Greenpeace ends 27 hour dramatic non violent direct action in Riau

Vows to continue pressing SBY, world leaders on need to take climate action

Feature story - November 26, 2009
Greenpeace today ended a 26-hour dramatic non-violent direct action at the loading facility of Sinar Mas subsidiary Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) owned pulp and paper mill. Sinar Mas has been tagged by the group as a leading forest and climate destroyer in Indonesia. The activity, undertaken by activists from 11 different nationalities, including Indonesia and the USA successfully focused international attention on the critical role that President Yudhoyono and other world Heads of State can play in ending tropical deforestation to avert climate chaos.

Greenpeace activists hang a banner reading "Climate Crime" from the top of a loading crane in the port of a major pulp mill facility in Riau Province, Sumatra, Indonesia.

Vowing to keep taking their message directly to President Yudhoyono and other world leaders, the group said that thousands of people worldwide have sent petitions and letters to the Indonesian leader urging him to take immediate steps to halt deforestation and peatland destruction in the country, which accounts for the vast majority of Indonesia's emissions.

"Ten days ahead of the critical climate summit in Copenhagen, President Yudhoyono has a unique chance to make history by declaring an immediate moratorium on all deforestation and exhibiting the kind of leadership that even the Nobel Prize winning Obama has so far failed to show," said Von Hernandez, Executive Director, Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

"Our non-violent activities in Sumatra over last five weeks have shown world leaders that forest protection is an important piece of the solution if the world is to avert climate chaos. The world cannot afford to lose any more forests and world leaders cannot afford to lose any more time to deliver a fair, ambitious and legally binding climate deal in December. Such a deal must include a commitment to set up a global fund to end deforestation in countries like Indonesia.(1) We will continue to press our demands until our leaders are roused from their denial and inertia on this issue," he added.

On November 12, Greenpeace took action against Sinar Mas owned APP's rival company APRIL to expose the continued destruction of fragile peatlands of Kampar peninsula on the Island of Sumatra.(2) Last week, the Indonesia's Forest Minister, Mr. Zulkifli Hasan, suspended APRIL from destroying about 56,000 hectares of concession area pending a review of the company's permit.(3)

Following today's non-violent action, eighteen international and Indonesian Greenpeace activists have now been detained by the police. Twelve activists blocked cranes at the company's port yesterday to stop pulp exports, and displayed banners reading: "Forest Destruction: You can stop this". Four climbers remained locked onto one of the loading cranes for 26 hours, until removed by the police.  Activists were from Indonesia, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Switzerland, Belgium, Germany, the Philippines and the Netherlands.

The Greenpeace action comes hot on the heels of ongoing attempts by US President Obama and other world leaders to tone down expectations for the Copenhagen Climate summit, already saying that the world should expect at best a political statement where critical decisions on a legally binding agreement are postponed for later. The Obama administration also announced yesterday that the President will attend the international climate talks in Copenhagen on December 9th, more than a week prior to other leaders are due to arrive to negotiate an ambitious and comprehensive climate deal.

"Once again, we have to say to President Obama, 'Right city, wrong date.'  Greenpeace is calling on President Obama to attend on December 18th, commit the US to climate policy the world needs, and earn the Nobel Peace Prize that he is on his way to accept. So far, President Obama has given the world nothing but rhetoric on this issue. We urge him to seize the opportunity to lead his peers towards an urgently needed breakthrough in Copenhagen beginning with a commitment to provide international financing for adaptation, mitigation and forest protection - all necessary components to get agreement from developing nations," said Stephanie Hillman, an American activist detained in Riau.

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. 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.

Notes: (1) Greenpeace estimates that ending global deforestation requires industrialised countries to invest $42 billion (€30 billion) annually in forest protection. (2) Combined, APRIL and APP control 73% of Indonesia's total pulp capacity and own two of the world's largest pulp mills. (3) http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSTRE5AP01620091126 For a map and photographic evidence of current active clearing of peatland forest by APP please go here: http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/id/photosvideos/photos/APP-clearing For further information please see: http://www.greenpeace.org/climatedefenders

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