RI sets up 'powerful' climate change council

After two months of delay, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has formed a "powerful" climate change council to speed up efforts to combat global warming, a government official said Monday.

The official, who declined to be named, said the council involved 16 Cabinet members, with State Minister for the Environment Rachmat Witoelar serving as its executive chairman.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla is not on the council, the official added.

Kalla earlier had said he was not aware of the government's plan to set up the council.

"Hopefully, the President will announce the new climate change council this week before he leaves for Japan on July 7 to attend a G8 meeting," the official told The Jakarta Post.

The plan to set up the council was a main topic after last year's gathering of 170 country delegations at the UN climate change conference in Bali.

The council was originally scheduled to be formed by the end of April 2008.

At the Bali conference, President Yudhoyono launched national action plans to cut emissions and sell credits based on the carbon stores of Indonesia's forests.

"The council will coordinate and monitor the implementation of the action plans to fight climate change and manage climate funds, including those from wealthy nations, to help Indonesia reduce greenhouse gas emissions," the official said.

The council's office will be at the Garuda Indonesia building on Jl. Selatan Merdeka, Central Jakarta.

Rachmat, who is now president of the Conference of Parties (COP) to climate change -- the highest post in the United Nations' climate change convention -- is expected to safeguard the much-hailed Bali roadmap in international negotiations.

Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Aburizal Bakrie and Coordinating Minister for the Economy Sri Mulyani will be vice chairpersons of the council.

Among the 16 Cabinet members on the council are State Secretary Hatta Radjasa, Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu, Energy and Natural Resources Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro, Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda, Agriculture Minister Anton Apriantono, Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Freddy Numberi and Transportation Minister Jusman Syafii Djamal.

According to the document, the council will comprise six working groups of governmental officials to deal with issues of adaptation, mitigation, technology transfer, finance, forestry and post-Kyoto aims.

Many countries, including Australia, Japan, the United States, Britain, Germany and Canada, have pledged to provide aid to Indonesia to help tackle global warming that has caused a rise in sea level, higher temperatures and unpredictable weather changes.

Australia recently signed an Indonesia-Australia Forest Carbon Partnership to stop deforestation in Indonesia.

Canberra had earlier promised AS$30 million to plant 100 million trees on Borneo Island. Last year, it also pledged a total of A$240 million to curb deforestation in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia.

The Indonesian Forestry Ministry is now under intensive negotiations with Germany, Britain, Japan, Spain and Norway to set up forest partnerships to carry out "reductions of emissions from deforestation and degradation" (REDD) projects.

REDD, adopted in Bali last year, was expected to be the binding mechanism to reduce carbon emissions.

A noted economist and author of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, Nicholas Stern, has urged rich nations to provide around US$10 billion per year to stop deforestation in forestry nations such as Indonesia.

Minister Rachmat has repeatedly reminded world leaders to stick to the Bali roadmap agreement which drafted action plans setting a 2009 deadline for a new treaty to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The roadmap calls for rich nations to take the lead in carbon emissions reductions.

Developed countries have in a series of formal and informal meetings tried to attract the emerging economic states, like India and China, to set emissions targets.


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