'A lot of homework still needs to be done' before Indonesia meets obligations
Two women cover their face while walking in Singapore on Aug. 26 due to smog that came from Indonesian forest fires. The fires help make Indonesia one of the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases. (Photo by AFP)
Indonesia's ratification of the Paris Agreement on climate change has been applauded by church officials who also want to see the government follow through with robust implementation.
After the agreement was endorsed during a plenary session of parliament in Jakarta on Oct. 19, church officials told ucanews.com they welcome Indonesia joining 81 other countries committed to reducing carbon emissions but they see challenges ahead.
"We welcome the government's effort but the ratification must be followed with consistent implementation," said Divine Word Father Fransiskus de Sales Sani Lake, director of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation in Kalimantan on Oct. 20.
"The implementation of the pact must be transparent and accountable," he said, adding that the government must stop issuing mining and plantation permits to corporations.
Franciscan Father Peter C. Aman, director of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation of the Franciscan Friars, called the ratification a positive step.
"If we look at President Widodo's speech in Paris, he strengthened his commitment to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 29 percent. This is something we must support," said Father Aman.
"A lot of homework still needs to be done. For example, the large-scale forest fires continue to have a huge impact. Until now, no serious effort has been taken to deal with this issue," he said.
"The government's sovereignty before corporations must be reinforced. And, using law enforcement, the government needs to anticipate forest fires," Father Aman added.
Khalisah Khalid, chairwoman of the Campaign and Network Building Department at the Indonesian Forum for the Environment, said that the ratification "is not enough."
"It must be balanced with a national policy which is in accordance with the government's commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The government must show its commitment by making development plans with low greenhouse gas emissions," she said.
The ratification, she said, must also be followed by an effort to stop the expansion of monoculture plantations, especially palm oil, which leads to deforestation and forest fires.
"We all know that [forest fires] contribute to greenhouse gas emissions," she added.
Slash-and-burn farming techniques used by palm oil, pulp and paper plantations in Sumatra and Kalimantan caused a haze to blanket the two islands this year. Vast tracts of land are still cleared using this illegal method.
The Jakarta Postreported that the haze crisis contributed nearly 1.4 billion tons to the country's total carbon emissions, making it the world's third-largest air polluter after China and the United States.
The accord is due to enter into force on Nov. 4. Progress on the agreement goals will be evaluated every five years. The first global evaluation will be conducted in 2023.
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