Indonesia at High Risk to Climate Change: WWF

JAKARTA ~ Indonesia is one of the nations most vulnerable to climate change and is already feeling some of the consequences of global warming, environmental group WWF said in a new report this week.

The report, which cites an array of studies, said that annual rainfall in the archipelago nation has fallen by two to three percent, while average temperatures have risen by 0.3 degrees Celsius.

A high population density – Indonesia is the fourth most populous in the world – coupled with some 80,000 kilometers of coastline, left it extremely at risk from rises in global temperatures, WWF said.

Global sea levels are rising at about two millimeters per year and are projected to accelerate to a rate of about five millimeters annually over the next century.

“A change of this magnitude will undoubtedly result in significant losses of Indonesia’s … coastline and thousands of islands and the associated marine resources,” the report said.

Fitrian Ardiansyah, director of WWF-Indonesia’s climate and energy program, said in a statement that the impact would be widespread.

“As rainfall decreases during critical times of the year this translates into higher drought risk, consequently a decrease in crop yields, economic instability and drastically more undernourished people,” he said.

“This will undo Indonesia’s progress against poverty and food insecurity.”

The report concludes that Indonesia needs to draft ways to address climate change.

At the UN Climate Change Conference here, nations will attempt to lay the groundwork for an agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions after the current phase of the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012.

“The Indonesian government must take its role seriously and lead the way in the fight against global climate change,” Mubariq Ahmad, WWF-Indonesia’s director, said in the statement.

The WWF report closely mirrored another study released this week by the UN Development Programme, which warned that Indonesia’s poor would be most affected by climate change.

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