become fragmented, likely making it difficult for remote populations of the cat to breed with one another."
    • "The cat's predicament is not unique in the region where it lives. Tropical Southeast Asia has both one of the highest rates of biodiversity and highest rates of deforestation worldwide. Much of that deforestation is for the purpose of planting palms, a cash crop destined for the biofuel market."[39]
  • Indonesia may open more forests to palm oil, 16 February 2010 by The Malaysian Insider: "As Indonesia looks for ways to meet its ambitious emissions-reduction targets, the Ministry of Forestry yesterday said it plans to issue a new regulation that would allow commercial forestry companies to plant crops such as palm oil in new concession areas."
    • "The regulation would stipulate that at least 49 per cent of forest concessions in question be used for planting commercial forests, while up to 21 percent could be planted in crops. The remaining 30 percent would be set aside for conservation and the use of local communities."
    • "A similar regulation was issued in 1999 but was withdrawn after many forestry companies planted more of their land in palm oil than permitted."[41]


  • Indonesia could double oil palm plantation area, 2 December 2009 by Mongabay: "Indonesia has 18 million hectares of land suitable for oil palm cultivation, nearly twice the 9.7 million hectares that have already been allocated for plantations, said Agriculture Minister the opening of the 5th Indonesian Palm Oil Conference in Bali."
    • "Roughly 7.9 million hectares of the allocated area has already been planted with oil palm."
    • "Oil palm expansion in Indonesia promises to be controversial due to environmental concerns. In February the government approved a decree that will allow the conversion of up to 2 million hectares carbon-rich peatlands, a move scientists warn could trigger the release of hundreds of millions of tons of CO2."
    • "[E]conomic returns from oil palm plantations could soon face competition under a scheme (known as REDD for reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation) that would compensate countries for protecting carbon sinks, notably tropical forests and possibly peatlands. Under some circumstances carbon conservation could outperform palm oil production....Indonesia's recent announcements about oil palm expansion across peatlands may in fact be posturing to win more compensation under a REDD mechanism."[42]
  • UN's Ban calls deforestation summit, 3 September 2009 by AFP: "UN chief Ban Ki-moon said Thursday he planned to bring together leaders of the world's most forested nations, including Brazil and Indonesia, for a meeting this month to discuss deforestation" on 22 September.
    • "The UN Environment Programme recently underlined that since trees and plants absorb carbon dioxide (CO2), stemming deforestation could be a tried and tested method in tackling climate change instead of more ambitious carbon capture projects."
    • The proposed meeting in New York would coincide with the UN summit on climate change."[44]
  • (Palm Oil:) How the World Bank Let 'Deal Making' Torch the Rainforests, 19 August 2009 by Climate Wire / New York Times: "The World Bank ignored its own environmental and social protection standards when it approved nearly $200 million in loan guarantees for palm oil production in Indonesia, a stinging internal audit has found."
    • "The audit does not address climate change or how lending for palm oil -- an ingredient in foods and a biofuel added to diesel for cars -- fits into the World Bank's new 'strategic framework' for development and climate change."
    • "Specifically, auditors said, when loaning to Wilmar International Ltd. and other firms between 2003 and 2008, the IFC did not check out concerns about the companies' supply chain plantations. The Forest Peoples Programme, a U.K.-based nonprofit group that originally brought the complaint, charged that the companies illegally used fire to clear forestland, cleared primary forests, and seized lands belonging to indigenous people without due process."
    • In a letter, nonprofit organization representatives "called on the World Bank to freeze palm oil lending, charging that IFC suffers a 'systemic problem whereby the pressure to lend and to support business interests overcomes prudence, due diligence and concern for social and environmental outcomes.'"[45]
  • Oil giants destroy rainforests to make palm oil diesel for motorists, 15 August 2009 by TimesOnline: "Fuel companies are accelerating the destruction of rainforest by secretly adding palm oil to diesel that is sold to millions of British motorists."
    • "Twelve oil companies supplied a total of 123 million litres of palm oil to filling stations in the year to April, according to official figures obtained by The Times."
    • "Only 15 per cent of the palm oil came from plantations that met any kind of environmental standard. Much of the rest came from land previously occupied by rainforest."
    • "[C]learing rainforest to create biofuel plantations releases vast quantities of carbon stored in trees and soil. It takes up to 840 years for a palm oil plantation to soak up the carbon emitted when rainforest is burnt to plant the crop."
    • "The expansion of the palm oil industry in Indonesia has turned the country into the third-largest CO2 emitter, after China and the US. Indonesia has the fastest rate of deforestation, losing an area the size of Wales every year. The expansion of plantations has pushed the orang-utan to the brink of extinction in Sumatra."[46]
  • Small-scale biofuels production holds more promise, says USAID, 21 June 2009 by BusinessMirror: "Decentralized biofuel production, or small-scale factories built on degraded or underused lands, has the potential to provide energy to half a billion people living in poverty in rural Asia."
