Indonesia: President Signs Decree to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Fidelis E. Satriastanti Jakarta Globe 26 Sep 11;

President Susilo Bambang Yuhdoyono has signed a presidential decree creating a National Action Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, known as RAN-GRK, but environmental groups have questioned whether the decree will actually produce any action.

Greenpeace doubts that the government will be able to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions.

“Although the Indonesian government listed forestry as pivotal to the efforts of reducing emissions, since Yudhoyono announced his commitment to reduce emissions, by 26 to 41 percent in 2009 mainly from the forestry sector, the forest conditions have not gotten better,” said Yuyun Indradi, forest campaigner from South East Asia Greenpeace.

The RAN-GRK decree is an action plan for implementing several activities, directly or indirectly, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions according to the national development target.

Cabinet secretary Dipo Alam said the decree was issued based on Indonesia’s geographical location, which makes it prone to the impacts of climate change.

“This is a follow-up to the Bali Action Plan agreement during the 13th Conference of Parties United Nations Climate Change Convention (COP-UNFCCC) in Bali, December 2007. It also fulfills the commitment of the Indonesian government to voluntarily reduce greenhouse emissions by 26 percent on our own or a reduction of 41 percent with international help,” Dipo said.

“For that reason, there should be guidance in the drafting effort and steps to reduce greenhouse emissions.”

Yuyun said the new decree is a test for the president to make his commitment a reality.

“The problems related to forests are complicated and it is not enough to solve them with the moratorium decree or with RAN-GRK.”

SBY Vows to Protect Forests
Arientha Primanita & Fidelis Sastriastanti Jakarta Globe 27 Sep 11;

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Tuesday stated his commitment to ensure sustainable development of the country’s environment and forests.

“I will continue my work and dedicate the last three years of my term as president to deliver enduring results that will sustain and enhance the environment and forests of Indonesia,” Yudhoyono said in a speech in his opening address at the Forests Indonesia Conference.

The president said the country’s people, economy, environment and way of life are tightly intertwined with its forests.

“Our success in managing our forests will determine our future and the opportunities that will be available to our children,” Yudhoyono said.

But he will need to work hard to convince the nation’s environmental groups, who have previously accused the government of making grand statements on conservation but failing to deliver results.

The conference was hosted by the Center for International Forestry Research and was attended by 900 participants from the government, the business community and civil society as well as foreign donors.

Its purpose was to discuss the future of forests in Indonesia, which has the third-largest amount of tropical forest in the world.

While many now recognize the importance of safeguarding the country’s many forests, however, they remain under “tremendous” pressure, Yudhoyono said.

“As a developing country, we are prioritizing economic growth and poverty eradication. But we will not reach those aims by sacrificing our forests,” Yudhoyono said.

Indonesia should be able to find a balance, he said.

“We must change the way we treat our forests so that they are conserved even as we drive hard to accelerate our economic growth,” he said.

Yudhoyono said he did not want to have to tell his granddaughter someday that the country failed to save its forests.

To alleviate the pressure on forests, Yudhoyono said the government had set up programs to enhance agricultural productivity as well as ensure an adequate stock of staple food, including rice.

The government has also launched a tree-planting campaign that will aim for at least one billion new trees annually, Yudhoyono said.

“It is said that ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away.’ I would like to say: ‘A billion trees a year shields the world’s lungs from decay,’ ” he said.

Yudhoyono also said that Indonesia remained steadfast in its pledge to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 26-41 percent by 2020.

Globally, deforestation accounts for up to 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. In Indonesia, however, that figure is 85 percent, making the country one of the highest emitters in the world, the president said.

“A long journey still awaits us. We know we must do more to address the primary sources of our greenhouse emissions, such as illegal logging, forest encroachment, forest and land fires and peat land drainage,” Yudhoyono said. “And indeed we are working hard and comprehensively to overcome these challenges.”

Yudhoyono emphasized the long-term importance of caring for the country’s forests while continuing to pursue a path of development.

Cifor director general Frances Seymour said that leadership was needed not only from the government but also from business and civil society to chart the best way forward for Indonesia .

“While there are some win-win opportunities to reconcile forest management to meet both global and domestic objectives, there will also be some trade-offs that will require leadership,” Seymour said.

REDD+ potential funds reach up to Rp270 trillion: CIFOR
Antara 26 Sep 11;

Bogor, West Java (ANTARA News) - The potential flow of funds from advanced nations to developing countries to deal with deforestation through REDD+ programs is estimated to reach up to US$30 billion or Rp270 trillion annually, according to the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).

"The potential funds flow from developed countries to developing nations for REDD+ programs is quite huge, reaching 30 billion US dollars," Budhy Kristanty, the spokesman of CIFOR said here on Monday.

The REDD+ (Reducing Emission from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus) is a global mechanism to reduce emission and deforestation as well as forest degradation.

Under the REDD+ mechanism, it has also been agreed globally to boost conservation and sustainable forest management as well as to icnrease the world forest carbon reserves.

Budhy said Indonesia has the highest number of REDD+ pilot projects in various development stages.

"Indonesia has become an early participant in various bilateral and multilateral initiatives to prepare the implementation of REDD+ at the national level," he said.

The REDD+ program implementation plan at the national level will be discussed in a CIFOR conference on the future of Indonesian forests and the climate change to be held in Jakarta on Tuesday (Sept 27).

The conference is expected to be participated in by around 1,000 people consisting of experts, NGO activists and forest stakeholders.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is scheduled to official open the conference.

