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Australia boosts support for Indonesian forest scheme

by Staff Writers
Nusa Dua, Indonesia (AFP) Dec 9, 2010
Australia on Thursday doubled its funding for Indonesia's efforts to slash its greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation, and praised the country's "strong leadership" on climate change.

Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd announced an additional 45 million dollars (44 million US dollars) in funding for cooperation on reducing emissions from deforestation (REDD) and climate change adaptation.

"Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation -- which accounts for 18 percent of global emissions and more than 60 percent of Indonesia's total emissions in 2005 -- is critical to achieving a global outcome on climate change," Rudd said during a visit to Bali.

The funds include 30 million dollars to extend support for a REDD pilot project in Kalimantan and to develop a national carbon accounting system to verify emissions cuts from reduced deforestation, according to a press release.

Another 15 million dollars will go toward climate change adaption efforts and studying the likely impacts of warmer temperatures on the massive archipelago of 17,000 islands populated by 240 million people.

The additional funding takes Australia's total support for Indonesia's REDD efforts to 100 million dollars, despite concerns from environmental groups like Greenpeace that corrupt officials and companies will hijack the scheme.

Indonesia is widely seen as the world's third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide blamed for man-made global warming, largely through deforestation for pulp and palm oil plantations.

Forests have been a central theme of ongoing United Nations climate talks in Mexico, with negotiators trying to agree ways in which wealthy nations can help developing countries preserve their carbon-storing trees and peatlands.

Australia is one of the world's biggest exporters of coal, a greenhouse-gas producing fossil fuel, and is keen to promote REDD in Indonesia as a means of offsetting its carbon emissions.

Speaking at the UN climate talks in Cancun, Australian Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Minister Greg Combet said a national carbon accounting system was critical to providing credible evidence of emissions reductions.

"This will be a crucial part of our cooperation as it will enable Indonesia to monitor and measure the success of its efforts," he said in a statement.

"Our existing support for Indonesia's efforts positions Australia well to be a lead partner in the establishment of a new independent institution for forest measurement, reporting and verification in Indonesia."

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