Act by 1 November 2006
On November 6th, governments from all over the world will be meeting in Nairobi for the year's most important United Nations climate change talks - the 2nd Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (COP/MOP 2) and the 12th Conference of Parties to the Climate Change Convention (COP 12). To date international policy discussions have largely ignored the destruction and burning of Southeast Asia's rainforest peatlands, which are drained to be cleared for agricultural plantations. As they dry, their peat filled soils are highly susceptible to long burning, carbon and methane rich fires.
Peatland fires are one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 15% of all global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. Hundreds of peat and forest fires are once again burning across Borneo, Sumatra and Java. Unless the international community acts quickly, Southeast Asia's emissions of carbon and methane from burning peatlands alone may lead to dangerous climate change including massive sea level rises and mass extinctions.
Expansion of oil palm plantations, illegal logging and timber plantations have been identified as the main drivers of the destruction. These are likely to accelerate as Indonesia and Malaysia are vastly expanding the area of land in oil palm plantations, partly to meet soaring demands for biofuels. The Kyoto Protocol not only fails to address the crisis, it is being implemented in a way which makes it even worse. Large amounts of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) carbon credits are going to the palm oil industry, to the biofuel industry which uses this palm oil, and into timber plantations. Meanwhile member states, particularly in Europe, are trying to meet some of their Kyoto commitments by burning Southeast Asian palm oil as bioenergy.
At the Nairobi Conference, governments must address the crisis in Southeast Asia's peatlands and forests as a top priority, and remaining untouched peatlands must be protected from drainage and fires.
Sign the letter at http://www.climateark.org/alerts/send.asp?id=indonesia_peatland, and add your voice to tell national Nairobi conference delegates to act now to save Southeast Asia's peatlands and rainforests, before it is too late not only for those precious ecosystems and the people who depend on them, but for the future of the global climate.