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Who knew? The fourth largest nation has threatened to pull out of the Paris Agreement

Borneo forest destroy for biofuel crop

In Borneo, the Dypterocarp forest, one of the species-richest in the world (F), is being replaced by oil palm plantations (G). These changes are irreversible for all practical purposes (H).

Under the radar: In a trade dispute with the EU, about six weeks ago, Indonesia threatened to leave the Paris Agreement. Just like that. —

Where was the ABC News? Showing orangutan rescues…

Two hundred and seventy million people live in Indonesia. It’s the fourth largest population in the world – only 20% fewer than the USA. It’s also the second largest coal exporter in the world, and perversely, one of only 16 countries that are even trying to meet their Paris commitment.

Here’s the situation: Indonesia has been razing forests to make palm oil to sell to the EU for biofuel to make nice weather. Skeptics and Greenpeace pointed out the hypocrisy of destroying rainforests in pursuit of a better environment (way back, circa 2010).  Finally, in 2019 the EU commission changed its palm oil policy and declared that it should not be OK for biofuel anymore. The EU parliament is considering whether to make that law.

But Indonesia is the world’s biggest palm oil producer and around 16 – 20 million people rely on the sector, so the government sent a sharp message back to Europe:

 As the European Union proceeds with a plan to ban crude palm oil (CPO) from use in raw bio-fuel materials, the government of Indonesia is threatening to back out of the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan referenced the United States and Brazil’s withdrawal from the accord saying, “if the United States and Brazil can exit from the climate deal, we will consider it as well, because it is linked with the interests of the Indonesian people.”

— March 28th, 2019. Indonesia threatens to withdraw from Paris Agreement, Telesur.

Not only are Indonesian negotiators aware that the US and Brazil are out, they also noticed that there was no downside:

“The U.S. was not sanctioned at all by the EU (after leaving the Paris accord),” said Peter Gontha, special staff at Indonesia’s foreign ministry.

He also said Indonesia faced EU pressure over palm oil despite the government declaring a moratorium on permits for new estates.

Indonesia claims palm is being discriminated against by the EU to protect the market of European oils such as sunflower and rapeseed oils. — March 27th, Reuters

Where’s the news?

Imagine an Australian politician negotiating like that? Or even the ABC mentioning it? It’s not like Australians would want to know how fragile this sacred agreement isn’t — how some countries are peeling away — or how other nations have leaders brave enough to talk back to the EU.

It’s not like Indonesia is a major competitor and trading partner, which is ten times our size and closer to Perth than Sydney. Shh!

Google “ABC News indonesia palm oil” — Find an Orangutang. Seriously,  ABC News has turned into a lifestyle magazine. Rejoice! Indonesian rescuers managed to save a mother orangutan.” “Zoos Victoria has announced it’s going to stop selling products that sell palm oil.” Add “Paris” and keep searching. Eventually I found a relevant story from Canada News on youtube.

Once upon a time we had “Foreign Affairs” now we have animal rescue.

What a deal

To cap off the unintended consequences of biofuel —  during 2015 massive fires rolled through land owned by 11 Indonesian Palm Oil and Paper Pulp corporations. This released some 1.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide. (About twice Australia’s annual emissions). The fires were so big the Indonesian government fined them a billion dollars, which they still haven’t paid.

So The EU can keep Indonesia in the Paris deal by paying them for products that destroy forests and risk fires, or it can keep Greenpeace happy and risk losing yet another major player. Dilemma, dilemma.

One more nation jumps and it might start a trend…

h/t Pat who notes that Xinhau noticed the Indonesian play.

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