In the Red – Bank Policies fail to ensure they will avoid irresponsible investment in the paper industry

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A new assessment by the EPN of bank policies has been completed and published here: http://www.environmentalpaper.eu/in-the-red/

The assessment studied how ready the financial sector is to manage the environmental and social risks of financial involvement with the pulp and paper industry. From 2016 to 2017 we carried out a benchmark assessment of the pulp and paper policies of 42 private banks against the requirements we set out in 2016 in Green Paper, Red Lines. The Red Lines are environmental and social criteria, which articulate minimum requirements that pulp and paper companies must meet before investment in them is considered.

The 42 selected banks are either one of the biggest financiers of the pulp and paper sector, and/or are involved in ‘Dodgy Deals’, i.e. pulp mill projects or companies that are the subject of active campaigns by our member organisations due to their harmful environmental and social impacts. We conducted an in-depth, qualitative study of the publicly available policy framework of each bank and assessed to what extend the bank policies protect it from the risks of clients breaching each Red Line.

The results of our assessment reveal that bank policies are extremely disappointing. Unfortunately none of the banks we assessed manages to thoroughly protect itself from clients breaching the Red Lines. Indeed for most of the Red Lines, the vast bulk of banks are at best only partly protected. We can only conclude that the banking sector does not have policies that are fit for purpose to avoid irresponsible investment in damaging pulp and paper projects and companies.

Our Red Lines are strongly supported by more than 140 civil society organisations worldwide. We hope that the banking sector will work with us to move the pulp and paper industry towards a sustainable future.

The full assessment and recommendations are here: http://www.environmentalpaper.eu/in-the-red/

Is Brazil’s huge planned pulp expansion sustainable? Discussion Document

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A new discussion document – Expansion of the Brazilian Pulp Industry – aims to trigger a debate about the world’s hot spot for planned  increases in pulp and paper industry production.

Brazil’s production of pulp for paper is growing faster than any other country’s. This discussion document summarises key data and insights into the environmental and social risks and impacts of this expansion, profiling all of the companies that are planning to expand their production.
The document raises questions for debate including the need to address the cumulative impact of many simultaneous pulp capacity expansions, each of which will compete for resources, putting pressure on wood supplies, water and communities. It also questions the responsibilities for new plantations that displace other land-users and cause indirect deforestation.
The document is aimed at stakeholders in the industry, including financial companies involved in the pulp and paper sector, but will also be of interest to anyone concerned about the future of land-use in Brazil.
it is published ahead of  the civil society International Day of Struggle Against Monoculture Tree Plantations, on 21 March 2017, which is also the UN International Day of Forests.
The discussion document about the Brazilian Pulp Industry expansion is here: Download Discussion Document.
Comment on the document is invited from all stakeholders.

A new threat for Russian boreal forests

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Major western European and American companies are connected to logging companies expanding their operations into one of the largest tracts of undisturbed primary forest in Arkhangelsk Oblast of northwest Russia, a Greenpeace report reveals.

The report Eye on the Taiga: How industry’s claimed ‘sustainable forestry’ in Russia is destroying the Great Northern Forestshows that three-quarters of the proposed Dvinsky Forest Reserve is licensed to three major logging companies. It lists the names of companies, some of which are household names that are buying from mills linked to these logging companies.

 

Companies highlighted in the report, such as Swedish owned paper manufacturer Arctic Paper, tissue company SCA, the paper giant Stora Enso, and Irish packaging producer Smurfit Kappa, have a unique opportunity to help save this last remaining intact forest.  In addition, companies such as Auchan, Nestlé, PepsiCo, and McDonald’s – also highlighted in the report as linked with this case – can influence their suppliers to support the protection of the Dvinsky Forest. Three main companies involved in the trade of the wood of the Dvinsky Forest are Pomor Timber, Arkhangelsk Pulp and Paper Mill and Titan Group

In 2011, regional authorities planned to establish the Dvinsky Forest Reserve. This proposed reserve covers almost two-thirds of one of the largest remaining Intact Forest Landscapes, covering 835,000 hectares of critical habitat for a number of threatened species in Arkhangelsk Oblast in northwestern Russia.

Anton Beneslavsky, of Greenpeace Russia, said: “Since 2000, the Dvinsky forest has lost 300,000 hectares – an area larger than Luxembourg – of unique intact forest landscape. This critically important and beautiful forest is ending up as saunas and tissue products and packaging that can be found in stores and homes all over the world.”

