Thursday, 19 November 2009

Indonesia suspends climate polluters’ licence to destroy rainforest

Indonesia suspends climate polluters’ licence to destroy rainforest

Greenpeace calls on Indonesian President Yudhoyono to end deforestation

Jakarta, Indonesia, 19 November 2009 - Greenpeace welcomed today’s decision by Indonesia’s Forest Minister, Mr. Zulkifli Hasan, to temporarily stop paper giant Asia Pacific Resources International Holding Limited (APRIL) from destroying the carbon-rich forest peatlands of Indonesia’s Kampar Peninsula, Sumatra, pending a review of the company’s permits.

The move follows a Greenpeace protest on 12 November to prevent the company destroying the forest and peatland in the area, in order to grow acacia plantations for the pulp and paper it supplies to the global market. Containing 2 billion tonnes of carbon, the endangered Kampar Peninsula is one of the planet’s largest natural carbon stores. (1) It is under threat of destruction by APRIL and Asia Pulp & Paper (APP). (2)

“By suspending this company’s licence to destroy the forest, the Indonesian authorities are giving the climate some breathing space. Deforestation is one of the roots of the climate crisis. We will only avert this crisis if President Yudhoyono and other world leaders permanently stop all companies like APRIL and APP from destroying the planet’s forests,” said Shailendra Yashwant, Campaign Director, Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Deforestation causes about a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. (3) 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. Rainforest and peatland destruction in Indonesia emits such huge quantities of CO2 that is has driven the country to become the world's third largest climate polluter after China and the US. (4)

“To pull the world back from the brink of a climate crisis, we need Obama, Merkel, Sarkozy, Brown and other world leaders to 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.(5) If they fail, we will face mass species extinction, floods, droughts and famine before the end of the century,” added Yashwant.

Greenpeace set up a ‘Climate Defenders Camp’ on the Kampar Peninsula over three weeks ago 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. Since then, the camp has been visited by ‘Inglourious Basterds’ film star Melanie Laurent, the US Ambassador to Indonesia and supported by Indonesian folk-rock star Iwan Fals.

Over the last week, 13 international Greenpeace activists have been deported from Indonesia, even though they all held valid business visas. Furthermore, two independent journalists have also been detained, questioned and subsequently deported - whilst holding valid permits and visas. This has prompted criticism and condemnation from parliamentarians, civil society and journalist associations both nationally and internationally.

“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,” said Bustar Maitar of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “Instead, they must continue to investigate companies like APRIL that are destroying the forest and driving global climate change,”

Greenpeace is calling for an end to deforestation globally by 2020 as a key part of the UN climate negotiations this December.