Sunday, November 23, 2008

Indonesia & climate change

Indonesia is the third-largest greenhouse gas emitter on the planet - after China and the United States. The vast bulk of its emissions are caused by deforestation of its tropical rainforests - particularly in central Samatra.  Deforestation emissions in Indonesia are about half the total emissions of China.

 Australia has an interest in reducing these emissions if only because this might help forestall the arrival on our doorstep of millions of impoversished environmental refugees generated by climate change.   In addition, Indonesia has 120 million hectares of rainforest and 10% of the world's biodiversity that people around the world value as public goods. 

Australia does have an aid scheme to help Indonesia limit deforestation but the amounts involved are of the order of tens of millions of dollars when billions are required.

There are huge potential climate change mitigation as well as biodiversity conservation benefits from limiting this deforestation.   Integrating forestry into Clean Development Mechanism arrangements would be a low cost way of reducing global emissions.

8 comments:

sir henry casingbroke said...

I wonder what bans there are in place at entry of tropical timber importing countries?

Endemic corruption in Indonesia involving its military (which is heavily involved in the timber trade) would make any "mitigation" attempts hard to administer as the TNI is a law unto itself and would not honour any such arrangements - the reason is obvious, they would be cutting themselves out of a source of revenue.

China is the chief culprit in creating the demand for such timber thus playing a huge part in tropical deforestation. China is world's biggest importer of tropical timbers at 7.3 million cu m. most of it from Borneo. India is next with 3 million cu m, Japan is the third largest importer, mainly from PNG and West Papua where felling is done of tree species not even previously recorded . The US consumes 17 percent of the world's output of timber and is the next largest importer of tropical timber, about $800 million's worth annually for some 1.5 million cu m. France is the biggest importer in Europe. Even Thailand is a significant importer of tropical timber with reported imports ca. 450,000 cu m. *

So, 5 to 6 governments, a roundtable, some persuasive arguments. Organise it Harry, see how you go.
_____________________
* sources: http://rainforests.mongabay.com/

Tim Curtin said...

Really, Harry, do you have to believe everything you read in The Age, especially when it is reporting people Allan Behm and Tony McMichael (I note your lack of attribution). There is not a word of truth in any of their reported comments or yours. Indonesia is not the world's third largest GHG emitter because of its alleged "deforestation". Most of that results in either new timber plantations or in oil palm estates. The latter absorb far more atmospheric CO2 both p.a. AND per hectare than the mostly senescent trees they replace (have you ever seen an oil palm tree?). Unlike the forest, oil palm feeds billions.As for Behm's and your "environmental refugees" the most likely direction if IPCC and Garnaut are to be believed with their predictions of endemic droughts across Australia is FROM Australia to Indonesia as IPCC modelling shows increasing rainfall in the tropics.

hc said...

Tim, Evidence that oil palm estates provide the same greenhouse gas benefits? I have not seen it.

Tim Curtin said...

HC: See Lamade & Bouillet, Carbon Storage and Global Change: the role of oil palm, in (www.ipcc.ch/pub/spm22–01.pdf); Lamade has various other papers and articles on oil palm plant physiology etc. Oil palm more than doubles the CO2 fixation of forest per hectare p.a. If oil palm was not more productive and therefore more profitable than forest, why would anyone go for it? It is simply more efficient in mobilising atmospheric CO2. The trees last just about forever but up to 50 years before replanting becomes desirable in terms of yield. Would you not agree net rather than gross effects need to be taken into account when assessing land use change arising from so-called deforestation?
BTW, whatever happened to my attempted posting on your Quadrant thread?

hc said...

I have not interferred with any postings you have made on any subject.

On palm oil the contrary claim is that the claims you make are false and reflect Indonesian propaganda.

New trees will absorb more carbon that an established forest because new trees are growing. But accounting for the carbon released by burning a preexisting forest the loss of carbon absorbption by doing what you suggest is between 50-90%.

And that loss adds to the disasterous loss in biodiversity values in replacing an environmentally rich rainforest with a monoculture.

observa said...

There is no countervailing market power to destruction of natural environment and biodiversity and ETS just worsens the current malaise. That's an ugly fact the cap and trade amelioration fans are in complete denial over, but to point it out is heresy. You're immediately labelled an AGW denialist. We are going to need a lot more thought about the constitution of our marketplace than this flawed add-on that already shows all the ugly tell-tale signs of the next 'big thing' in derivatives trading.

Tim Curtin said...

HC I am bound to say I found your reply disappointing. Why do you believe the NGOs on all issues?

Here is Rhett Butler (from your link, which I already had):
"Why has oil palm become the world's number one fruit crop, trouncing its nearest competitor, the humble banana? The answer lies in the crop's unparalleled productivity. Simply put, oil palm is the most productive oil seed in the world. A single hectare of oil palm may yield 5,000 kilograms of crude oil, or nearly 6,000 liters of crude." Now where does that output come from. Could it be mostly from CO2 and water? oils are hydrocarbons, funny name that. Like all too many who fail to comprehend stocks and flows, the WWF et al authors of the attack on Indondesians that you have endorsed so sweepingly overlook that natural forest acts as a store of carbon, but one that grows rather slowly if at all over hundreds of years. Palm oil is a perennial. Got it?

I apologies re my other posting, it took about attempts to get past your gatekeper system with repeated reregistrations.

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