New Singapore Haze Law: On August 5th, the Singaporean parliament approved the Transboundary Haze Pollution Bill, in order to fight haze from deforestation in the region.
Singapore’s president will soon sign this bill into law. Under the new law, Singapore can impose fines of up to S$2 million on companies or individuals who cause haze pollution, including violators outside of Singapore. In addition, Singaporean citizens, potentially aided by NGOs, can start civil cases against haze polluters. Violators may face fines, reputational damage, and orders to stay in Singapore during court inquiries. Both Wilmar and Golden-Agri, who have no-deforestation policies for their operations, announced support for the new law.
ConAgra Palm Oil Policy: In response to shareholder filings by the New York State Common Retirement Fund and Green Century Capital Management, consumer foods giant ConAgra joined other leading consumer companies by announcing a commitment to eliminate suppliers linked to deforestation. Among consumer companies, the maker of Peter Pan peanut butter, Orville Redenbacher popcorn, and Chef Boyardee (among other major brands) is estimated to be the world’s 15th largest palm oil user.
Wilmar Implementation Report: Recently, Wilmar announced its Q2 results on implementation, in collaboration with its partner The Forest Trust. During this period Wilmar met with suppliers, smallholders, and NGO stakeholders, and conducted site visits to assess compliance. In addition, Wilmar has made progress on palm oil traceability, and discussed how it was addressing violations raised by NGO’s. Currently, in Malaysia, 95% of Wilmar’s crude palm oil and palm kernel oil is traceable to the mill level.
Robo-Investing: Also last week, a number of NGOs criticized passive investing for disregarding sustainability risks in the forest sector. Friends of the Earth singled out Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose passive investments in a firm called DFA are partially held in Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK), which has been the subject of media and NGO exposés linking the company to serious deforestation, forced labor, and human rights abuses. They termed this trend ‘robo-investing’, claiming that human investors are better able to value responsible production in the forest sector.