This week, Canada and Indonesia, the largest palm oil producer and exporter in the world, are completing the first round of negotiations on a proposed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). Only last year, research published in Nature Ecology and Evolution described how wealthy countries contribute to deforestation in poorer nations through international trade deals.
According to the CEPA negotiating objectives tabled in Parliament last year, Canada hopes furthermore to include a controversial investment protection chapter in the CEPA. This chapter would grant Canadian oil, gas and mining firms, which hold over 90% of the value of all Canadian investment in Indonesia, extraordinary rights to sue the Indonesian government over measures to ensure human rights are respected and the environment protected.
In early 2021, for example, the Indonesian government granted a large gold and silver mining concession covering half the island of Sangihe to Canadian-owned Baru Gold Corporation. This project has been criticized by environmentalists for threatening pristine rainforests, at least 10 species of bird and the island’s freshwater supply. A CEPA with Indonesia that includes an investor-state dispute settlement would tilt the scales in this and other mining struggles in the interest of profit-driven mining firms over community and environmental interests.
In the last 20 years, the import of palm oil to Canada has increased by a staggering 1,600%. Following the “Buttergate” scandal, we learned that even cows in Canada are being fed palm-oil supplements.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the expansion of palm-oil production is affecting at least 193 species classified as “threatened” on the IUCN’s “red list”. This proposed deal, therefore, calls into question the federal government’s global commitments to ending deforestation and protecting biodiversity.
Shane Moffatt, Head of the Food & Nature campaign, Greenpeace Canada, said:
“Globally, around 80 % of deforestation is caused by agriculture for commodities like palm oil. These profit-driven trade deals are at the root cause of the destruction and entrench corporate interests. While the Canadian government talks about ending deforestation and protecting biodiversity, our palm oil imports keep rising. Instead of pursuing a trade deal that threatens our global climate and wildlife, our government should focus on protecting the world’s forests, supporting Indigenous and local communities and growing local food resilience.”
Stuart Trew, Senior Trade Researcher with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, said:
“Canada removed NAFTA’s investor-state dispute settlement process from the renegotiated Canada-U.S.-Mexico Agreement because, the government said, it undermines our ability to set strong environmental measures and regulate business activities in the public interest. It is hypocritical and contrary to the ideals of inclusive, fair trade to insist Canadian oil, gas and mining firms should still have access to this perversion of justice in Indonesia.”
For more information, please contact:
Dina Ni, Communications Officer, Greenpeace Canada,
[email protected], +1 514 400-3313
Alyssa O’Dell, Senior Communications Specialist, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, [email protected], +1 343-998-7575