JAKARTA - Cutting emissions from deforestation will be key to curbing climate change and should be agreed upon in December's climate talks in Bali, a leading Indonesian forestry researcher said on Monday.The conference on the resort island is expected to initiate talks on clinching a new deal by 2009 to fight global warming.
Under the Kyoto Protocol, developed nations can pay poor countries to cut emissions from activities such as the manufacture of refrigerants and fertilizers as well as capturing greenhouse gases from farm waste and rubbish dumps.
But greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation, nearly 20 percent of the world's total, are not yet eligible for trade because they were excluded from the Kyoto Protocol's first round, which runs out in 2012.
"It's huge because preserving and conserving the existing pool will then become very attractive," said Daniel Murdiyarso, senior scientist at the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR).
"Whether by means of a market mechanism or not, including deforestation in the new deal is something Indonesia and every developing country should push for."
Murdiyarso, who is often consulted by the government on forestry and climate change issues, said the next climate deal should increase emission cut targets to halt rising temperatures.
"The Kyoto Protocol only targets a 5 percent emission cut. To stabilize levels the cut has to be much more than 5 percent," Murdiyarso said by telephone from his office on the outskirts of Jakarta.
Participants from 189 countries are expected to gather in Bali for December's U.N.-led summit, which will hear a report on Reduced Emissions from Deforestation to decide the fate of a new scheme to make emission cuts from forest areas eligible for global carbon trading.
Murdiyarso said Indonesia's vast peatlands, which are a huge store of carbon, will play a key role in shaping post-Kyoto plans on reducing global warming.
With annual carbon dioxide emissions of over 1,500 million tones, preserving Indonesia's peatlands could bring in billions of dollars, Murdiyarso said.
Experts estimate Indonesia has 20 million hectares (50 million acres) of dense, black tropical peat swamps, formed when trees, roots and leaves rot, that are natural carbon stores.
However, when burnt or drained to plant crops such as palm oil, peat releases large amounts of carbon dioxide.
Indonesia is home to 60 percent of the world's threatened tropical peatlands and among the world's top three carbon emitters when peat emissions are added in, said a report sponsored by the World Bank and Britain's development arm.
"In Germany, the cost of reducing 50 million tones is 10 billion euro, that's 200 euro per ton. If we take the same number for peatlands, we can expect some 900 billion euro," said Murdiyarso, also a peatlands expert.
"I don't think anyone would buy it at such a high price, but it would still mean millions of dollars for Indonesia."
© Reuters 2007