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Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono signed a statute titled the National Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions, known as RAN-GRK, or Presidential Decree No.61/2011, on September 20, the Indonesian government announced on September 26.
The plan, which Yudhoyono had announced two years ago, details how major national agencies, such as the Ministry of Forestry, would curb emissions. It calls for a reduction of greenhouse gases by almost 30 percent, approximately 627 million tons of carbon dioxide, by 2020. If rich countries provide aid, financial or otherwise, to the country, the Indonesian government said it could reduce almost one billion tons of emissions.
A major focus in the decree is forestry, but it also focuses on energy, agriculture, and industry. Dipo Alam, the Indonesian cabinet secretary, said the plan was an attempt to follow Bali’s action plan, and echoed the plan to reduce emissions between 26 percent, or up to 41 percent with international aid.
The announcement came one day before Forests Indonesia, held on September 27 in Jakarta and organized by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). At the conference, Yudhoyono pointed out the benefits and disadvantages of forestry as an industry which the country relied on.
“I call upon our business leaders, particularly those in the palm oil, pulp wood, and mining sectors to partner with us by enhancing the environmental sustainability of their operations,” he said.
Indonesia is the third largest contributor of greenhouse gases in the world, behind the United States and China. Indonesia currently accounts for almost 10 percent of the world’s greenhouse emissions, and almost 80 percent of that comes from deforestation in the form of burning and clearing.
Deforestation constitutes about 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and Indonesia accounts for more than half of that total. Rainforests contain high amounts of carbon dioxide because of the process of photosynthesis in plants which remains under the cover of trees and other vegetation until it is released during deforestation.
Peat bogs are drained for palm oil and timber. To access peatlands, which are also rich in carbon dioxide, developers first dig a canal in the swamps to drain them. When peat is released into the air, it oxidizes rapidly, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. When the swamps are dry enough, timber is removed, and then other vegetation is burned.
The burning then releases more carbon dioxide into the air. In a 2007 World Bank Group report regarding climate change and Indonesia, it was said that underlying problems were the real reasons why Indonesia was having such serious problems in the forestry sector.
The issues related to institutional practices, government regulations, and economics limited the ways forests in Indonesia could be managed in a sustainable way.