Greenpeace sets up base in Indonesian rainforest to prevent climate destruction

Feature story - October 27, 2009
On October 27, 2009 Greenpeace established a base in the heart of the Indonesian rainforest in order to bring urgent attention to the role that deforestation plays in driving dangerous climate change, a critical issue to be addressed at the UN Copenhagen Climate Summit in December.Greenpeace activists and 200 local community members take part in a traditional ceremony to mark the completion of the Climate Defenders’ Camp, which they built together on the threatened Kampar Peninsula. © Greenpeace / Ardiles Rante

Two hundred local people held a welcoming ceremony for the Greenpeace activists at the Climate Defenders' Camp, which was built on the threatened Kampar Peninsula on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The forest peat soils in Kampar are particularly deep and store some 2 billion tons of carbon. They form one of the largest natural carbon stores on the planet and a significant global defense against global climate change.

There have been several Greenpeace actions out of the Climate Defenders Camp, and the Indonesian authorities have sought to close it down multiple times. But each time, local Indonesians came to the camp's defense. Read more about these developments:

Much of the forest that once surrounded the Peninsula has been destroyed to make way for plantations, largely for products like paper and palm oil, which are transported worldwide and used to make chocolate, toothpaste and so-called "climate-friendly" biofuels.

"We are taking up position at the frontline of forest and climate destruction to tell world leaders that to avert climate chaos they must tackle deforestation here and now," said Bustar Maitar, Greenpeace South East Asia forest campaigner, speaking from the heart of the rainforest.

Southest Asian leaders declare commtiment to stop deforestation

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders met at the 15th ASEAN Summit in Thailand in October 2009 and declared their commitment to a successful outcome in Copenhagen. The imperative for global action to fight climate change demands the same commitment from developed countries. President Obama and EU leaders must get serious about climate change by committing to much deeper cuts in emissions from both fossil fuels and from deforestation. This means investing the funds needed to end global forest destruction.

Ending global deforestation requires industrialized countries to invest $42 billion annually in forest protection, as well as a commitment from Indonesian President Yudhoyono to end the destruction of Indonesia's forests and peatlands.

Ending deforestation is vital to tackling climate change

Globally, almost 2.5 million acres of forests are destroyed every month - an area the size of a soccer field every two seconds - emitting so much CO2 that deforestation is one of the main causes of climate change. Deforestation accounts for about a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. That means we will face mass species extinction, floods, droughts and famine in our lifetime unless we stop destroying forests in countries like Indonesia. Emissions from deforestation make Indonesia the world's third worst climate polluter, after China and the US.

Greenpeace is calling on European Union Heads of State to commit to establishing a fair, ambitious and binding deal at the upcoming UN Climate Summit. In order to help end deforestation they must put money on the table.

While a forest protection system is being set up, Greenpeace is also calling on President Yudhoyono to give the climate some breathing space by instigating an immediate moratorium on any further destruction of Indonesia's rainforests or the carbon rich peat soils they grow on.

At the UN climate talks in Bangkok earlier this year, Yudhoyono pledged up to a 41 per cent reduction in Indonesia's greenhouse gas emissions, pending the availability of international funds.