Indonesia Threatened by Global Warming

JAKARTA ~ Indonesia is particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate change as global warming threatens to raise sea levels and flood coastal farming areas, threatening food security, a report released this week said.

The report, sponsored by the World Bank and Britain’s Department for International Development, said global warming could increase temperatures, shorten the rainy season and intensify rainfall, leading to a significant fall in rice yields.

It said thousands of farmers in productive coastal areas would also have to look for other livelihoods if predictions of a rise in sea level came true across the vast archipelago nation.

“Indonesia is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change including prolonged droughts and floods raising serious food security and health threats while endangering the habitats and livelihoods of coastal communities,” said the report issued ahead of World Environment Day on Tuesday.

Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar warned in January Indonesia could lose 2,000 small islands by 2030 due to a rise in sea levels as a result of climate change.

The report also stressed that deforestation, degradation of peat land and forest fires had placed Indonesia among the world’s top emitters of greenhouse gases.

Deforestation and land conversion, mostly by fires, accounted for 75 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the Indonesian forestry sector, it said.

Rising temperatures due to global warming would further dry up the rainforest and peat swamps, increasing the risk of even more intense fires, the report said.

“Activities in forestry are the largest contributor to emissions of greenhouse gases in Indonesia,” report author Agus Sari said in a press release.

“It is time we put together all of our resources to prevent forest fires and irresponsible deforestation. We need to be united in this effort because the potential dangers of climate change are too great to ignore.”

Every year, Indonesian farmers burn forests and scrubland to clear land for agriculture, causing a haze that spreads across Southeast Asia during the dry season, affecting tourism and health in the region.

The government has outlawed land-clearing by fire, but weak enforcement means the ban is largely ignored.

Indonesia will host the UN climate change convention in Bali later this year.

Jakarta signed the Kyoto Protocol on fighting climate change in 1998 and ratified it in 2004.

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