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Greens Call on President to Stand By Emissions Pledge PDF Print E-mail

The Jakarta Globe, October 19, 2009, Fidelis E Satriastanti

 Green groups on Monday called on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to fulfill his stated commitment to reducing carbon emissions during his second term, which starts today.

On Sept. 25, Yudhoyono announced during the Group of 20 meeting in the US city of Pittsburgh that Indonesia would reduce carbon emissions by 26 percent and up to 41 percent if international assistance was offered. 

“Now is the right moment for the president to begin implementing his own pledge on emissions,” said Joko Arif, a forest campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia. 

“If he’s serious, that target could easily be reached just by focusing on the forestry sector because forest fires, illegal logging and deforestation are the biggest contributors to most of the country’s emissions.” 

A forum of green groups, including Greenpeace, the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) and the Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam), sent an open letter to the president asking him to review several regulations related to the agriculture and forestry sectors. 

The groups want Yudhoyono to strengthen law enforcement, increase peatland protection and accommodate the rights of indigenous people. 

However, Rino Soebagyo, executive director of the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law, said it was not the first time Yudhoyono had given commitments on forestry sector reforms. 

In 2005, Yudhoyono issued a presidential instruction assigning 12 ministries, the Attorney General’s Office, the National Police, the Armed Forces, the State Intelligent Agency, provincial governors and district heads to coordinate and curb illegal logging. 

“It seems that the president makes pledges early in his administration, however, his instruction failed to have any significant impact [on preventing illegal logging],” Rino said. 

He said it was still not clear where the emissions cuts the president promised would come from and voiced suspicion the pledge may have only been “lip service” to secure international assistance. 

“Logically, if the government was serious about implementing the president’s 2005 instruction, then Yudhoyono would not now have to come up with new figures because emissions from the forestry sector would have automatically decreased,” he said.

Furthermore, Rino said, with or without the pledge, it is already the government’s responsibility to deal with forest-related crimes, including forest fires and illegal logging. 

“We are pinning our hopes that the new [Environmental Protection and Management] law will be fully implemented according to its mandate, so that the related sectors will be forced to review their destructive regulations,” he said. 

However, Siti Maimunah, national coordinator of Jatam, said the new environment law was still untested, adding that it was up to the president to ensure that his new administration would oversee a decrease in environmental destructive, which would in turn bring about a drop in carbon emissions.
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