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Indonesia Now World’S No. 4 Co2 Emitter, Says Report

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Indonesia is now the world’s fourth largest emitter of carbon dioxide (CO2), surpassing Russia, global research organisation World Resources Institute (WRI) reported.

This comes a week after a report said Indonesian forest fires over the past two months have produced more greenhouse gases than the average daily emission from the entire American economy.

WRI said emissions from this year’s fires have reached 1.62 billion metric tonnes (Mt) of CO2 – bumping Indonesia from the sixth-largest emitter in the world up to No. 4 in just six weeks.

The analysis by Dutch expert, Guido van der Werf, with the Global Fire Emissions Database also revealed that emissions from Indonesia’s fires alone are approaching the total annual emissions of Brazil.

According to the report, Indonesia’s current total emissions hover around 760 Mt CO2 (excluding land-use change), meaning the fires alone have tripled Indonesia’s entire annual emissions.

The WRI report also said Global Forest Watch Fires has detected more than 127,000 fires across Indonesia this year, the worst since 1997.

The fires, it said, were mainly from clearing of peatlands to make way for plantations of commodities, such as palm oil.

Peat, it added, stored some of the highest quantities of carbon on Earth and also emitted methane, resulting in up to 200 times more damage to the global climate than regular fires.

The report said while there was relief soon with the monsoon rains interrupting months of record-breaking fires and toxic smoke in South Sumatra and Kalimantan, the damage to human health, the economy and the global climate has already been done.

Smoke from this year’s fires caused more than 500,000 cases of respiratory illnesses in Southeast Asia and resulted in the deaths of at least 19 Indonesians, the report added.

And many more will die from the longer-term impact of breathing the foul air for weeks on end.

Experts from WRI and Global Forest Watch Fires have suggested three ways for Indonesia to respond to the crisis and reduce the risks of future fires:

* Adopting responsible financial incentives to commodity growers, so as to encourage more sustainable production of forest-based commodities;

* Focusing technical and mapping support on systems that harmonise land use management and reduce land conflicts; and,

* Streamlining the murky world of concession licences through innovative technologies that improve transparency and combat corruption in land use decision-making.

Smoke from land-clearing in Sumatra and Kalimantan has enveloped many parts of Singapore and Malaysia, and forced the closure of schools and airports.

Indonesian researchers recently said the smoke was expected to last until January 2016 as the scale of land-clearing was larger than before, coupled with dry weather. – October 30, 2015.   

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