    • " The report, Biofuels in Asia: An Analysis of Sustainability Options…focused on China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. It analyzed key trends and concerns and highlighted sustainability options for biofuel production."
    • "Compared with large-scale biofuels production, small-scale biofuels production for local use may deliver greater social benefits, including improvement of rural livelihoods, support of local industries, and a lower tendency toward exploitation of workers and co-opting of land from indigenous peoples."
  • The world's top 15 listed palm oil planters, 9 June 2009 by Reuters: Information on the "15 largest listed palm planters, ranked by market value....mostly located in Indonesia and Malaysia".
    • Statistics provided on "plantation holdings are in hectares and include both cultivated and uncultivated land".
  • Indonesia needs $4b to avert deforestation, 4 June 2009 by The Jakarta Post: "...Indonesian deforestation could be averted if international communities grant US$4 billion until 2012 to finance the livelihood of local peoples and stop forest conversions....The Forestry Ministry said the money would be used to address the main causes of deforestation prior to the implementation of the reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) mechanism."
    • "Many have criticized the Indonesian government for its failure to combat high rates of deforestation, which have risen to over one million hectares per year."
    • "Indonesia has about 120 million hectares of rainforest – the third-largest on the planet after Brazil and Congo."
    • "...illegal logging [can] be seen from the expansion of oil palm estates in protected areas and conservation forests in the country....local administrations still [award] licenses for forest conversion, including for plantations."
  • "Green" palm planters struggling to find buyers, 30 May 2009 by "JAKARTA, May 27 - Palm oil planters in the world's top two producers Indonesia and Malaysia are struggling to find buyers for their eco-friendly palm oil...threatening to slow momentum."
    • "Under fire from green groups and some Western consumers, the palm oil industry established the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in 2004 to develop an ethical certification system that includes commitments to preserve rainforests and wildlife."
    • "...the industry had so far sold only 15,000 tonnes of certified green palm oil since the first shipment last November while output might have reached around 600,000 tonnes."
    • "The issue of 'green' palm remains contentious and some conservation groups argue that the current voluntary rules are not effective in protecting the environment."
  • Biofuels for the poor, 23 March 2009 opinion piece in The Jakarta Post: "After being criticized for being slow to develop the local biofuel industry, the Indonesian government has finally issued two important policies; first, a decree issued last year obliging industries and the transportation sector to use biofuels; and second, its recent decision to provide subsidies for sales of the fuel."
    • "The National Team for Biofuel Development also placed an emphasis on the poverty-alleviation aspect in its roadmap for biofuels development. In its roadmap, the agency says that the program will create at least one million jobs and significantly increase the value of many areas of land owned by farmers."
    • "At present, our biofuel producers mostly use crude palm oil as a raw material. This has sparked criticism, since by using a food source for fuel in order to solve the energy crisis, we are also creating a food crisis. There are also fears that, in anticipation of growing demands from biofuel sector, CPO firms will continue a trend of clearing forest areas for plantations, thus creating massive environmental problems."[48]
  • Indonesia reopens peatland to palm oil plantation, 18 February 2009 by The Guardian: "Indonesia today acknowledged it had quietly lifted a year-long freeze on the use of peat land for palm oil plantations, fuelling fears of a rise in greenhouse gas emissions."
    • "Environmental groups had pressed the government to maintain the ban but Indonesia's agriculture ministry said tighter controls for issuing new permits for growing palm oil on peat land had been set after a study during the past year."
    • "To grow palm oil, the peat land that must be cleared and drained, releasing millions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. The oil is a major export product and is used in numerous foods, soaps, washing powders and as a feedstock for biofuels."
    • "Indonesia is the world's leading palm oil producer and has planted palm estates of 7.1m hectares, with smallholders accounting for about 35 percent. Palm oil generated exports revenue of £7.64bn in 2008."[49]
  • The cost of the biofuel boom on Indonesia's forests, 21 January 2009 by The Guardian: "A flurry of scientific field work and environmental reports have linked the spread of oil palm plantations in Indonesia to the decimation of rain forests, increased conflict between logging and oil palm interests and rural and indigenous people, and massive CO2 emissions through logging, burning, and the draining of carbon-rich peat lands. And most of the trouble, as I learned on a recent visit, is playing out in the Indonesian lowland rain forests on Sumatra and Borneo, an ecosystem long regarded as a global hotspot for rare and endemic species — but perhaps not for much longer."
    • "According to Indonesia's own figures, 9.4 million acres of forest have been planted with oil palm since 1996, an area larger than New Hampshire and Connecticut combined. That works out to 2,000 acres a day, or about one football field a minute....Only Malaysia, which has less at stake biologically, produces more."
    • "The week [the author] visited Sumatra, Greenpeace activists aboard the Rainbow Warrior were blockading a shipment of palm oil off its coast. A banner tied to the ship's mast read: 'Palm Oil Kills Forests and Climate.'"[50]


