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A global commitment to halt the destruction of the world’s great forests signed by more than 100 world leaders this week has started to unravel, after Indonesia’s environment minister called it “inappropriate and unfair”.
The Asian country, which signed up to the agreement on Tuesday, is crucial to its success given it has one of the largest areas of rainforest in the world. But Siti Nurbaya Bakar, environment minister, said on Twitter that forcing Indonesia to reach zero deforestation by 2030 was unjust.
“”The massive development of [Indonesian] president [Joko Widodo]’s era must not stop in the name of carbon emissions or in the name of deforestation,” she said.
“If the concept is that there is no deforestation, it means that there should be no roads, then what about the people, should they be isolated?”
The minister said she rejected the use of deforestation terminology that was “not in accordance with existing conditions in Indonesia” and said her government preferred domestic goals.
The signatories, which include Australia, Colombia, Indonesia and the US, have committed to “working collectively to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030 while delivering sustainable development and promoting an inclusive rural transformation”.
Indonesia is the world’s biggest producer of palm oil, some of which comes from plantations built on former rainforest. The pace of deforestation in Indonesia had by 2020 fallen 70 per cent from its 2016 peak, according to Global Forest Watch data.
But the government’s ban on new palm oil concessions expired in September 2021 and has not yet been replaced.
Siti’s remarks underscore the potential gulf between countries signing headline agreements during the COP26 talks in Glasgow and the delivery of those promises.
Kiki Taufik, head of Greenpeace’s Indonesian forests campaign, said the statement was “disappointing.
Under the Glasgow deal, countries that are home to more than 85 per cent of the world’s forests have agreed to halt and even reverse forest loss by the end of the decade, bolstered by pledges from 30 financial institutions to eliminate their exposure to agricultural commodity-linked woodland destruction by 2025.