Between 2000 and 2013 the rate of loss of Intact Forest Landscapes in the Great Northern Forest [3] was around 2.5 million hectares per year. Russia accounts for over half of this loss.Logging continues despite Russia promising to deliver its part on achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.  Target 5requires by 2020 a minimum 50% reduction in the rate of loss of primary forests and other high biodiversity value habitats; where feasible, this loss should be brought close to zero.

“Russia has declared 2017 as the Year of the Protected Area. It has been already years since the Dvinsky Forest Reserve was first earmarked for protection by the Arkhangelsk authorities” said Beneslavsky.

“If the government is serious about establishing new protected areas this year, it should start walking the talk by fully protecting this forest without further delay. Failing to act is not an option.”

Greenpeace has written to companies named in the report highlighting the fate of the Dvinsky Forest, and has called on them to join in the efforts to save this magnificent forest and other critical regions of the Great Northern Forest. The companies are encouraged to phase out any suppliers involved in the destruction of these valuable forest areas.

EPN Debate on Detoxing Paper

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Introducing a webinar and discussion document about why the paper industry needs a ‘detox’.

Back in the 1990s there was intense debate and campaigning to stop the toxic pollution caused by the pulp and paper industry. The root cause of the pollution were the chemicals used for bleaching, with chlorine and its associated compounds being particularly dangerous once released into the environment. In Europe and to a lesser extent North America, this led to significant improvements by the pulp industry, which tightened up its effluent controls and began installing totally chlorine free (TCF) bleaching technology into mills. Many environmentalists and industry professionals considered this issue to be a problem solved.

However, as the years went by, progress towards a chlorine-free pulp industry slowed. There are now signs that the trend is reversing, with the industry installing new chlorine-based bleaching technologies even into brand new mills. It is time to revisit this issue. The paper industry needs to ‘detox’.

To facilitate discussion on the topic, the EPN has hosted a webinar and published a discussion document about ‘detoxing’ paper.

On 17 January 2017, an EPN webinar was held, featuring a presentation by Rune Leithe. Rune is a forester who has been working for twenty years as an adviser/consultant working with many NGOs across the world, particularly on forest and forest industry issues. He has also produced a discussion document on this topic for us, which is here: 170112 Detox paper EPN discussion document 2.

Comments and feedback are welcome.

 

2017-01-17 14.05 Webinar on Detoxing Paper from Environmental Paper Network on Vimeo.

Red Lines for pulp mill finance – a webinar and a Chinese version

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Earlier this year, we published  Green Paper, Red Lines. 

The document  is a briefing for financiers, which sets out minimum requirements for pulp and paper companies. We ask all those involved in financing the industry to avoid any projects or companies that do not meet these Red Lines. To help explain this important document, we are running a webinar about it on 13 December, and have now translated it into Chinese.

As the world’s biggest consumer of paper, China is a major player in financing the pulp industry, and it is becoming of increasing importance. We have therefore translated the Red Lines into Chinese, to make it easier for Chinese bankers to know what civil society requests them not to invest in: Green Paper Red Lines, Chinese translation.

China has strong legislation, in the form of the Green Credit Guidelines, to regulate overseas investment by Chinese financial institutions. We are currently analysing how our Red Lines can best be used alongside these Guidelines. We look forward to constructive engagement with Chinese banks and other financial organisations.

We are hosting a webinar on Tuesday 13 December 2016 at 1400 UT, aimed at bankers and investors, to explain why the Red Lines are so important. Please contact hag at environmentalpaper.eu if you are interested in taking part.

Read more about the Red Lines here.

Red Lines for Pulp Mill Finance

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The Environmental Paper Network* (EPN), and BankTrack** today published a short document, Green Paper, Red Lines,  setting out minimum requirements for the pulp and paper industry to avoid harming people and the environment. This document urges banks and investors who consider financially supporting pulp and paper companies to thoroughly check whether these companies are on the right side of these ‘red lines’.

The ‘red lines’, listed in the document, are the absolute minimum requirements for pulp and paper mills, and cover regulatory, social, environmental and corporate issues. Unless pulp and paper mills fulfil these requirements, they are likely to cause unacceptable social and environmental harm.