  • Biofuel producers warn EU over "unjustifiably complex" sustainability rules, 7 November 2008 by BusinessGreen: "Eight developing countries have written to the EU warning they will complain to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) if it passes proposed legislation designed to improve the environmental sustainability of biofuels by restricting the types of fuels the bloc imports."
    • "The EU is considering legislation that is intended to ban the purchase of biofuels from energy crop plantations that are believed to harm the environment and lead to food shortages by displacing land used for food crops and contributing to rainforest deforestation."
    • "[E]ight countries – Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Malawi, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Indonesia and Malaysia – have written to the EU to protest against the proposals" in a letter that "claims that the new rules would 'impose unjustifiably complex requirements on producers' and argues that environmental criteria 'relating to land-use change will impinge disproportionately on developing countries'."[51]
  • Malaysia, Indonesia to cooperate on biofuels, 5 August 2008 by Reuters: "Malaysia and Indonesia will cooperate in a biofuel development program, and may use the same biofuel specifications and amount of blending, Malaysia's commodities minister said on Tuesday."
    • "Indonesia and Malaysia, the world's top two palm oil producers, together account for more than 80 percent of the world's crude palm oil output."
    • "Indonesia's state oil firm, Pertamina, uses a 2.5 percent blend of biofuel in diesel fuel, and plans to increase the blend to 5 percent, depending on the biofuel price."[52]


  • A who's who of Indonesian biofuel, 22 May 2007, from Asia Times Online. Many of the companies that are now investing heavily in Indonesia's biodiesel industry are the sames ones that "incurred and defaulted on huge foreign debts in the wake of the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis. Few fully repaid their debts and today they still dominate the country's logging, wood-processing and pulp industries. Several also have highly suspect environmental records."


  • Indonesia ranked 3rd for greenhouse gas emissions 6 November 2006 from the Jakarta Post (requires free registration). "Indonesia has jumped to third place from 21st behind the United States and China as the world's top contributor of greenhouse gasses because of its clearing and burning of peatland areas". Emissions reached 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide a year -- almost a 10th of world greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. Indonesia emits 6.5 times as much CO2 from degraded peatlands as it does by burning fossil fuels every year, while it produces more gases than all the efforts of western countries to reduce. The peatlands are burned to make way for oil palm plantations among other uses.


  • West Java Province
    • South Korean company LBL Network Ltd is investing in bio-ethanol production utilizing cassava (Manihot esculanta) as a feedstock. According to "Largest Bio-ethanol Factory to be Built", 1 December 2006 in TEMPO Interactive, LBL Network Ltd "signed a Memorandum of Understanding with West Java Province and the governments of Kuningan, Subang, Sumedang and Indramayu regencies". The provincial government will assist farmers to plant the crops, and the company PT Mitra Sae International will administer local operations, with a "manufacturing capacity of 200 million liters of ethanol per year," Indonesia's largest, costing $100 million. Some 50 thousand hectares of land will be needed to sustain the required production of 1.2 million tons of feedstock annually.[2]


  1. Promised Land - Palm Oil and Land Acquisition in Indonesia: Implications for Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples by Marcus Colchester, Norman Jiwan, Andiko, Martua Sirait, Asep Yunan Firdaus, A. Surambo, Herbert Pane; Forest Peoples Programme, Perkumpulan Sawit Watch, HuMA and the World Agroforestry Centre, 2006. Executive summary p. 11-17.
  2. "Largest Bio-ethanol Factory to be Built", 1 December 2006 in TEMPO Interactive

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