Paper Tiger? Australia Hosts Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit

Press release - 10 November, 2014
On 12 November 2014, Environment Minister Greg Hunt will host an Asia Pacific Rainforest Summit in Sydney. Ministers from the region and from significant aid donor countries have been invited to ‘focus on practical actions to reduce forest loss.’ A number of corporations and NGO’s have also been invited to participate.

This Summit originated in Greg Hunt’s pre-election commitment to broker ‘a global deal to protect rainforests’ in order to protect the climate.  At the recent Ban ki Moon Climate Change Summit in New York, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said this Rainforest Summit formed part of the Australian Government’s ‘practical solutions approach’ to climate change.

Why global action to protect rainforests is needed

Action to protect rainforests is urgently needed, to protect forests and forest-dependent peoples, and to avert dangerous climate change. As much as 80 per cent of the world's forests have been degraded or destroyed.

•    Deforestation accounts for approximately 10 - 15% of global carbon emissions. It also destroys biodiversity:  The rainforests of the Indonesian archipelago, for example, house orang-utans, elephants, tigers, and the Sumatran rhinoceros that are endangered due to forest clearing.
•    Indonesia has the highest rate of deforestation in the world. In 2012 emissions from Indonesia’s peat lands alone were estimated to be more than double Australia’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions.

Paper and palm oil driving deforestation

The mass destruction of Indonesia's rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands for palm oil and paper is the main reason why Indonesia is one of the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases.

APRIL
Greenpeace and other NGO’s have exposed that Asia Pacific Resources International Ltd (APRIL), for example, is currently clearing deep peat lands in Sumatra, while local communities heavily oppose this, and has plans to clear another 100,000 ha in Kalimantan for its pulp and paper operations.

APRIL, part of the Sukanto Tanoto-owned RGE group is Indonesia’s second largest pulp and paper companies, with global distribution including to Australia.

The Abbott government: Paper tiger?

The Abbott government's record so far:
•    In the May Budget, the Abbott government appeared to cut all funds from Australian aid programs targeted at combating deforestation in our region.
•    At the recent New York Summit, the Australian government failed to sign the New York Declaration on Forests, a voluntary pledge by 32 governments (including Canada, the United States and Indonesia) and 40 companies to halt deforestation by 2030.

What the Australian government must do:
This summit will show whether the Australian government has a real concrete plan for the region, or is just a paper tiger. The test for the Australian Government is whether it commits to three concrete actions to tackle deforestation in our region:
1.    Commit significant finance for forest conservation and land tenure reform in our region. Funding for forest protection needs to come in addition to cuts in emissions from fossil fuels, not through “forest offsets.”
2.    Support Indonesian government efforts to enforce forest conservation and anti-corruption laws and enact and enforce legislative frameworks to effectively protect natural forests and peatlands.
3.    Develop policies that ensure “deforestation free products” for Australian consumers and help level the playing field for companies that have committed to eliminate deforestation and human rights abuses from their supply chain. This includes enforcing the Illegal Logging Act and adopting ‘deforestation-free’ procurement policies. 

What global action to protect rainforests looks like

What the Indonesian government should do:
Greenpeace is calling on the new Indonesian government under President Jokowi to:
1.    Strengthen forest governance and develop and enforce a legislative framework to protect High Carbon Stock forests and full protection of peatlands. Until such a framework is in place, Indonesia should:
2.    Extend and strengthen the moratorium to cover all forests and peatlands including those within existing concessions  
3.    Fast-track the development and publication of One Map

What the Australian government must do:
1.    Governments should immediately start enforcing forest conservation and anti-corruption laws while reshaping their legislative frameworks to effectively protect natural forests and peatlands.
2.    Governments need to secure and protect the rights and territories of indigenous peoples.
3.    Companies should immediately halt forest clearance and implement effective No Deforestation policies.
4.    Donor governments need to put their money where their mouth is and commit significant finance for forest conservation and land tenure reform. Funding for forest protection needs to come in addition to drastic cuts in emissions from fossil fuels.
5.    Governments need to cut financing for projects that contribute to deforestation and degradation, including industrial logging and the expansion of monoculture plantations in High Carbon Stock (HCS) forests.
6.    Finally, governments in consumer markets need to help cut the demand for products and commodities linked to deforestation. They should develop public policies and measures that ensure “deforestation free products” for consumers and help level the playing field for companies that have committed to eliminate deforestation and human rights abuses from their supply chain.

For more information, contact:
Australia
Jessica Panegyres, Forest Campaigner, Greenpeace Australia Pacific,
Mobile: 0424090396; Email:
Indonesia
Teguh Surya, Forest Political Campaigner, Greenpeace SEA Indonesia.
Mobile: +62 81915191979.  Phone; +62 21 521 2552 Email:

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