Success at Climate Defenders Camp

Feature story - November 24, 2009
Our activists at the Climate Defenders Camp in Indonesia have had an tough time lately. Many of them have been arrested, interrogated and deported - along with independent journalists. At one point police even tried to shut down the entire camp. Yet thanks to local support, our camp continues, in the heart of the rainforest, with the spirit and resolve of those remaining now stronger than ever as we celebrate a first positive step resulting from our work.

Climate polluter gets suspended on the Kampar Peninsula

The Indonesian Ministry of Forestry has suspended the operation of Asia Pacific Resources International Holding Limited (APRIL) on the Kampar Peninsula - pending an investigation into their permits. This is the pulp and paper giant that our activists shutdown earlier this month. And as local authorities do their best to silence us we're witnessing a dramatic growth in both local and international support to protect forests for the climate in Indonesia - and across the globe Washington Post, Financial Times, TIME, Treehugger).

Direct action to defend the climate

50 activists shut down APRIL's operations on the Kampar Peninsula - and as a result many were arrested, intensively interrogated and 11 foreigners were deported.

Immediately, the Indonesian police gave the camp an eviction order. After a 24 hour reprieve, secured by our team on the ground, 300 members of the local community arrived at the camp to show us their overwhelming support - forcing the Chief of Police to reverse his decision to close us down. Our Deputy Program Director, Sarah Burton, was at the camp to express our global commitment to stop deforestation and thank the local community members for their support.

Since then, the police have arrested, detained and deported two more campaigners from Italy and Belgium and two journalists who were on their way to the camp with us from India and Italy. But the local community have demonstrated their support once again and our camp remains active thanks to them!

National support culminates in Jakarta rally

Over the weekend, more than 100 Greenpeace activists and supporters from several of Java's main cities rallied in support of President Yudhoyono's international commitment to reduce carbon emissions from Indonesia. They unfolded a banner reading, "Stop talking, start acting - save the forests for our future".

At the Pittsburgh G20 Summit earlier this year, President Yudhoyono made an international commitment to a 41 percent reduction in carbon emissions if this was supported with international money. This commitment also needs to be matched by developed countries making deep emissions cuts at home. And they need to support forested countries like Indonesia by committing to a fund to protect tropical forests. Click here to read more about our Forests for Climate solution.

Worldwide support for forest protection

Following the detainment and deportation of our Italian campaigner and an independent Italian journalist, Italy's Ministry of Foreign Affairs put out its strongest ever statement on the importance of tackling forest destruction, responsible for about a fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions. That led to Italian supermarket chain, the Co-Op, writing to its suppliers demanding that they stop any dealings with companies linked to Indonesian rainforest destruction. Meanwhile - in Rome an orangutan family of climate refugees sent a message to President Berlusconi asking him to "Cut CO2 not forests". Back in Indonesia, our team unfurled a banner in a deforested area in Indonesia to send the same message to the President from the frontline of destruction.

Over in Switzerland - homeless orang-utans stole the show outside key Government ministries in the capital - they camped out in trees outside government buildings all night to bring the issue to the attention of the Swiss Heads of State.

The Netherlands Prime Minister, Jan Peter Balkenende, was urged to seek a strong agreement in Copenhagen next month as wishes were placed in thousands of shoes which were positioned in The Hague's center square by Dutch Greenpeace volunteers. Traditionally, children throughout The Netherlands leave shoes out for Sinterklaas (The Dutch version of Santa Claus) and expect something in return. This year - we're asking for a good deal in Copenhagen, including a forest fund.

All roads lead to Copenhagen

About one fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation, making it one of the roots of the climate crisis. We will only avert this crisis if Obama, Merkel, Sarkozy, Brown and other world leaders commit to much deeper cuts in emissions from fossil fuels and to provide the critical funds needed so that countries like Indonesia can end deforestation. If they fail, we will face mass extinctions, floods, droughts and famine before the end of the century. The climate deal is expected to include a new scheme to Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD), which will provide the funds needed for nations such as Brazil and Indonesia to end deforestation.

Over a million hectares of forest, mostly tropical rainforest, are destroyed every month - that is an area of forest the size of a football pitch every two seconds. Indonesia has become the world's third largest climate polluter, after China and the US, since it emits such huge quantities of CO2 - mostly from forest and peatland destruction. The peatland forest on the Kampar Peninsula forms part of one of the largest natural carbon "sinks" in the world and is home to rare species including orangutan and the Sumatran tiger.

We set up our Climate Defenders Camp in Indonesia last month to bring urgent attention to the role that rainforest and peatland destruction play in driving dangerous climate change in the run-up to the critical UN Copenhagen Climate Summit this December.

Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) and its main rival APRIL are key drivers of rainforest and peatland destruction on the Kampar Peninsula. We hope the Indonesian authorities stop intimidating peaceful protestors who are trying to help President Yudhoyono fulfill the commitment he has made to cut Indonesia's massive CO2 emissions - and instead continue to investigate companies like APRIL that are destroying the forest and driving global climate change.

Take Action

Join our activists by calling on world leaders to agree on a firm pact in Copenhagen this December - including a fund for forests.

Support Us

Our Climate Defenders Camp was set up thanks to donations from individuals. You can help ensure a more green and peaceful future lies ahead for all of us by giving whatever you can now.