Apes invade EU embassies in European capitals and EU Commission building in Brussels

International coalition of NGOs, #NotInMyTank, invites all like-minded primates to join the huddle. Orangutans have announced gatherings in front of EU representation offices in Berlin, Brussels, Lisbon, Madrid, Paris, and Rome on Monday 21 January. They’re marching against the deforestation caused by the use of palm oil in biofuels (so-called ‘green’ or ‘bio’ diesel).

The expansion of plantations for palm oil is destroying rainforests and their wildlife. Despite a drop in the use of palm oil in consumer products (food, cosmetics etc.) palm oil consumption keeps increasing because of biodiesel [1]. The majority of palm oil imported into the EU (51%) is currently subsidised to make ‘green fuel’. But things could change soon.

In January the EU Parliament has requested for subsidies and policy support to palm oil biofuels to end. A Ipsos recent poll showed that 69% of the people support the decision [2] and 540,000 have signed petitions asking for change [3].

On November 21st a coalition of environmental NGOs [4] launched the campaign #NotInMyTank to stop the incentives that have caused a widespread use of palm oil in biodiesel. 

For two months, across Europe, activists in ape costumes have reached out to people in the street to raise awareness on this hidden ‘diesel-scandal’ [5- video footage] . According to a recent poll 82% still ignore that so called ‘green’ diesel contains palm oil. 

Norway and France have recently taken measures to eliminate palm oil from biofuels after 2020.

The final decision sits with the European Commission that, by February 1st, must announce the new measures in its ‘delegated act’. As the final decision by the EU Commission nears, the apes have decided to gather by EU embassies in European capitals and in front of the Commission’s headquarter, Berlaymont, at Rond-Point Schuman at 11 am. 

All apes and like-minded primates are invited to join.

Quotes from coalition members:

Sylvain Angerand, campaign coordinator of Les Amis de la Terre France and founder of Canopée Forêts ViVantes (France), said: ”The EU Commission must listen to the citizens and their representatives that massively reject the use of palm oil as a biofuel. It’s time to be clear and not to create a new loophole that will increase importation of palm oil””

Sascha Müller-Kraenner, director of Germany’s Deutsche Umwelthilfe, said: “Adding palm oil to biodiesel means that a precious product from rainforest regions is burned senselessly. Huge amounts of ‘certified’ palm oil are then no longer available to other markets such as the food sector. This madness must be stopped.”

Rosalía Soley of Spain’s Ecologistas en Acción, stated: “We’re running out of time, we must act now. Palm oil used as a fuel in the context of a polluting and unsustainable mobility system is complete nonsense. It is causing the destruction of nature and the violations of human rights in countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia and in Latin America. That’s why we’ll take the streets in Madrid for the EU day of action”.

Giorgio Zampetti, Executive Director at Italy’s Legambiente, said: "People need to know there’s nothing ‘green’ or sustainable about palm oil in biodiesel. That is why on January 21st, the European day of mobilisation against palm-diesel, just like in  other European capitals we will take the streets in Rome. We expect the Eu Commission to listen to its people and and eliminate as soon as possible palm oil and food crops from biofuels. We appeal to the Italian members of the Commission and the European Parliament to multiply their efforts to end the subsidies and we ask the Italian Government to cut the import of palm oil  in its National Plan on Climate and Energy”

Francisco Ferreira, President of ZERO, Portugal, said: "It is time for Portugal, and especially for the European Commission, to respect the will of thousands of European citizens and to act by reversing the growing trend of unsustainable use of biofuels from raw materials with high environmental impacts, such as palm oil."

Rebecca Falcon, Campaign Manager at SumOfUs, said: “Palm oil being pumped into gas tanks in Europe contributes to human rights abuses and rainforest destruction across South East Asia - pressing thousands of people into forced labor and pushing species like orangutans to the brink of extinction. That’s why people across Europe are outraged, and have been signing and sharing SumOfUs' petition to expose the EU for its relationship with palm oil lobbyists. Together, we demand change from the European Commission; anything less is unacceptable.”

Giulio Carini, Senior Campaigner at  WeMove.EU said: “More than 500,000 Europeans have signed our coalition’s petition asking the EU to stop the use of high risk fuels like palm oil that destroy our forests and kill orangutans. The European Commission must respect the will of more than half a million European citizens and not bow to the pressure of biofuel lobbyists to continue to subsidise palm oil diesel as a “green fuel.”  

Ton Sledsens of Milieudefensie’s forests campaign (The Netherlands), said: “Early on in the biofuels debate the Dutch government took a strong stance against high-ILUC biofuels that drive deforestation. So Milieudefensie expects the Dutch government to put pressure on the European Commission and its Vice President Timmermans to take decisive action against palm oil diesel.”

Karin Lexén, Secretary General of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, said: “In Sweden there’s a strong and positive commitment to end the use of fossil fuels. The European Commission and Cecilia Malmström must ensure that the shift from fossil to renewable fuels doesn’t lead to rainforest destruction with an even higher negative impact on the climate and biodiversity than the use of fossil fuels.”

Noé Lecocq of Inter-Environnement Wallonie (Belgium), said: "Belgians know palm oil and soy production can be very destructive of the environment and the climate. But most of them completely ignore that hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of palm oil and soy have been blended in the diesel fuel sold in Belgian gas stations last year. Once people know, most agree this should come to an end."

Trees Robijns at NABU (Germany), said: “Diesel is not only polluting the air we breathe in our cities, it's also blended with precious products such a palm oil, fuelling deforestation and destroying unique habitats for threatened species like the orangutan. This has to stop and we are calling upon the German government to change these harmful practice.”

William Todts, Executive Director of Transport & Environment (Brussels), said: “Europeans don’t want to burn palm oil or soy in their cars. President Juncker and Vice President Timmermans have a unique opportunity to show the EU is not out of touch with what a huge majority of Europeans want, right ahead of the EU elections.

 

Coordinates of #NotInMyTank events across Europe 

Paris action:
When: Mon, 21 Jan, 10.30-11.30am CET
Where:  288 boulevard Saint Germain, 75007 Paris

Berlin action:
When: Mon, 21 Jan, 12.30 to around 13.30 CET
Where: Europäisches Haus, Unter den Linden 78 / Wilhelmstraße

Brussels action:
When: Monday, 21 January 2019 from 11:00-12:00 CET
Where: Rond-Point Robert Schuman, 1040 Bruxelles, Belgique

Madrid action:
When: Monday, 21 January 2019 from 12:00-13:00 CET
Where:  Paseo de la Castellana, 46, 28006 Madrid 

Rome action:
When: Monday, 21 January 2019 from 10.00 to 12.00
Where:  Piazza Santi Apostoli, very close to piazza Venezia

Footnotes: 

1)https://www.transportenvironment.org/press/motorists-forced-burn-more-ra...

2)https://www.transportenvironment.org/press/seven-10-europeans-are-agains...

3) https://www.act.transportenvironment.org

4) Belgium (Fédération Inter-Environnement Wallonie, CNCD/11.11.11), Brussels (Transport & Environment), France (Amis de la Terre and Canopeé), Germany (Deutsche Umwelthilfe and Nabu), Italy (Legambiente), Portugal (Zero), Spain (Ecologistas en Acción), Sweden (the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation) and the Netherlands (Milieudefensie/Friends of the Earth Netherlands), SumOfUs and WeMove. 

5) Photos and videos: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1GmIXNR2guLrUhvtBQ-eQ0WmALujZbZMZ...

France, photos

Contact the press team

Nico Muzi
Communications Director
+32 (0)484 27 87 91 
nico.muzi@transportenvironment.org

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