The standards are absolute minimum requirements. Companies that achieve these standards are not automatically deemed to be operating in a sustainable manner. However, if companies, and financiers providing support to them, cross these red lines, they are highly likely to be the target of campaigns by civil society organisations.

EPN and BankTrack therefore expect financiers to stay clear if their client pulp and paper companies are unable to meet the minimum requirements.

Mandy Haggith, co-ordinator of the Environmental Paper Network’s pulp finance working group, said: “We want banks and other investors to be our allies in helping to transform the pulp and paper industry towards our Global Paper Vision, by focusing finance only where the industry is sustainable. We hope these red lines will be used by banks to avoid projects and companies with a high level of reputational risk due to their negative environmental and social impacts.”

Karen Vermeer, forest and Equator Principles campaigner at BankTrack, said: “We will use the red lines of this document to check the forest policies of private sector banks, and push for more sustainable policies where necessary.”

* EPN is a network of more than 140 non-governmental organisations globally, focussing on pulp and paper sustainability issues across the global supply chain and paper’s life cycle.

** BankTrack is the international tracking, campaigning and NGO support organisation focused on private sector commercial banks and the activities they finance.

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NGO Letter: Peatland management of APRIL is not sustainable

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A group of NGO sent a letter to the Indonesian paper giant Asia Pacific Resources Limited (APRIL) on peat management in the Kampar Peninsula. APRIL recently announced a peatland restoration project. However, at the same time, the cmpany is continuing to drain peatlands in the same region, for pulp plantations. The letter reminders to APRIL that science show their peat management system is not avoiding peat draining, with all the consequences of this (CO2 emissions, forest fires, soil subsidizing etc), and that industrial plantations on the peatlands of Kampar Peninsula are environmentally and economically unsustainable and irresponsible. The letter asks APRIL to abandon acacia plantations on peat and develop the use of alternative crops that require no drainage, and manage peatlands in an environmentally and socially way.
The letter is signed by Environmental Paper Network, Wetlands International, World Wildlife Fund, Rainforest Action Network, Canopy, JMGR, Walhi Riau, Scale-up and Yayasan Mitra Insani.

Is Asia Pulp & Paper a responsible company?

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We are often asked whether it is OK to buy paper from Indonesia, now that the biggest Indonesian pulp and papers have committed to a moratorium on rainforest logging. Here, Sergio Baffoni explains why it is still too early.

On February 5, 2013, after decades of environmental and social conflicts in Indonesia, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) announced a new Forest Conservation Policy (FCP) including a commitment to zero deforestation. Over the past many years, APP has been criticized for its practices which led to the clearing of millions of hectares of rainforest, the destruction of tiger habitat, displacement and human rights violations of indigenous and rural communities, as well as the release of huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere due in large part to the conversion of peatlands into industrial pulp plantations. In April 2014, APP expanded its commitment to include the protection or restoration of a million hectares of Indonesian rainforest. Then in February 2015 APP announced a new implementation plan to address issues raised by an independent evaluation. Actions were announced in August 2015 by APP on the development of peatland management standards, high-tech LIDAR mapping of peatland , and removal and restoration projects on 7,000 hectares of plantations.

APP’s commitments represent a great opportunity to address its legacy of environmental and social impacts and to change its future practices away from deforestation. However, implementation on the ground is slow and in some cases barely non-existent. An independent evaluation by the Rainforest Alliance, as well as recent reports by other NGOs, have shown gaps and serious challenges that will require more time to be addressed.

These reports revealed that, while APP suppliers’ own deforestation and new peatland development has stopped, deforestation by third parties continues in many of their concessions. Additionally, numerous social conflicts remain unresolved and improved peatland management and landscape restoration plans have yet to be developed. These independent reports on APP’s performance during the last two years, and future monitoring by NGOs, should provide good direction for continued learning and improvement by APP.

The following unresolved issues have arisen within recent months:

  • The magnitude of unresolved social conflict emerged tragically with the murder of the farmer union activist Indra Pelani in February 2015 by security guards contracted by APP. In June, Indonesia’s National Human Rights Commission found gross human rights violations transpired with this case, indicating that significant risk of additional legal violations remains.
  • The Rainforest Alliance evaluation found that the company is failing to stop third party deforestation, which is still widespread in set-aside forest, inside APP and supplier concessions.
  • About half of APP’s plantations are located on peat soil that, once drained, is highly inflammable. The unaddressed heritage of decades of bad peatland practices, combined with third party deforestation and with a long dry season, has made APP plantations one of the sources of the fires that have been ravaging Sumatra and Borneo. The fires have created a smoke and haze crisis that is affecting the entire South East Asian region. It has impacted the health of millions of people in Indonesia and neighboring countries and has led to several deaths. The crisis has also caused schools to close around the region, shut down air transport, and released each day more greenhouse gasses than the average daily emissions from all of the USA. Investigations in Indonesia have reportedly led to the arrest of an APP affiliated concession manager (Bumi Mekar Hijau) while authorities in Indonesian and Singapore (under the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act) have opened legal investigations into APP.

