Letters: Floods and climate change

Letters: Floods and climate change

18 November 2009

published by www.thejakartapost.com

Indonesia– A report in the Post on Nov. 13, headlined “Jakarta, Manila facing climate threat” said that Jakarta is one of Asia’s major cities that are vulnerable to rising seas, storms and other climate change impacts.

The report also said that Jakarta was the major Asian city most under threat in terms of people and assets.

Yet a recent story in The Economist magazine points out that Indonesia is the leading emitter of carbon dioxide from degrading peat lands, more than three times higher than Russia, the second biggest source of degrading peat lands emissions.

The Economist stated “a recent report for the Indonesian Government by the consultancy McKinsey suggests that a combination of avoiding further deforestation of non-converted marshes, better water management, rewetting dried peat and fire control might reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from Indonesia’s peat lands by 900 million tons out of a total, including fire damage of 1.5 billion tons”.

Another approach to reducing emissions is to encourage use of marshland that do not desiccate the peat, for example, growing moisture-loving rubber trees rather than oil palms that need dry soil.

The threat of rising seas that would inundate large parts of Jakarta and other major coastal Indonesian cities, as well as more than 1,000 Indonesian islands predicted to disappear beneath the waves, is a reason for Indonesia to halt all further degradation of its peat lands and do all in its power to regenerate them.

Otherwise, it will be Indonesia itself that contributes to the devastation of its own cities, homes and the way of life for millions of its people.

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