Sunday, 24 May 2009

Government’s Green Concern is Money, Not Saving Forests: Greenpeace

May 22, 2009 The Jakarta Globe,

Fidelis E. Satriastanti

Greenpeace Indonesia blasted on Friday a government decree on a UN-backed carbon trading scheme, saying it was nothing more than a way to make money from forests as opposed to a meaningful look at how the country could reduce emissions of the greenhouse gas.

“It’s all about selling and buying carbon without even discussing how to reduce our own emissions,” said Bustar Maistar, a Greenpeace forest campaigner. “It fails to touch the substance of the issue.”

He said the Forestry Ministry’s decree on Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Degradation failed to mention any target for reducing emissions, let alone how to achieve its goal.

“There is no clear mechanism about how to reduce the emissions, for instance by halting logging or forest conversion,” he said. “The decree is still too premature to be born because it does not address emission issues.”

The REDD program aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions by establishing a system of carbon-trading that would provide financial incentives to preserve forests. The program was recognized by delegates to the UN’s climate change conference in Bali in 2007 as a leading option to replace the groundbreaking Kyoto Protocol, which is set to expire in 2012. It is set to be discussed at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen in December.

Bustar, however, said there was no point in taking Indonesia’s position on the matter to Copenhagen unless the country brought a progressive national action plan, such as by putting an end to the conversion of peatlands to palm oil plantations. “It would definitely challenge developed countries to also reduce their emissions,” he said.

The National Council on Climate Change, meanwhile, acknowledged that the government’s position on REDD reflected in its second decree on carbon trading, was in its infancy with additional measures to be looked at later.

“It is meant to regulate simple things first. [The regulation] is okay, because it is just basic procedures to register for REDD,” said Agus Purnomo, head of secretariat of the National Council on Climate Change. “Besides, the regulation on REDD is still also under discussion.”

Agus, who is also a Forestry Ministry official, said the decree also involved the local government in the process, not just the central government.

“I think that is a wise step to include recommendations from local governments on REDD, which means it is not only in the hands of the central government. If there are any disputes in the future about it, I guess it can all be settled in court,” he said.

Meanwhile, Fitrian Ardiansyah, program director for climate and energy for WWF-Indonesia, said the decree was a good starting point because it included registration procedures for REDD .

“However, there is one clause mentioning a REDD commission that was not elaborated,” he said. “I am afraid that could be an issue in the future when the procedures are ready and the people have lined up to register but there’s still no commission.”

Fitrian said the decree should be followed by a government regulation or presidential decree that would confirm the authority of the Forestry Ministry as the leading institution for REDD.

“We all know that the ministry would need to deal with local governments that are not directly under them,” he said.

“The parts on funding distribution and how to share money are also still unclear, which can make it hard to attract investments,” he added.