NGO stakeholders have been discouraged by the pace of progress on key issues and by recent changes in stakeholder engagement formats. The ongoing fires, the unresolved social conflicts highlighted by Mr. Pelani’s murder, the ongoing deforestation by third parties, the gaps reported by the Rainforest Alliance evaluation and the company’s expansion plans are worrying developments that risk jeopardising the credibility of APP’s forest policy.

On 6 October 2015, Environmental Paper Network co-ordinated NGOs came together to send an open letter to APP expressing their concerns and proposing a broader set of recommendations.

APP’s answer to this letter is unsatisfactory, essentially reiterating the many steps that have been announced in the past months, without giving any new response to NGO concerns and recommendations. APP’s willingness to act on these recommendations and demonstrate change on the ground must be the measure that paper customers and investors adopt in their scrutiny of APP’s performance. Until such changes are independently verified, APP poses too many social, environmental and governance risks to do business with.

New EEPN report on pulp mill expansion launched at the World Forestry Congress

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On the Civil Society Alternative Programme (CSAP) of the 14th FAO World Forestry Congress (WFC), held 7-11th Septemberin Durban, South Africa, the European Environmental Paper Network(EEPN) introduced its new report Mapping Pulp Mill Expansion – Risks and Recommendations to the civil society and representatives of the FAO and WFC.

Global paper consumption and production has been growing at a steady rate for decades. It has quadrupled since 1960 and is expected to keep growing. EEPN analyzed the upcoming virgin wood fibre pulp mills and their possible impacts on surrounding forests and land-use, by overlapping with maps of intact forests, of ongoing and upcoming deforestation and of sensitive habitats.

The report:

  • reflects a rising global demand for pulp and paper in the future, points out the inequitable access to paper and the need for reducing paper consumption in industrialized countries.
  • provides a general overview of each region of the world where new pulp mills are expected or under construction, and includes maps visualizing their general proximity to identified deforestation fronts and intact forest landscapes.
  • shows that current pulp and paper production is concentrated in Asia, North America and North and Western Europe, while most of the future pulp production capacity increase is expected to take place in Asia, Russia and South America.
  • points out possible impacts and potential risks of increased demand for forest resources in the vicinity of new pulp and paper projects on endangered habitats, environment and local communities.
  • provides recommendations for producers, investors, policy makers and large volume paper buyers or retailers who are concerned about climate and deforestation risks.

The recommendations are an application of an international conservation community consensus for social and environmental transformation in the pulp and paper industry detailed in EPN’s Global Paper Vision. With these recommendations the international coalition of NGOs of EPN intends to provide measures and steps for implementing responsible and sustainable paper production, investment and purchasing.

As the 14th World Forestry Congress aims to build a new vision with a new way of thinking and acting for the future of forests and forestry in sustainable development at all levels, EPN’s hope is that this new report is a contribution to meet these goals, and it calls FAO to adopt a set of goals as ambitious as the recommendations presented by the civil society’s organizations.

EPN is also calling financial institutions to adopt investment policies which ensure that their lending and investments do not cause further deforestation or lead to disputes with indigenous peoples and local communities, adopting effective environmental and social due diligence procedures and covenants included in contracts, binding the client to comply with the bank’s sustainability requirements.

 

Please don’t pulp the last Swedish old-growth forests!

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Sweden produces more paper than any other country in Europe, but at what cost? A letter signed by 45 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has asked the Swedish government to introduce tighter legislation to improve forestry practices in the country. It expresses concern that clearcut forestry threatens some of the last remaining fragments of old-growth forests in Scandinavia, endangering species and the livelihoods of indigenous Sami people.

Most of the NGOs signing the letter are our member organisations. Letter to Swedish government april 2015.

Find here the reply of the Swedish government.