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It is common knowledge to the general population of Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia when the burning of forests to clear for the expansion of Palm Oil is happening. It has almost become a season in itself, the ‘burning season’, and has become apart of the yearly calendar for people who live in these  countries.

As the haze resulting from the burning is spread through the air, the most popular Strepsils sell out of the local shops and an increase in respiratory infections occur. By the end of the ‘burning season’ the image of people wearing protective masques to protect their lungs from the haze becomes more normal than strange. The booming Palm Oil industry fed by the increasing demand for the product by varying industries to produce more to meet the growing demand of the consuming population is a slap in the face reminder of how we are our own worst enemies.

Fires that are used as a tool to clear land for the expansion of Palm Oil can spread and have deter-mental impacts on wild life, the environment and human health. Indonesian fires in 2016 aggressively  spread. This particular fire released large amounts of CO2 emissions. . The fire recorded to have emitted 1.62 billion metric tonnes of CO2.

Current research is looking for ways to build a more sustainable supply chain which in turn could result in a reduction of using burning as a tool to clear land for Palm Oil cultivation. A supply chain that provides Palm Oil in a sustainable way is much needed. In 2016, the Indonesian government made a commitment to increase Palm Oil production to 36.4 million tons annually. On the other hand in their Intended National Determined Contribution (INDC) to mitigate against climate change the government committed to reduce carbon emissions without international assistance by 29% and with international assistance by 41% by 2030.

A more sustainable approach by industry to Palm Oil cultivation has the potential to meet the growing demand while at the same time having less negative impacts on the environment, wildlife and human health. Suggested solutions include green product, grower associations and moving to a higher chain. For these solutions to be recognized a hybrid approach of public policy and private standard have been suggested in this study. 

About judith-ann-colgan

Jodie Colgan is a graduate from University College Cork where she completed her Bachelor of Science in International Development and Food Policy. She is currently studying a Masters of Science in Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (MSc CCAFS) in National University Ireland Galway (NUI Galway). Jodie has previous work experience as a development assistant working in the West Bank in a human rights NGO, the Joint Advocacy Initiative (JAI). During her time in the West Bank Jodie involved herself in some sideline research in the Palestinian Museum of Natural history which included learning about aquaponics systems and how valuable the technology is in achieving sustainable food security across the globe. Currently Jodie is carrying out her Masters research thesis in Penang Malaysia with WorldFish, an international nonprofit research organisation. WorldFish is a member of CGIAR and has a primary goal of reducing poverty and hunger through fisheries and aquaculture. She will be carrying out a gender analysis on Climate Smart Aquaculture practices being implemented in rural areas in Bangladesh.