Indonesia to tout ideas on preventing forest fires at Paris climate summit

Indonesian firefighters putting out a fire in Banyuasin, South Sumatra on Oct 28, 2015.
Indonesian firefighters putting out a fire in Banyuasin, South Sumatra on Oct 28, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (Jakarta Post/Asia News Network) - Indonesia will present its ideas on how to prevent forest fires and rehabilitate damaged peatland as part of the country's climate change mitigation efforts at the upcoming UN climate conference in Paris.

National Development Planning Minister Sofyan Djalil said on Friday (Nov 27) Indonesia's agenda at the summit, officially the United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP21 conference, was to promote serious management of forest fires.

"The most important thing is serious prevention, so that there will be no more forest fires, especially ones caused by humans. If they were caused by natural factors it would be different, but we also need to emphasise readiness," Sofyan was quoted by Antara news agency as saying.

The government has said it would accelerate peatland rehabilitation and halt new peatland clearing concessions following the massive forest fires that blanketed parts of the country as well as Singapore and Malaysia over the last few months.

President Joko Widodo will lead the Indonesian delegation to the summit, which begins on Monday.

Indonesia will bring its previously announced target of 29 per cent lower carbon emissions by 2030 as its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) as part of the climate negotiations.

Sofyan said Indonesia will focus on energy, transportation, waste management, food and other sectors in its efforts to lower carbon emission.

Separately, Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung said Indonesia will also raise global awareness about forest and peatland fires.

"Indonesia expects that the world will also be concerned about [THE FIRES]and not only blame us. Because they have said that our forests are the lungs of the world," Pramono said as quoted by kompas.com

Foreign Affairs Minister Retno LP Marsudi said Indonesia's delegation will highlight its climate change policies in the conference. It will also remind the world that Indonesia was geographically susceptible to the impact of climate change, but at the same time, also needed space to boost its economic development.

Millions of Indonesians and people in neighbouring countries were affected by toxic haze due to severe forest and peatland fires in parts of Kalimantan and Sumatra in recent months as a result of slash-and-burn land clearing methods and a prolonged dry season.

Analysis using data from the Nasa satellite has shown that Indonesia's emissions from forest and land fires skyrocketed this year and surpassed the level recorded during the severe 2006 fires.

In October, total emissions from the fires soared from about one billion tonnes to nearly 1.4 billion tonnes. The fires has turned Indonesia into the third-biggest polluter in the world, after China and the US.