Yudhoyono, First Stop Forest Fires: Greenpeace

Berita - 3 Agustus, 2009
Greenpeace demanded President Yudhoyono take urgent action to tackle the latest spate of forest fires. Forest fires are raging across Indonesia, with Riau Province in Sumatra, West and Central Kalimantan and parts of Sulawesi being hardest hit - most fires are lit deliberately to clear land for palm oil and paper plantations. Indonesia destroys its forests faster than any other country, making it the world’s third highest climate polluter

For the past two days a Greenpeace team has joined community firefighting efforts to extinguish fires in Kuala Cinaku, Indragiri Hulu district, using equipment left with the community at the end of 2007 following firefighting drills conducted by Greenpeace.

For the past two days a Greenpeace team has joined community firefighting efforts to extinguish fires in Kuala Cinaku, Indragiri Hulu district, using equipment left with the community at the end of 2007 following firefighting drills conducted by Greenpeace.

For the past two days a Greenpeace team has joined community firefighting efforts to extinguish fires in Kuala Cinaku, Indragiri Hulu district, using equipment left with the community at the end of 2007 following firefighting drills conducted by Greenpeace.

A Greenpeace team has joined community firefighting efforts to extinguish fires in Kuala Cinaku, southern Riau, using equipment left with the community at the end of 2007 following firefighting drills conducted by Greenpeace. The small team of 15 has so far only managed to contain fires in a 10 hectare-area close to palm oil concessions where fire recently claimed over 1000 hectares of land. Firefighters were denied access to tackle fires on concession land by the company.

Riau Province alone recorded 2,800 fire hotspots in July and the province is bracing for more as the dry season begins. Whilst Riau has been burning, Government efforts have been pathetic - a four-day firefighting workshop with US and regional military, culminating in a firefighting simulation. Many of the fires are in Riau's forest areas recently allocated for conversion by Indonesia's Minister of Forestry, largely on carbon-rich peatlands.

"President Yudhoyono needs to wake up to the climate crisis and take immediate action by declaring a moratorium on deforestation. During his second term, he will be amongst the 8 key world leaders who have the historic opportunity to lead the concerted global efforts to reverse the worst impacts of climate change at the UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December." said Zulfahmi, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Forest campaigner.

"To show his intent, the President should ensure a 'fire-free' season this year and stop palm oil and paper companies from burning and destroying our forests. Only then forest protection funds can start to flow from developed countries to provide sustainable solutions to forests, the people and biodiversity that depend on them and help win the global battle against climate change, " he added.

A law against burning was introduced in 1999 after widespread fires in 1997/98 caused a thick haze to blanket parts of Indonesia and surrounding nations. The law carries penalties of up to 10 years in prison and a 10-billion-rupiah ($1 million) fine. However, enforcement of the law is weak due to corrupt officials and tortuous legal proceedings. Also, a logging moratorium was declared by RIau Governor, Wan Abu Bakar in 2007, but current Governor, Rusli Zainal, has blocked its implementation.

Forests are a key defense against runaway climate change because they store huge amounts of carbon. When they are destroyed, the carbon is released and causes climate change. Stopping the destruction of tropical forests in countries like Indonesia would save an incredible one fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions and is the fastest and easiest way to keep global temperatures safe. To give our planet a fighting chance, developed countries that are historically responsible for causing climate change, must fund at least $40 billion per year to protect the world's rapidly diminishing forests and make deep emissions cuts at home.

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The world's leaders meet at the end of 2009 in Copenhagen to determine the fate of the climate. They could set us on the path to a deep emissions cuts or they could lock the planet into catastrophic, irreversible climate change.

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