Indonesia's climate aid questioned

JAKARTA, Nov. 24 (UPI) -- Indonesia is eyeing $1 billion in climate aid -- intended to halt deforestation and reduce carbon emissions -- to subsidize the ongoing conversion of natural forests to plantations, Greenpeace says.

The U.N.-backed Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation scheme, intended to help preserve Indonesia's forests, includes a two-year moratorium on new clearing of natural forests and peat lands. The $1 billion deal between Indonesia and Norway was signed last May.


But in its report, "REDD Alert: Protection Money," released Tuesday, Greenpeace said that because of vague definitions, continued clearance of forest could be allowed in Indonesia under the guise of rehabilitation of degraded forest areas.

Greenpeace said documents from the forestry, agriculture and energy departments in Jakarta reveal plans for expansion in the pulp, palm, agriculture, biofuel and coal sectors that could bring an additional 156 million acres of land into use by 2030.

"The land is roughly equivalent to all the currently undeveloped land in Indonesia," says the report. "The government plans for a trebling of pulp and paper production by 2015 and a doubling of palm oil production by 2020."

This expansion, along with weak definitions for degraded land in Indonesia, could result in the REDD funds, earmarked for protection of the country's forests and peat lands, actually being used to support their destruction, Greenpeace said.


Indonesia is among the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gas emissions, with deforestation and forest degradation accounting for more than 80 percent of its emissions.

Jakarta has pledged to reduce the country's emissions by 26 percent on its own and by 42 percent with international climate aid.

The Greenpeace report comes just ahead of U.N.-backed global climate talks in Cancun, Mexico next week, where the Norway-Indonesia deal could have been viewed as an example for similar schemes.

"President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has a progressive vision for low-carbon development and the deal between Indonesia and Norway could set a fantastic example of how the developed and developing world can work together to protect natural forests, and tackle climate change," said Bustar Maitar of Greenpeace Southeast Asia in a news release.

"However, these plans are being systematically undermined by the influence of the palm oil and pulp and paper industry, which is intent on a business-as-usual expansion model that will destroy much of the country's remaining rainforests and peat lands."

After Brazil, Indonesia has the second-highest deforestation rate in the world.

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