Missing the mark: Indonesia, a long way from emissions targets

Falmouth, Mass. – Former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono pledged to reduce Indonesia’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from deforestation by 26-41 percent by 2020 through a new land concession policy. A paper co-authored by Woods Hole Research Center Associate Scientist, Alessandro Baccini, entitled, “Reductions in emissions from deforestation from Indonesia’s moratorium on new oil palm, timber and logging concessions,” published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finds the moratorium is not enough to reach emissions targets.

The moratorium, according to Dr. Baccini and colleagues, simply does not go far enough as it only applies to new licenses which, between 2000 and 2010, only represented 15% of emissions. It was already licensed and unlicensed deforestation, which made up 85% of emissions during that same period. The team combined annual deforestation data, concession licenses and potential agricultural revenue to compare deforestation rates before and after the new concessions. According to the report, Indonesia can only achieve a 26% reduction if they expand the scope of the moratorium beyond new concessions (15% of emissions) to include existing concessions (21.1% of emissions), and the deforestation that occurs outside of concessions and protected areas (58.7% of emissions.)

Deforestation driven by agricultural expansion in the tropics represents up to 15% of global GHG emissions each year, and one-third of this number comes from Indonesia alone. Dr. Baccini and colleagues compare place-based policies such as conservation and price-based instruments such as carbon payments as two vehicles for shifting agricultural expansion away from forests. They suggest the best strategy to meet emissions targets would include both. But with the moratorium set to expire in May of 2015, it will be up to Indonesia’s new president Joko Widodo to re-commit to more substantial emissions reductions for Indonesia to meet its emissions goals.

Link to abstract »

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