Southeast Asia's choking air pollution continues unabated, fuelled by the burning of peat swamps for agriculture. The issue flies in the face of long-standing regional agreements on land clearance by governments in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and is at last galvanizing non-governmental organizations (NGOs), banks and businesses into action against the companies responsible.
Singapore's punitive Transboundary Haze Pollution Act has met with some success (see, for example, J. H. S. Lee et al. Environ. Sci. Policy 55, 87–95; 2016). The Singapore Environment Council, an NGO, has suspended environmental certification of paper-pulp companies that might be connected with the fires. This has prompted some supermarket chains in Singapore to stop selling products containing raw materials from these companies, and banks are reviewing their policies for lending to them. Suspension could prompt companies to become more sustainable and to consider setting aside undeveloped peat-swamp forests for conservation.
Consumers should back this drive for corporate environmental accountability by using publicly available resources (see, for example, www.ethical.org.au) to ensure that their product choices do not result in peat clearance.
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Wijedasa, L., Posa, M. & Clements, G. Peat fires: consumers to help beat them out. Nature 527, 305 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1038/527305b