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Climate crisis as south-east Asia's peatlands burn - please help!

Almuth Ernsting | 17.10.2006 17:53 | Ecology

An urgent action alert on tries to raise awareness of the huge climte change emissions from the destruction of south-east Asia's peatlands and rainforests. Much of the destruction is linked to the international trade in palm oil, timber and paper, with biofuels from palm oil emerging as a new major threat.

Right now, hundreds of fires are burning across Borneo and Sumatra. People as far as Singapore are suffering respiratory problems from the toxic haze. Annual fires in Indonesia are releasing about one billion tonnes of carbon, which is the equivalent of around 15% of all emissions from burning fossil fuels. That's about 1 billion tonnes every year - compared to the 188 million tonnes which the Kyoto Protocol aims to save annually in total, compared to 1990 levels. This year, it could be even worse. Over time, more than 50 billion tonnes of carbon are likely to go up in smoke, quite possibly enough to trigger the irreversible meltdown of Greenland and perhaps West Antarctica.

This is not a natural disaster: Recent years have seen a massive expansion of logging, of acacia plantations for timber and paper pulp and, above all, oil palm plantations. Plantation owners routinely set fire to cleare the land, and they also force local communities further into the remaining peatlands and rainforests. This crisis is very much the result of international trade in timber, paper and palm oil. It is getting worse as the Europe and other regions are beginning to burn palm oil as biodiesel and also as biomass in power stations.

Apart from contributing massively to climate change, the expansion of oil palm plantation is also linked to the eviction of local communities and, reportedly, to serious human rights abuses.

Please spare two minutes to take part in the urgent international email alert, found on . Emails must be sent before 4th November.

Readers might also like to support another email alert, which you can find on : Please help us protest against plans by Npower/RWE who are thinking about benefiting from the Renewables Obligation by burning palm oil in power stations.

Almuth Ernsting
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