Remember Our Forests, Greenpeace tells Presidential hopefuls

Press release - July 2, 2009
Greenpeace this morning urged incumbent President Yudhoyono to draw up an urgent action plan to protect Indonesia’s last remaining forests, by staging a parody of President Yudhoyono’s speech on July 1st where he called upon Indonesian people to remember their natural heritage. In the Greenpeace parody, the actor admits that his policies for forest protection have been woefully inadequate and that he must do more for forest and climate protection.

For the past months Greenpeace has been challenging the campaign teams of the three candidates to take action and decisive policy steps to address climate change and deforestation. Greenpeace has visited TV studios and election campaign rallies to stage election candidate debates with it's own parody versions of the Presidential teams, to encourage the real candidates to get serious about climate change and deforestation.

"So far we have only heard nice words and empty promises, but still no action plan on stopping deforestation, which is key to the very survival of Indonesia's economy and people, and central to global efforts to combat climate change", said Joko Arif, Greenpeace Southeast Asia forest campaigner. "We urge Indonesians everywhere to remember what each candidate has said about forest protection when they vote in the July 8th election. Vote for Forests, Vote for our Future!"

During the Presidential election campaigns over the past month, Jusuf Kalle has asked for Greenpeace's help to attract developed country funding for protecting forests, which he admits are almost gone. Megawati Soekarnoputri has talked about a moratorium on deforestation. However, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono remained quiet until yesterday, when his campaign team took out a full-page colour advertisement in Media Indonesia to defend his position on forest protection.

Successive Indonesian Governments have allowed most of the country's forests to be destroyed for paper, timber products, chocolate bars, cosmetics and toiletries, cooking oil and 'so called' biodiesel. If the forest loss continues, the new government will not only be guilty of crimes against the environment and depriving millions  of forest-dependent people of their homes and livelihoods, they will also be guilty of climate crimes, the impacts of which will extend far beyond Indonesia's national boundaries .  

Global efforts to contain the impacts of climate change culminate this year at the UN climate talks in Copenhagen in December where forest protection for climate stability will be discussed. Developed countries are expected to front billions of dollars for the protection of forests and a substantial portion could come to Indonesia. Greenpeace urges Indonesia to show its commitment in order to receive this money. This means declaring and implementing a moratorium on any further deforestation to give the time and space necessary to put in place the systems required to ensure forest protection money goes to where it is most needed.

"The Presidential election on July 8th presents both an opportunity and a threat. The opportunity for the successful candidate to help Indonesia and it's people reap the benefits of funding for forest protection and clean energy, and the threat that millions more Indonesians will suffer the impacts of further forest destruction and worsening climate change if business as usual continues", concluded Arif.

 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: Joko Arif, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Forest campaigner, +62 817 0099 700 Hikmat Soeriatanuwijaya, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Media campaigner, +62 818 930 271

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