Sinar Mas’s forest destruction in Sumatra creates an annual Climate Debt of IDR 48.5 trillion

Press release - May 25, 2009
New Greenpeace research launched in Beijing today estimates that Sinar Mas group’s destruction of peatlands in Riau Province, Sumatra, releases up to 113 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, equivalent to Belgium’s total CO2 emissions in 2005. (1)


Each year, the company accumulates a climate debt of €3.4 billion (IDR 48.5 trillion), calculated at the average price of 30 euro per tonne of carbon (based on a forecast for Kyoto Phase II by leading carbon market research firm Point Carbon). (2)

According to Greenpeace calculations, if no measures are taken immediately, Sinar Mas Group's oil palm and pulpwood concessions on peatland in Riau are projected to create CO2 emissions reaching 2.26 billion tons, equivalent to € 68 billion (IDR 97.4 trillion) of global climate debt. (3)

Sinar Mas controls more than 780,000 hectares of oil palm and pulpwood plantations in Riau. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) estimates that since 2001 450,000 hectares of forest, an area the size of Lombok, have been destroyed by SInar Mas's Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) for pulp. (4)

"Based on the analysis of satellite maps, 52% of Sinar Mas Group's plantations in Riau are peatlands. Lying under Indonesia's tropical rain forests, these peatlands contain around 35 billion tonnes of carbon. The deforestation and burning of these peat forests will therefore release a huge amount of greenhouse gas emissions - a ticking time bomb for climate change," said Bustar Maitar, Forest campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia

Apart from Riau, Sinar Mas Group's cutting, burning and the expansion of palm oil plantations is also a serious threat to forests and indigenous peoples in Papua, Lereh area. The Group's activities also threaten the fragile ecosystem of Danau Sentarum National Park in West Kalimantan, a site that is listed in the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (RAMSAR).

"What is even more worrying is Sinar Mas's palm oil expansion plan," Bustar Maitar added. "The Group has said publicly that it will expand into 1.3 million hectares of land in Papua and Kalimantan for new oil palm plantations. But what the public doesn't know is that Sinar Mas plans to develop 2.8 million hectares of palm oil plantations in Papua Province alone, more than twice the company's current land holding, Greenpeace has discovered." (5).

"Climate change has become the biggest threat to the future of our planet. If we don't stop these irresponsible acts of deforestation now, then any progress achieved in other areas of the battle against climate change will be reduced. China, as one of the countries most impacted by climate change, will also suffer a great deal as a result. Greenpeace demands that Sinar Mas Group immediately stop their climate crime of destroying peatlands and forests for the plantation of oil palms and pulpwood," concluded Liu Shangwen, Forest campaigner for Greenpeace China.

Other contacts: Bustar Maitar, Forest campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia (in Beijing),+62 8134466 6135 Hikmat Soeriatanuwijaya, Media campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, +62 818 930 271

Notes: (1) Analysis is based on several data sets. Palm oil concession boundaries based on FWI (2006; peatland distribution maps based on Wahyunto et al (2006); APP and APRIL pulpwood concession data held by Greenpeace. Annual emissions for palm oil development on peatland (170t CO2e/ha) and for pulpwood development on peatland (280t CO2e/ha) are based on figures provided by Rieley et al (2008).Belgiums total national CO2 emissions in 2005 is 184 million tons. Source: WRI 2008. Climate Analysis Indicators Tool (CAIT) Version 6.0 (Washington, DC:World Resources Institute) (2) Point Carbon predicts carbon trading prices under Phase II of the Kyoto Protocol (2008–2012) will average €30 per tonne of CO2 (see: Mark Milner (2008) ‘Carbon prices rise against tighter rules’ The Guardian 3 April 2008). (3) Cumulative emissions commitment over about 150 years. (4) WWF-Indonesia Press Release: APP fails to protect High Conservation Value Forests, 11July 2006: (5) Internal company presentation, copy held by Greenpeace