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Let the rich pay the poor for not polluting

• President Yudhoyono

In the run up to the Bali meeting on environment, Indonesia is asking wealthy nations to consider setting up a fund to help developing countries stop cutting down their forests. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono made the plea on behalf of other tropical forested nations at a meeting to discuss ways to tackle global warming.

Developing countries, he said, should seek from $5 to $20 for every hectare of forest under a global framework on “avoided deforestation”, - term used to describe the prevention or reduction of future forest loss. The idea is that developing countries will attract funds from industrialised nations, at least those who have agreed to meet commitments under international agreements like the Kyoto Protocol, to pay them to prevent any further deforestation.

Rich countries may agree to Indonesia’s initiative - to ‘pay for not polluting’. However there are skeptics who doubt Jakarta’s little ability to stop the annual fires that spew millions of tons of carbon into the atmosphere from burning forests for palm oil and pulp wood plantations.

The annual war of words between Indonesia and the affluent neighbours - Malaysia and Singapore – over the haze from rampant forest fires – is unlikely to end soon. Indonesia, despite its relatively small economy, is the world’s third largest carbon dioxide emitter after the United States and China, according to a World Bank study.

The environmental group Greenpeace points out that Indonesia destroyed an area of forest the size of 300 soccer pitches every hour between 2000 and 2005, the fastest pace of deforestation in the world.



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