Climate Forest Deal in Sight: Indonesia

WASHINGTON

WEALTHY and developing nations should be able to seal an agreement this year on deforestation, unlocking a key part of the next treaty on global warming, Indonesian negotiators said this week.

At December’s Copenhagen climate summit, six nations pledged a total of US$3.5 billion to help developing countries fight the loss of forests, seen as a leading cause of global warming along with industrial pollution.

Basah Hernowo, a senior official at Indonesia’s Forestry Ministry, said he hoped that a system would be finalised by the next climate summit at the end of this year in Mexico.

“I think everybody sees a convergence compared with other sectors. So we are optimistic. Hopefully in Mexico we can complete it,” Hernowo said on a visit to Washington.

The Copenhagen summit, attended by more than 120 leaders, ended with a vague agreement that saved the talks from collapse but triggered criticism from all sides.

Wandojo Siswanto, Indonesia’s climate negotiator handling forest issues, said that key players in Copenhagen agreed on deforestation but lacked details.

“We were not far away from each other. We were already there, but we didn’t want to push more otherwise it would break,” Siswanto said.

“Many people would just say okay, there’s the money. But we don’t know how to access it or how to distribute it,” he said.

Siswanto and Hernowo are holding talks this week in Washington to flesh out the plan. They said Indonesia also recently invited officials from Brazil and the Democratic Republic of Congo to coordinate strategy on tropical forests.

Due to forest destruction, Indonesia is the world’s third largest carbon emitter after the United States and China, with Brazil coming fourth.

Brazil signed an agreement last week with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on US support for the Amazon forests. But Brazil and Indonesia insist that wealthy nations also set ambitious targets to lower their own emissions.

Indonesia – the host of a major 2007 climate conference in Bali – has been among the most ambitious developing nations, saying it will curb emissions by 26 percent by 2020 compared with the level if it did nothing.

In one key project, Indonesia plans to protect at least 800,000 hectares of its Berau forest in Borneo by 2015.

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