Indonesia Seeks To Pressurize G8 Over Emission Cut Targets
By setting up the goal of an absolute emissions cut for its energy sector, Indonesia has become one of the first developing countries to formally announce a carbon emissions cut. The announcement which comes at a time when US and Japan are being asked to cut back on their emissions is expected to put pressure on the developed countries to set serious reduction targets.
The Indonesian environment minister said that the situation is fast deteriorating and unless some serious steps are taken the world would have to face grave consequences. But the minister failed to elaborate the steps his country would be taking to reduce the emissions of the energy sector. He claimed that government would implement laws to prevent large scale deforestation but that is easier said than done.
Indonesia has lately been making big bucks by selling palm oil in the international market. Palm oil prices have touched record highs in the commodity markets because it is used as biofuel. Seeing the opportunity many farmers and contractors cleared vast areas of tropical forests for palm plantations. Government’s loose policies and lack of will to act resulted in huge loss of biodiversity; deforestation also reduced the emissions absorbing capacity of the rainforests – hence a double blow to the environment.
To clear land for palm plantations the farmers burn the forests thus releasing enormous amounts of emissions. Greenpeace estimates that such burning of peatlands and forests in Indonesia emits 1.8 billion tonnes of CO2 every year. Big multi-national companies like Nestle, Procter & Gamble and Unilever pushed up the demand for palm oil thus encouraging the farmers to look for new areas for plantations. Although the companies are ‘committed to sustainable production of palm oil’ the damage has already been done – Indonesia now holds the global record for greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation.
It is hard to imagine the Indonesian government taking steps to prevent deforestation. It would be the same government which ‘overlooked’ this destruction which is illegal according to the Presidential decree and forestry regulations. The country couldn’t have become the third largest GHG emitter without the ‘blessings’ of the government. And such ambitious are the government’s ‘palm oil plans’ that it now plans to tap the untouched forests of the neighboring Papua New Guinea for palm oil production.
And now when the same government pledges to implement stringent laws against deforestation to cut back on the country’s rising carbon emissions one can only see it as a mere tacit to put pressure on the developed nations to set up their own emission goals. The minister chose to announce the goal just a day before the representatives from the G8 countries are scheduled to meet in Kobe, Japan to chalk out their joint climate policy.