Sunday, July 6, 2014

Indonesia’s presidential hopefuls face up to deforestation

Sandra Siagian in IPS: As the world’s third-largest democracy heads to the polls next week to elect a new president, environmental activists remain sceptical of the candidates’ commitment to tackle climate change.

Over four televised debates, Indonesia’s presidential contenders – Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo, Jakarta’s current governor, and Prabowo Subianto, a former general – have so far discussed their plans to shape the economy, boost international affairs, manage human capital and ensure clean governance. The environment is one of the last topics to be addressed in the final debate this Saturday ahead of the crucial Jul. 9 presidential election.

“I think because they [the candidates] don’t see Indonesia as a developed country, reducing emissions [is] not a priority for them,” explained Yuyun Indradi, a forest campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia-Indonesia, adding that a strong statement addressing environmental issues from either candidate could possibly convince swing voters.

...But Farhan Helmy, manager of the Indonesia Climate Change Center (ICCC), does not see the issues as mutually exclusive. In an interview with IPS, he asserted that a green economy should be a platform for any party wishing to promote quality economic growth.

“So of course I would like to see the candidates make their environment policies the bigger picture,” he said. “My hope is that whoever leads the country will understand that we are not alone in terms of global efforts and we cannot work alone.”

...So far, the country’s track record is poor. According to a study published this past Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change, Indonesia has outstripped Brazil to become the country with the world’s highest rate of deforestation, even though its rainforests amount to only a quarter of Brazil’s Amazon....

Deforested and degraded land in Kalimantan, Indonesia, shot by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Wikimedia Commons via Fickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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