palm-plants1There will be many twists and turns in the run up to Copenhagen.

Most people believe that there will not be a comprehensive climate agreement in December, or if there is, it will be so compromised it will not solve the problem.

But what if the agreement actively makes things worse? According to the Independent newspaper, a key safeguard to stop rainforests being cut down has been dropped from the draft deforestation treaty that will also be signed in Copenhagen.

We now have an unbelievably daft but dangerous situation whereby countries which decimate rainforests to convert them to palm oil plantations will now be able to classify them as forest and therefore receive millions of dollars meant for preserving them.

Whilst to a lay person this is sounds completely nonsensical this is actually what has happened. To make matters worse, an earlier version of the text which ruled out such a conversion has been deleted.

And the people blocking its re-instation are the EU delegation, led by the nation that likes to think it is doing more than its fair share on climate: Britain.

It goes without saying that, whatever the public relations nonsense you read from the palm oil PR machine (which is huge) monoculture palm-oil plantations are in no way a substitute for highly diverse tropical forest.

“The EU has to make sure the wording goes back in,” said Charlie Kronick of Greenpeace. “It’s absolutely essential, otherwise it leaves open the possibility of removing intact, high-value forests and replacing them with oil palms as party of the treaty.”

“It is a priority for the safeguard to be reinserted, or otherwise we will have a situation where countries are paid for converting their natural forests into palm plantations,” adds Emily Brickell, the climate and forests officer for the Worldwide Find for Nature (WWF-UK).

The palm oil PR people  – like Alan Oxley from World Growth – will be grinning from ear to ear.