Prince Charles Advisor Condemns Iceland’s Black Campaign Against Palm Oil

Sir Jonathon Porritt, the leading British environmentalist and advisor to Prince Charles, has said that Iceland’s Christmas palm oil advertisement is “deeply manipulative”, “makes no sense whatsoever” and “is actually counter-productive”.

Sir Jonathon, who has spent years working on practical steps to ensure sustainable palm oil, condemns Iceland’s advert as “ignoring reality” and says that celebrities who have expressed support for the campaign have been “duped”.

Sir Jonathon served for three years as Chairman of the UK’s Green Party; was Director of Friends of the Earth UK for six years; and for nine years chaired the UK Government’s Sustainable Development Commission. He is a renowned author and expert on environmental conservation and sustainability who currently serves as an environmental advisor to Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, and a Visiting Professor at UCL. He is co-founder of the global sustainable development NGO, Forum for the Future.

Sir Jonathon’s op-ed in Malaysian newspaper The Star points out the factual errors in Iceland’s anti-palm oil campaign:

“James Cordon and Bill Bailey have allowed themselves to be duped by an unholy coalition of NGOs and naïve supermarkets.

It implies that the oil palm industry is the biggest cause of deforestation anywhere in the world. It is NOT. Not by a long chalk.”

It implies that tens of thousands of orang utan are still being killed in Indonesia and Malaysia every year because of oil palm development. They are NOT.

It implies that all palm oil, whatever it’s being used for and whoever produces it, is responsible for the death of thousands of orang utan. It is NOT.”

It implies that reasonable consumers will inevitably have to take their share of responsibility for the deaths of orang utan as a consequence for purchasing products which contain palm oil. They do NOT.”

Four big, fat, completely mendacious implications.”

Sir Jonathon reserves particular scorn for Iceland’s inexperienced and naïve CEO, Richard Walker:

“CEO Richard Walker doesn’t know how to tell the difference between certified and uncertified palm oil … it’s not difficult, Richard. […] Boycotting palm oil is purposeless.”

“[The Iceland video] was specifically made for ‘political’ reasons with no requirement on it whatsoever, to worry about being ‘fair, decent, honest and true’.”

Sir Jonathon rightfully points out the important steps taken by the palm oil industry towards becoming sustainable, via certification bodies such as RSPO and MSPO. He concludes:

“To go on vilifying and demonizing such a critically important industry, which continues to move forward on challenges like deforestation and better working conditions, makes no sense whatsoever.”

Facts on Malaysian Palm Oil

Let’s recall some key errors in Iceland’s campaign:

  • Palm oil is not a major driver of deforestation. The European Union research confirms that Iceland should be targeting beef, soy, maize and other crops instead of palm oil.
  • Palm oil is the highest-yielding oilseed crop in the world.
  • Malaysia is not deforesting. In fact, forest area in Malaysia is increasing. The United Nations FAO’s official statistics prove this.
  • The Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) standard is the core of the Government’s commitment to ensure this sustainability track record is expanded and intensified. MSPO will be made mandatory for the industry by 2019.
  • Malaysia does not burn forests. Open burning is illegal as pointed out by the Malaysian Ministry.