Haze Pollution Treaty Would Open Up World of Opportunities, Ministry Insists.
The Environment Ministry is continuing to make its case for Indonesia to ratify a regional transborder haze agreement, arguing it could pave the way for more carbon trading projects in the country.
Sulistyowati, the minister’s deputy for mitigation and atmosphere protection, said on Monday that ratifying the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution would mean fewer wildfires and hence more forested area to leverage in carbon-trading negotiations.
“If we can prevent forests getting burned down, we can benefit from REDD [Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation] and CDM [Clean Development Mechanism] schemes,” she said.
REDD schemes essentially reward developing countries for not cutting down their forests, while the CDM allows developed countries to offset their emissions reduction obligations under the Kyoto Protocol by paying for reduction projects in developing countries.
The CDM also includes Afforestation and Reforestation methods aimed at replanting trees in forests that have been damaged for the past 50 years (Afforestation) and those damaged since 1989 (Reforestation).
“Indonesia has a huge potential to get CDM projects with the Afforestation and Reforestation methods if we can prevent fires,” Sulistyowati said.
“We conducted a study from 2004 to 2005 where we nominated seven candidate [CDM projects] but only had one approved by the government,” she said.
“The process was then stalled because of permit issues with the central government. So we don’t really know what happened to the proposal.”
Agus Sari, a carbon trading expert, said that while Indonesia could benefit from Afforestation and Reforestation projects, they were very complex and could end up being too difficult to implement here.
“Afforestation and Reforestation [projects] have their own definitions and none of them talks specifically about forest fires or the prevention of forest fires,” he said. “It would become too complicated [in the Indonesian context].”
He added that even without bringing in CDM projects, ratifying the haze agreement would have an immediate benefit to local communities.
The agreement was drawn up by the regional bloc in 2002 in response to the pollution caused by forest fires used to clear land, mainly in Sumatra.
The pollution created a heavy haze that affected other countries in the region.
The worst of the haze came in the late 1990s. Thick smog drifted as far as Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, costing an estimated $9 billion in losses to tourism, transportation and farming.
Indonesia is the only Asean nation that has not yet ratified the pact, with the House stating in 2008 that it threatened the country’s sovereignty.