World leaders: Twelve days left to avert climate crisis

Greenpeace shuts down climate destroyer in Indonesian rainforest ahead of critical UN summit

Feature story - November 26, 2009
Twelve days before the critical UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen, Greenpeace activists shut down the export facilities of a major pulp mill operated by Sinar Mas and owned by pulp and paper company APP in the heart of Indonesia's rainforests. Sinar Mas is a leading driver of global climate change due to its widespread role in forest destruction.

Twelve activists blocked cranes at the port to stop pulp exports, and displayed banners reading, "Forest Destruction: You can stop this." Their action was meant to urge world leaders, including Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to take strong leadership to avert climate chaos and to provide a global fund for forests to end tropical deforestation as part of a fair, ambitious and legally binding climate deal at the Copenhagen Climate Summit in December.

"Deforestation is one of the roots of the climate crisis. We are shutting down the exports of one of the world's largest pulp mills at the frontline of forest destruction to tell our elected leaders that they can - and must - pull us back from the brink of catastrophic climate change," said Shailandra Yashwant, Campaign Director, Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

A message for Obama, too

The Greenpeace action comes as President Barack Obama is attempting to relegate the Copenhagen Climate deal to nothing but a political statement and to postpone critical decisions on a legally binding agreement.

Yashwant continued: "President Obama and other world leaders cannot be allowed to sabotage a strong outcome in Copenhagen because of their lack of political will. Our leaders must agree to nothing short of a fair, ambitious and legally binding deal to avert climate disaster. Significant funds are urgently needed to end tropical deforestation in Indonesia and around the world. This must be a central part of any climate agreement."

Paper giant APP sells its products on the global market in China, the United States, Europe and Australia and supplies many international brands and distributors with paper products including Vogue, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Marc Jacobs. APP, alongside their main competitor APRIL, are together responsible for destroying rainforests and carbon-rich peat soil across Indonesia, including on the endangered Kampar Peninsula, Sumatra. Containing 2 billion tonnes of carbon, the Peninsula is one of the planet's largest natural carbon stores and a key defence against global climate change.

Greenpeace has been working with local communities from a 'Climate Defenders' Camp' on the Peninsula over the past month to highlight the central role that deforestation plays in driving global climate change.

Greenpeace took action in the area against APRIL on November 12. Since then,

both the environmental organization and the local communities have been under sustained intimidation by the authorities including threats, arrests

and deportations. Last week the Indonesia's Forest Minister, Mr. Zulkifli Hasan, suspended APRIL from destroying the area pending a review of the company's permits.

Indonesia is the world's third largest climate polluter after China and the US, mainly as a result of the ongoing destruction of its forests and their peat soils. Globally, a million hectares of forests are destroyed every month - that is an area the size of a football pitch every two seconds - emitting so much CO2 that deforestation is one of the main causes of climate change, responsible for about a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaigner Bustar Maitar said: "Indonesia is climate change's 'ground zero'. Stopping forest destruction here and around the globe is not only one of the quickest but also one of the most cost effective ways to prevent runaway climate change."

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Tell President Obama that it's time to sign an ambitious climate treaty in Copenhagen that includes protections for the world's rainforests!