Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Letter: Stop deforestation

Wednesday, November 19, 2008 The Jakarta Post

Letter: Stop deforestation

Wed, 11/19/2008 Opinion

Of course the deforestation of these valuable forests should stop! And this is why:

Manufacturers are sourcing their palm oil from suppliers who aren't picky about where they site their plantations. As the volunteers at the Forest Defenders Camp in Sumatra have seen, this includes tearing up areas of pristine forest and then draining and burning peatlands.

Indonesia's peatlands act as huge carbon stores, so replacing them with plantations them not only threatens the amazing biodiversity, including the rare Sumatran tiger, it also releases huge volumes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. They only cover 0.1 per cent of the land on Earth, but thanks in part to the activities of the palm oil industry they contribute 4 percent to global emissions. If expansion of the palm oil industry continues unabated, that figure can only rise.

All this is a little unnerving as the three companies mentioned above are members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a group of retailers, manufacturers and suppliers who also include multinational suppliers Cargill and ADM. The group aims to create clear standards for producing sustainable palm oil but at present those standards are far too weak to ensure that forests and peatlands are not destroyed to meet growing demand for palm oil.

Global problem, Global solution?
What's to be done? The Indonesian government must urgently introduce a moratorium on forest and peatland destruction, which will provide a chance to develop long-term solutions and prevent further emissions from deforestation.

With deforestation accounting for up to a fifth of global emissions, financing for forest protection must be a core part of the plan to tackle climate change.

The international scientific consensus on climate change is that avoiding the worst impacts of climate change demands global warming be kept as far as possible below 2 degrees Celsius. Emissions of greenhouse gases need to have peaked globally by 2015 and then begin a rapid decline.

We need governments to agree to negotiate a new funding mechanism to protect the world's remaining tropical forests as a critical component of the next phase of the Kyoto Protocol. The resulting reductions in emissions from deforestation must be additional to cuts in emissions from burning fossil fuels.

I. WOUDSTRAUtrecht, the Netherlands