TEDx from Indonesia: Forest carbon and corruption

Tropical deforestation and forest degradation are major contributors to carbon emissions, and therefore to climate change. On the other hand, there has been progress toward an international framework for reducing these emissions (REDD+).

So where do things stand?

After watching an extraordinary TEDx talk by Dharsono Hartono — embedded below — I looked at a few of the complexities and opportunities, with respect to Indonesia:

  • “Land use [in Indonesia] — including deforestation, drainage and degradation of peatlands, and logging — accounts for more than 70 percent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, yet logging and plantation industries generate less than 5 percent of GDP” (Mongabay).
  • A 2010 letter of intent between Norway and Indonesia commits US$1 billion to help Indonesia achieve its forest-related emissions goals (pdf).
  • Earlier this month, the Indonesian government extended a moratorium on new logging and plantation concessions in 65 million hectares of forests and peatlands (Mongabay).
  • Illegal logging and corruption have plagued the forestry sector (Jakarta Post and CIFOR).
  • On the monitoring side, even state-of-the-art, satellite-based analyses offer widely differing estimates of forest carbon emissions. From a June 2012 Science perspective (“Carbon from Tropical Deforestation” sub. req.) by Daniel Zarin of the Climate and Land Use Alliance, commenting on two recent global estimates: “Harris et al. obtain a comparatively low gross emission estimate of 0.81 Pg C year−1 for the period between 2000 and 2005; the equivalent value from Baccini et al.’s analysis is 2.22 Pg C year−1. Neither estimate includes globally significant emissions associated with the loss of carbon-dense tropical peatlands, mostly from Indonesia, where such losses are responsible for roughly half of all greenhouse gas emissions.”

Calmly undaunted, Dharsono Hartono, formerly of PricewaterhouseCoopers and JP Morgan, has been working since May 2008 to develop a REDD+ forest carbon project in the peatlands of Central Kalimantan.

His TEDxJakSel talk, “Business Without Bribery,” was filmed in November 2012.

See also: Mongabay interview with Dharsono Hartono.

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