Friday, 7 August 2009

Letter: Leaving forests intact

Thu, 08/06/2009 1:31 PM | Reader's Forum The Jakarta Post

In the Aug. 3 edition of The Jakarta Post, Alan Oxley argued that environmental NGO's are using climate change to push their agenda for protecting forests without taking development into account. Oxley erroneously creates a contradiction between climate and forest protection and development. However it is a combination of the two that Greenpeace promotes internationally.

Stopping deforestation is the first critical step toward tackling climate change. This means that any real climate agreement must include setting aside money for forest protection. This will create a unique opportunity for countries like Indonesia to benefit financially from leaving their forests intact.

Southeast Asian countries are the most vulnerable and least prepared for the impacts of climate change. A increase in global temperatures will lead to a spike in natural disasters, tropical diseases, droughts and floods from which Indonesians will suffer. The climate crisis will in the long run have a far greater effect on the global economy than the current economic crisis. Pushing for strong international measures to curb rapid climate change, like Greenpeace and other environmental NGO's have been doing, is pushing for development.

It is clear that the industrialized world must take the strongest measures and carry the heaviest financial burden of mitigating climate change due to their historic and current levels of emissions. This means rapidly cutting emissions at home, and funding developing nations like Indonesia, to prevent and prepare for climate change. Indonesia is one of the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases, mainly caused by widespread deforestation.

In Indonesia, decreasing emissions means stopping deforestation, something the international community will offer funding for. However, they need to know that their money is a good investment. The ball is in SBY's court. If he demonstrates a commitment to stopping deforestation through an immediate moratorium on peat land and forest destruction, substantial funding will flow.

This money can be used for truly sustainable development measures, especially in forested regions. Indonesia has millions of forest-dependent peoples, so by protecting the forests we will be securing their livelihoods and providing communities with alternative income streams. Meanwhile, Indonesia's commodity industries, such as the palm oil industry, can continue to grow by investing in better management of existing plantations and increasing yields. In light of these arguments, Oxley cannot possibly justify his claim that environmental organizations are against growth.

Nur Hidayati
Country Representative
Greenpeace Southeast Asia