Deforestation has caused about 20 percent of the rise in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The rise in greenhouse gases, both human caused and natural, is contributing to unprecedented levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, which contributes to climate change, extreme weather and threats to life as we know it.
Deforestation also cripples our planet’s capacity to capture carbon from the atmosphere, while contributing to the loss of endangered species, including orangutans, tigers, elephants and many others. The palm oil industry and the buyers of palm oil have blood on their hands. Agriculture is the largest driver of deforestation in the world and palm oil is a big part of that destructive equation.
New York State Common Retirement Fund, four Swedish national pension funds, Allianz Global Investors and 90 other institutional investors and groups representing a combined $5 trillion in assets are calling for stronger standards from an international palm oil certification organization.
The letter, signed by representatives of members of the coalition and sent Monday to Darrel Webber, secretary general of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, based in Kuala Lumpur, said tougher standards “are essential for long-term investments that depend on a resilient, sustainable natural capital base.”
In the letter, the signatories call on the certification organization to protect forests and peat lands for certified palm oil production and to include other environmental commitments as well as human rights protections.
The letter was signed by Thomas DiNapoli, New York state comptroller and sole trustee of the $183.5 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, Albany; and officials of Stockholm-based Swedish pension funds the 295 billion kronor ($34.3 billion) AP4, the 293.9 billion kronor AP2, the 284 billion kronor AP1 and the 272.6 billion kronor AP3.
Other signatories include ConAgra Foods, Inc.; Dunkin’ Brands; General Mills, Inc.; The Kellogg Co.; Mars, Inc.; PepsiCo, Inc.; and Starbucks. Retail chains signing the letter included Albertsons-Safeway and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Other consumer packaged goods companies signing the letter included Colgate-Palmolive, Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Cos.
Other signatories include Scott Stringer, New York City comptroller, who oversees the five pension funds of the New York City Retirement Systems, with combined assets of $163.4 billion. Ceres, a group that includes asset owners and other institutional investors, focusing on corporate sustainability, helped coordinate the appeal for sustainability.
Deforestation and Biodiversity News via http://www.pionline.com/article/20150601/ONLINE/150609986/institutional-investors-seek-stronger-palm-oil-standards