05 June, 2007

THE AGE: Greenhouse report points finger at Indonesia

REUTERS, Jakarta, June 5, 2007

Indonesia is among the world's top three greenhouse gas emitters because of deforestation, peat land degradation and forest fires, a World Bank and British Government climate change report says.

Increasing global temperatures had already caused prolonged drought as well as heavy rainfall with flooding and tidal waves in Indonesia, putting the archipelago's rich biodiversity at risk, said the report, released yesterday.

"Emissions resulting from deforestation and forest fires are five times those from non-forestry emissions," it said. "Emissions from energy and industrial sectors are relatively small, but are growing very rapidly. This may lead to harmful effects on agriculture, fishery and forestry, resulting in threats to food security and livelihoods."

The report precedes this week's G8 summit in Germany, where global warming is a big item on the agenda.

Indonesia's total annual carbon dioxide emissions stand at 3.014 billion tonnes, the United States, which is the world's top emitter, is at 6.005 billion tonnes, followed by China at 5.017 billion tonnes, according to the report.

Indonesia's yearly carbon dioxide emissions from energy, agriculture and waste are around 451 million tonnes, and forestry and land use change are estimated to account for a staggering 2.563 billion tonnes, said the report, Indonesia and Climate Change: Current Status and Policies.

Indonesia's rainforests are being stripped rapidly because of illegal logging and palm oil plantations for bio-fuels, and some environmentalists say they could be wiped out altogether within the next 15 years. According to some estimates, the country's forests, a treasure trove of plant and animal species, including the endangered orang-utans, have already shrunk by an estimated 72 per cent.

Forest fires, often deliberately lit by farmers as well as timber and oil palm plantation owners, are a regular occurrence on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo during the dry season.

Indonesia's neighbours have grown increasingly frustrated by Jakarta's failure to tackle the annual dry season fires. Last year these fires triggered fears of a repeat of the months of choking haze in 1997-98, which cost the region billions.

"Indonesia's lowland tropical forests, the richest in timber resources and biodiversity, are most at risk," said the report. "Fires from peat land have become the largest contributor to haze."

Indonesia will host the next annual Kyoto Protocol meeting in Bali in December.

The World Bank report said perhaps the largest risk for Indonesia from climate change was decreased food security because of changes in rainfall patterns and soil moisture.


1 comment:

alvinwriter said...

I'm writing in from TheScienceDesk at TheNewsRoom. The forest fires of Indonesia undoubtedly cause changes in weather patterns in the region. This is because Indonesia has the largest forest cover in Asia. As this is being purposely reduced to make way for palm plantations and other commercial uses, a widespread depletion of trees can only result in less carbon dioxide absorption and more heat to reflect back to the atmosphere due to bared land.

Here is related content from TheNewsRoom on the systematic reduction of Indonesia's forests: http://www.thenewsroom.com/details/490614?c_id=wom-bc-ar

TheNewsRoom has plenty more content on global warming and the environment that you can use. Email jtowns@voxant.com to learn more. TheNewsRoom will be glad to hear from you.

- Alvin from TheScienceDesk at TheNewsRoom.com