Indonesian Government must get serious about climate action

Will we look into the eyes of our children and confess:
That we had the opportunity, but lacked the courage?
That we had the technology, but lacked the vision?

Feature story - December 1, 2008
Following the opening of the UN climate talks in Poznan, Greenpeace today demanded that governments get serious about taking concrete action to avoid catastrophic climate change.

Hundreds of people stood together to create an image of " Clean Energy Now with a human wind turbine" on the site of a proposed nuclear power plant in the town of Muria . The Indonesian government is forging ahead with plans to build its first nuclear power plant in the shadow of a dormant volcano despite mounting opposition from residents and enviromental groups.

The global environmental organisation marked the opening of the talks by unveiling a 3 metre high sculpture (1) depicting the earth on the brink of destruction from a 'tidal wave' of CO2.  The sculpture, 'Planet Earth: Tipping Point', shows the fragile planet cowering beneath a giant 'wave' made of wood and coal. It will remain on display, serving as a daily reminder to government negotiators that the stakes couldn't be higher.

"The impacts of climate change are racing ahead of the scientific projections", said Arief Wicaksono, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Political Advisor. "Yet there is still an utter lack of leadership in these talks. Like other Parties, the Indonesian government needs to grasp the urgency of the crisis and get serious about taking action".  

Last year, after scientists concluded a shocking report (2) laying out a grim future under climate change, governments at the UN climate Conference in Bali pledged to nail down an agreement by December 2009 in Copenhagen to save the climate. One year on, global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise and the loss of ice at both the Arctic and Antarctic has surpassed scientists' worst-case scenarios. Yet no clear progress on an agreement is in sight. Literally millions of lives are at risk, along with devastating economic consequences and species extinction.

Indonesia is currently losing its forests faster than any other major forested country. According to FAO (2006), Indonesia loses at least 1.8 million hectares of forest per year making Indonesia one of the world's largest greenhouse gas emitters. The main source of Indonesia's emissions is deforestation and the drainage of carbon-rich peatland.

At the July 2008 Hokkaido G8 meeting, Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono made a commitment to halve his country's greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation by 2009. "Six months on from his Hokkaido commitment, we have seen little action to address Indonesia's rampant deforestation. We urge President Yodhoyono to implement an immediate moratorium on all forest conversion, including expansion of oil palm plantations, industrial logging, and other drivers of deforestation", added Wicaksono.

"Indonesia's delegation in Poznan must act responsibly by supporting sustainable forest management and forest rehabiltation, instead of  going after 'compensation funds' to further line the pockets of the logging and palm oil industries, while doing nothing to decrease emissions." warned Wicaksono.

Greenpeace warned that at Copenhagen in one year's time, a global agreement must be reached to save the climate. This means a deal that sees greenhouse gas emissions peak by 2015, and then drop dramatically.  

In Poznan, governments must agree:

  •  a "climate vision" that will address what the science requires: global emissions peaking by 2015.
  • a draft text on the table to start negotiations in March  
  • a detailed work plan to get this completed by Copenhagen in December 2009 and
  • Developed countries must agree greenhouse gas emission reduction targets at the upper end of 25-40%, as identified by the IPCC.

To show that they are serious about reducing emissions, Greenpeace urges the Indonesian Government to take the first easy step and implement an immediate moratorium on all forest conversion, including expansion of oil palm plantations, industrial logging, and other drivers of deforestation. As a responsible member of the international community, Indonesia needs to reduce its emissions from deforestation, combined with quitting coal, encouraging investment in renewable energy and adopting large scale energy efficiency programmes.

Notes: 1. The sculpture, made of wood (representing the ongoing destruction of tropical forests, which account for around 20% of global C02 emissions) and lignite coal (coal makes up 30% of C02 emissions), made by Dutch artist Ruut Evers. 2. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fourth Assessment, concluded in November 2007.

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