Greenpeace challenges President Yudhoyono to honour his commitment to cut emissions and fight climate change

Press release - February 18, 2009
Greenpeace is sending an urgent message to Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, ahead of his meeting with the new US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to take immediate action to combat dangerous climate change and stop Indonesia’s rampant deforestation.

Greenpeace reaction of plans recently unveiled by the Ministries of Forestry and Agriculture to open up vast areas of Indonesia’s forests and peatlands for conversion to pulp and paper and palm oil, make it impossible for the President to honour his commitment and fulfil Indonesia’s international obligations.

President Yudhoyono made a commitment to the international community to halve Indonesia's emissions from deforestation by 2009. However, plans recently unveiled by the Ministries of Forestry and Agriculture to open up vast areas of Indonesia's forests and peatlands for conversion to pulp and paper and palm oil, make it impossible for the President to honour his commitment and fulfil Indonesia's international obligations.

"Allowing the destruction of more peatland areas is a disaster for the fight against climate change and will cement Indonesia's position as the third biggest climate polluter on the planet. With elections around the corner, the Ministries' plans look suspiciously like an attempt to satisfy the country's powerful paper and palm oil industries at the expense of the environment," said Bustar Maitar, forest campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

One of the leading issues that Secretary Clinton reportedly wants to discuss on her four-country tour of Asia is climate change. This is especially relevant as the US and Indonesia are the second and third largest climate polluters on the planet. The vast majority of Indonesia's emissions come from deforestation and peatland drainage and conversion.

"We warmly welcome Madam Secretary Clinton to Indonesia, especially as President Obama's new administration is showing positive signs that it is serious about tackling climate change", said Maitar. "This is a global problem, and it requires global action to solve it. That means deep emission cuts for developed countries like the US, and a global fund to stop deforestation in developing countries like Indonesia."

Indonesia's economic development need not come at the expense of its future and its forests. Standing forests are a tremendous carbon storehouse and offer many more economic opportunities standing than cleared and burnt.

Greenpeace is calling on industrialised nations to fund the US$15-30 billion per annum that experts estimate is needed to protect the world's rapidly diminishing forests and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation. Strong leadership from the US, and partnership with large developing nations such as Indonesia, are essential to reaching an agreement at the critical UN Climate Talks to be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, at the end of this year.

"Only by all nations taking immediate action can we avoid catastrophic climate change. Secretary Clinton and President Yudhoyono must show this global leadership. President Yudhoyono must control his Ministries and declare an immediate moratorium on conversion of Indonesia's forests and peatlands. Only then will Indonesia benefit from international assistance in terms of funding and expertise for the effective implementation of the moratorium", urged Maitar.

 Greenpeace is an independent, global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment, and to promote peace.

Other contacts: Bustar Maitar, Forest campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, +6281344666135 Martin Baker, Communications Manager (Asia), Greenpeace International, +6281315829513