Indonesia Could be a Major Contributor to Global Warming

Indonesia is currently pursuing its target to become a developed country. This is done in various ways, one of which is by converting its natural resources into consumer products.

The latest example is that the government in Jakarta plans to build more than 100 coal-fired power plants, and expand palm oil production for local biofuel consumption.

Even though the plan could bring lots of benefits to the people, such a plan will increase deforestation in the country and contribute significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.

How so?

In a report by a Belgian climate expert, Xavier Fettweis, on Euronews, it is said that the growing warming of the Arctic, which is the result of global warming not because of natural symptoms, should be an alarm for countries in the world, resulting in the consideration of policies to protect their forests instead of doing activities which will certainly have an impact on global warming.

Notwithstanding the new plans, Indonesia, alongside Nigeria and North Korea, already have the highest rates of deforestation in the world.

In one year, Indonesia lost around one million hectares of its forests. Deforestation in Indonesia is mainly done for opening new lands for making palm oil fields and building infrastructures. As reported, the country is the biggest producer of palm oil globally, using 16 percent of deforestation to open new palm fields.

Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry, Siti Nurbaya Bakar, said that President Joko Widodo had tried to solve the problem by extending the moratorium on permits for forest clearing on August 5, 2019.

The moratorium was claimed to be effective. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry reported that deforestation rates in areas covered by the moratorium between 2011 and 2018, the period in which the moratorium was in force, dropped 38 percent.

However, an analysis of satellite imagery by Greenpeace shows that deforestation rates increased in these areas after 2011. Greenpeace noted that 12,000 square kilometers of forests were lost.

Greenpeace said the government data was inconsistent or not available in a format that could be processed using geographic information system (GIS) software.

At the same time, major companies including Nestle, Mars, PepsiCo, and Unilever have committed to buying palm oil from companies that do not participate in deforestation.

But oversight has proven to be lacking. A Greenpeace report last year found that the palm oil distributors that those companies buy from are, in fact, linked to land-clearing in the Indonesian forests.

Moreover, drone footage gathered in September 2016 discovered widespread evidence of the criminal use of fire to clear forests in Riau province on the island of Sumatra. A senior official in Riau has estimated that the province contains a million hectares of illegal palm oil plantations.

The facts above show that the government in Jakarta has not done enough to put an end to deforestation and now it is planning to pursue plans which will involve further deforestation of its forests.

It is important to note that, as estimated by Nature Communications Journal, one hectare of forest converted into a palm oil plantation in Indonesia results in 174 lost tons of carbon.

Thus, if Indonesia keeps turning a blind eye to this reality, Indonesia’s commitment to the 2018 Paris Agreement, whereby it aims to reduce emissions from deforestation by 29 percent by 2030, will not only be questioned, but the reality could also make Indonesia one of the major contributors to global warming.

Indonesia should reconsider its plans

Taking this into consideration, Indonesia needs to reconsider its various plans which would result in increased deforestation. This is not to say that those plans should not be carried out. Rather, it should rethink deeply and carefully on how to realise those plans without a minimum impact on the environment.

At the same time, concrete and strict policies are required to minimise deforestation in the country.

There is also a need for programs to replant trees in places where deforestation has taken place and the government must hold those accountable who have deliberately burned forestlands.

The government must be firm in its actions to ward off any future crimes against nature.

If these measures can be implemented to help preserve forests, then Indonesia could once again be seen as an environmentally-conscious nation.