Hundreds protest Indonesia’s COP26 reversal on deforestation

Environmentalists are opposing an attempt by Indonesia to backpedal on a pledge at the UN climate conference in Glasgow.

An activist at the climate protest in Jakarta, Indonesia [Dita Alangkara/AP Photo]

Hundreds of climate activists have taken to the streets in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, as the government appeared to back away from pledges to halt deforestation made at the ongoing COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

The rally took place on Friday, a day after Indonesia’s environment minister criticised a global plan to end deforestation by 2030 and cut carbon emissions as “unfair” and at odds with the country’s development plans.

Environment groups said the government of Indonesia did not appear to be serious about cutting greenhouse gas emissions and halting the destruction of its natural resources, which account for a third of the world’s rainforest.

Wahyu Perdana, an activist with local environment group WALHI, told the Reuters news agency that Jakarta was “paying lip-service” to tackling climate change while raising production of coal, the dirtiest of the fuels causing global temperatures to rise.

Greenpeace Indonesia’s forestry campaigner Iqbal Damanik said at the protest that Indonesia’s current policies enable deforestation that favours big companies and hurts local communities living off the forests.

Indonesia, the eighth-biggest emitter of greenhouse gas in the world, plans to phase out coal for electricity by 2056, as part of a plan to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2060 or earlier.

An environment ministry spokesperson did not respond to the environmental groups’ criticism.

World leaders gathered in Glasgow this week for talks to secure promises from countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions and keep the rise in the average global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 Fahrenheit).

More than 100 countries on Monday promised to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by the end of 2030, pledging $19bn in public and private funds to invest in protecting and restoring forests.

The joint statement was hailed as a success as it included Brazil, Russia, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which collectively accounts for 85 percent of the world’s forests.

Adding to the confusion about Indonesia’s position, the country’s vice foreign minister on Thursday denied that zero deforestation by 2030 was even part of the COP26 pledge.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies