Thursday 14 July 2008
Jakarta protests Yale University over green index
Adianto P. Simamora,
The government will lodge a formal protest against Yale University over its newly released environmental performance index (EPI) report, which ranked Indonesia among the world's least environmentally friendly countries.
The university's EPI report, published in Newsweek's July 7-14 edition, ranked Indonesia 102nd out of 149 countries, mainly because of widespread deforestation.
State Minister for the Environment Rachmat Witoelar said the data used in the report was out of date.
"The report is not fair. It is absurd because all the data is invalid. I will send my special staff to Yale to protest their researchers," he said.
Amanda Katili, the ministry's special expert on climate change, will leave for the United States on Monday.
"I will present Yale researchers with the new forestry data. This data is available at the Forestry Ministry website and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) website," Amanda told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.
"It is the researchers' own fault if they don't understand Bahasa Indonesia. They could have contacted us for the latest data before publishing the EPI ranking."
The report claimed 85 percent of Indonesia's carbon emissions came from deforestation.
"Where the two biggest carbon emitters, China and the United States, have coal plants and cars to blame, the No. 3 culprit -- Indonesia -- produces 85 percent of its carbon emissions from forest," the report in Newsweek said.
It said forests were almost wiped out on heavily populated Java, while Sumatra lost 35 percent of its forests and Kalimantan lost 19 percent in the 1990s. Deforestation is also threatening the Sumatran rhinoceros and orangutan with extinction.
"In the forestry component of Yale and Columbia's Environmental Performance Index, Indonesia comes in last with a score of zero," it said.
The 2008 EPI ranks 149 countries on 25 indicators, and tracks six established policy categories: environmental health, air pollution, water resources, biodiversity and habitat, productive natural resources and climate change.
Indonesia has 120 million hectares of rain forest.
The deforestation rate between 1987 and 1997 was 1.8 million hectares annually. From 1998 to 2000, it rose sharply to 2.8 million hectares per year because of severe forest fires, before falling back to 1.8 million hectares per year between 2000 and 2006.
Forestry watchdog Greenomics Indonesia also protested the report for putting Malaysia in 26th place.
"Indonesia's forests along the border with Malaysia in Kalimantan have long been the main source of timber for illegal loggers from Malaysia," Greenomics executive director Elfian Effendi told the Post.
He said the world's biggest importers of wood, including the United States, the European Union and Japan, bought most of their wood products from Malaysia and China.
"It is common knowledge wood in Malaysia and China comes from Indonesian forests. So why are these countries, which exploit our forests, considered more environmentally friendly?" he said.