The one-day conference is entitled "Forests Indonesia: Alternative futures to meet demands for food, fiber, fuel and REDD+".

The conference will feature agenda-setting keynote speakers and a series of engaging forums under two themes, namely "Trade and investment: Implications for forests", and "REDD+ in transition to a low-carbon future."

Editor: Priyambodo RH

Indonesia's SBY Pledges to Save the Forests
Asia Sentinel 29 Sep 11;

But we’ve heard that before

Although Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told a conference in Jakarta Tuesday that he is committed to ensuring sustainable development of the country’s tropical forests, the third largest in the world, there are plenty of reasons to believe he won’t be able to keep that promise.

For instance, Yudhoyono made the statement in the middle of one of the worst years on recent record for smoke and haze extending across a wide swath of Southeast Asia. Haze from illegal burning has become a permanent feature in Jakarta, the country’s capital. The smoke, from illegal clearing of forest in Sumatra and Kalimantan, was so dense earlier this month that Singapore offered to send firefighting planes to try to douse the blazes out of a fear that decreased visibility could endanger the 300-kilometer per hour plus Formula 1 cars racing on the city’s road circuit in trials and the Grand Prix from Sept. 23 to Sept. 25.

The president has made repeated statements calling attention to the need to preserve the country’s forests. Indonesia, with almost no smokestack industries, nonetheless ranks third in the world behind China and the United States in the production of greenhouse gases, which are universally assumed to be the main cause of global warming, other than by cranks in the US Congress. While globally deforestation accounts for up to 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, in Indonesia, that figure is 85 percent, the president said.

“I will continue my work and dedicate the last three years of my term as president to deliver enduring results that will sustain and enhance the environment and forests of Indonesia,” Yudhoyono told the conference, which was hosted by the Center for International Forestry Research, adding that he didn’t want to tell his grandchildren someday that the country had failed to preserve its forests.

Privately, however, say sources in Jakarta, Yudhoyono regularly complains that orders his ministers simply ignore his orders. A recent poll has shown the administration’s once-high approval rating has fallen from 52 percent in January 2010 to just 38 percent today. Although there are myriad other reasons for his descending ratings, including a massive corruption scandal over construction of a sports facility, Yudhoyono said prior to the poll that only half of his orders are carried out.

The Forestry Ministry, headed by Zulkifli Hasan, a former businessman and secretary general of the National Mandate Party, would be a good place to start searching for orders to be carried out. The ministry earns US$15 billion in fees from land permits. It is currently being pursued by the

Corruption Eradication Commission, known by its Indonesian-language initials KPK, which is investigating the ministry for the granting of illegal permits.

According to the NGO Greenomics Indonesia, the forestry ministry’s lack of commitment to protecting its forests was demonstrated by an announcement in mid September that 7.4 million hectares of oil palm concessions in Kalimantan would be legalized and categorized as forest areas, and would be treated as additional forest cover for the purpose of mitigation of climate change. Under a Ministry of Forestry Regulation dated Aug. 25, the ministry is now using climate change mitigation as a legal justification to legalize plantations with legally defective licenses.

Thus, not only are the areas being cleared not being recorded as such, they will instead be treated as additional forest cover. But not only are oil palm plantations not considered to be mitigating climate change, the underlying peatland destroyed to allow for the clearing of plantations are -- or were – valuable carbon sinks.

Indonesia Corruption Watch, a private watchdog, was quoted by Reuters in an investigation of the country’s timber industry as saying illegal logging and violations in issuing forest use permits produce as much as US$2.3 billion in bribes annually. The Reuters story warned that corruption in the ministry was making a mockery of western attempts to set up a program for buying and selling carbon credits

The country’s 17,000 islands boast total forest cover today of 88.5 million hectares. Given growing population pressures as well as destroying forest and peatlands for oil palm plantations, primary forest is disappearing at a rate of about 2 percent per year. Some 28.07 million hectares of primary forest have disappeared since 1990, or 24.1 percent of forest cover, according to the website Mongabay, which monitors environmental degradation worldwide..

“Logging for tropical timbers and pulpwood is the best-known cause of forest loss and degradation in the country,” the NGO wrote in a report on Indonesia. “Indonesia is the world's largest exporter of tropical timber, generating upwards of US$5 billion annually, and more than 48 million hectares (55 percent of the country's remaining forests) are concessioned for logging. Logging in Indonesia has opened some of the most remote, forbidding places on earth to development. After decimating much of the forests in less remote locations, timber firms have stepped up practices on the island of Borneo and the state of Irian Jaya on New Guinea, where great swaths of forests have been cleared in recent years and logging firms have to move deeper and deeper into the interior to find suitable trees.”

One of the best examples of the forestry ministry’s corruption revolved around Wandojo Siswanto, Indonesia’s lead negotiator at the 2009 United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Copenhagen, Denmark, and described as a “key architect” of Indonesia’s role in the UN’s Collaborative Program on Reducing Emissiions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developng Countries, known as REDD.

In December 2010, Wandojo was arrested and given three years in prison for taking a US$10,000. At the time, Wandojo was responsible for tendering a global positioning system procurement project for the ministry. At the time of the arrest, Wandojo insisted he had carried out the deal on orders from his superiors.

“A long journey still awaits us. We know we must do more to address the primary sources of our greenhouse emissions, such as illegal logging, forest encroachment, forest and land fires and peat land drainage,” Yudhoyono said in his speech. “And indeed we are working hard and comprehensively to overcome these challenges.”