INDONESIA PASSES LAW ON PEATLANDS TO FIGHT CLIMATE CHANGE
Last week, Indonesia passed a ban preventing the conversion of peatlands into plantations, particularly palm oil plantations. Peat soils sequester huge amounts of carbon. When they are drained and burned, they release significant quantities of carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere. In Indonesia, the decomposition and burning of peatlands contribute to almost half of Indonesia’s total carbon emissions. Given that Indonesia is the world’s sixth larger emitter of greenhouse gases, the regulation to prohibit this practice and significantly reduce Indonesia’s total carbon emissions is particularly influential. The new regulations are seen by many as a big step forward both for Indonesia’s contributions under the Paris Agreement and for reducing the “toxic haze" from peat fires, which poses a public health concern for millions of Indonesians. However, several green groups are concerned the law does not go far enough, citing, among other concerns, that draining parts of peatlands will still negatively impact the protected lands. For the full story on Indonesia’s ban, see http://uk.reuters.com/article/us-indonesia-climate-peatlands-idUKKBN13V1Y1. For more information on the concerns of green groups, see https://news.mongabay.com/2016/12/green-groups-raise-red-flags-over-jokowis-widely-acclaimed-haze-law/.