EU leaders must help SBY to protect Indonesia’s forests: Greenpeace

Feature story - October 28, 2009
Greenpeace activists placed two 20 x 50 meter banners with the portraits of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicholas Sarkozy on recently cleared peat land in Sumatra, ahead of the European Union leaders summit that begins in Brussels on October 29.

Greenpeace activists unfurl a banner on arecently cleared peatland forest in the pulp and paper concession of PT.Arara Abadi-siak owned by Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) in Kampar-Riau. Greenpeace is protesting against the destruction of kampar Peninsular`s peatland forest by pulp adn paper and palm oil industries and called on the indonesian goverment to implement a moratorium on deforestation. peatland forest is critical for maintaining biodeversity and it`s degradation releases vast stores of carbon thereby contributing to global climate change

Today's action in Indonesia marks the launch of activities at the Greenpeace Climate defenders Camp in Riau to bring the world leaders attention to the need for the protection of forests as the most urgent measure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avert climate change.

"The EU has accumulated a historical carbon debt by fuelling deforestation and forest degradation abroad. It is now the responsibility of European leaders to commit a substantial amount of public funding to stop the last remaining tropical forests from going up in smoke." Said Bustar Maitar, Greenpeace South East Asia forest campaigner

Indonesia has the fastest rate of deforestation amongst all major forested countries in the world and provides a stark example of the need for a robust plan and the provision of international funds to protect tropical forests.  Driven by global market demands for palm oil and paper products, since 1950 over 74 million hectares of Indonesia's forest have been destroyed completely, with additional areas being severely degraded.

The destruction of Indonesia's peatlands alone accounts for 4% of global human induced greenhouse gas emissions, propelling Indonesia to become the world's third largest greenhouse gas emitter, after the US and China. The reason these emissions are so high is twofold - the rapid rate of deforestation and the related degradation and burning of peatlands. Southeast Asian peatlands are estimated to store 42 Gt of carbon and of this about 35 Gt (83%) are held by peatlands in Indonesia. These Indonesian peatlands represent less than 0.1% of the land on earth yet are responsible for 1.8 billion tones of climate changing emissions per year.

The Indonesian Government recently identified oil palm, pulp and paper, agriculture, and logging industries as the main causes of drainage of peatlands, deforestation, and the resulting emissions.  The report predicts, unless action is taken, that these emissions will continue to increase.

At last month's G20 meeting in Pittsburgh, USA, President Yudhoyono pledged a 26% cut in Indonesia's carbon emissions by 2020 - rising to 41% with international support. By doing so he demonstrated Indonesia's willingness and the kind of strong leadership that is critical to helping the world avoid climate chaos.

"As President of the country with the largest remaining tropical forests in the region and therefore, with most to lose, Mr. Yudhoyono's words are a sign of hope for the millions of people who are already suffering the impacts of climate change. For him to be able to turn his commitment into action, he needs financial assistance from developed countries to make his commitment real. The EU leaders must show leadership like he has and put their money where their mouth is." said Shailendra Yashwant, Campaign Director, Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

For Greenpeace, a good EU position should include, as a minimum, a clear commitment by the European leaders to:  

  • Support the development of a global fund for forests under the Climate Convention, replenished through a new robust and binding financing mechanism, that will mobilize at least EUR 30 billion of public funding annually for the period 2013-2020, to finance the development and implementation of zero deforestation plans in tropical countries, 
  • Exclude forest offset credits from the international carbon markets - REDD must be additional to domestic emissions reductions by Annex I countries and must not create disincentives to the necessary transformation towards a future low carbon economy, 
  • Promote the objective of bringing gross tropical deforestation rate as close to zero as possible before 2020  - Efforts to reduce, but not end gross tropical deforestation, will only prolong the problem and will not provide the results needed to avoid dangerous climate change, species extinction and ecosystem breakdown.
  • Prioritise the protection of intact natural forests (REDD), and exclude subsidies for industrial forestry activities (REDD+) which pose a threat to biodiversity and ecological integrity, and often constitute a precursor to deforestation. It is particularly important to ensure that future public funds for REDD are not used to subsidise industrial tree plantations, logging activities in tropical forests, and the conversion of natural forests to forest plantations. 
  • State clearly that the future REDD mechanism is mandated and designed to contribute to the goals of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. Impacts on biodiversity must be explicitly considered by all REDD activities, rules and modalities.

Support US!

We rely on donations from individuals like you in order to campaign for a green and peaceful future. You will make a difference tomorrow by giving whatever you can today.