REDD – A Solution or Just Another Project?

REDD – A Solution or Just Another Project?

Opinion – December 12, 2007
(This is Full/Uncut Version of the Article which Appeared in The Jakarta Post)

by Anand Krishna, Jakarta


To Al Gore, Global Warming is definitely not a political, but a Moral Issue. To someone like Emil Salim, this need to be addressed seriously and intelligently….. But, alas, Al Gore is too far away from us, and unfortunately Emil Salim is just a thin voice in the wilderness.

It was therefore very comforting to read the recent editorial of The Jakarta Post under the title of “Climate Unawareness” (November 25th, 2007). The question is: Unawareness on whose part? Is it on the part of general public, people at large, or on the part of our officials and the so called representatives of people?

As pointed out in the above editorial, “Signs of popular awareness are visible…” People are at least becoming aware of the global warming, climate change and its impact. Sadly, it is our people on top there who are either not aware or acting naively for whatever reason.

The Jakarta Post Editorial very bravely and bluntly attacks those people on the top: “Our government knows full well where to point the blame, and in playing the game to its fullest it shamelessly blackmails rich countries into giving us the necessary funding to prevent further environmental degradation…..

“Officials no less than Vice President Kalla and Forestry Minister Malam Sambat Kaban have expressed such sentiments…..”

Antara News Agency adds another name, that of Environment Minister, who expects to succeed in negotiating 33.75 trillion rupiahs annually from the rich countries. That is about 33.75 million in US Currency.

Unto that Glorious Goal, the heavy burden of about 114 billion rupiahs to organize the conference in Bali is therefore “justified”. It does not matter if some of those involved in the conference are not even people with adequate credentials. They are either so called “negotiators” appointed by Government, “observers with no say” or “reporters”.

The Bali Conference being held now (December 2007), is actually about a project called REDD, some define it as “Reducing Emission of Deforestation and Degradation”, others more specifically define it as “Reducing Emission of Deforestation in Developing Countries”. It does not touch upon the subject of “Climate Change and Its Impact” holistically. It does not address the issue of Global Warming and how to respond to it intelligently. So, let us not expect much from this conference!

REDD, as pointed out by Jakarta Post is a Black Mail. In nutshell, it is: “Okay, fine, we stop deforestation, but then we lose money. So, you have to pay for our losses.”

Change the word “deforestation” to “selling our mothers”, “our sisters”, or “our daughters”: “Okay, we do not sell them, but then who takes care of the losses?” In other words, you must pay me for “not selling” my mother or sister or daughter.

What a shame, what a degradation of human character, what a devaluation of human values…. We have become a nation of sellers. We have sold all our assets, now we are selling our conscience.

Saving our trees, our environment, and our natural resources – is our responsibility. Must we get paid to do so? What happens when you plough your own field? Do you expect your neighbors to pay you for that? What a joke!

We do not get paid by our neighbors for cultivating our own fields. Yes, we do get paid by our neighbors for cultivating their fields. So, if we are getting paid to save our own trees and forests – then we must try to understand the mindset of our neighbors. Perhaps they already consider our trees and forests as theirs. We must understand that there are no free lunches. Our ministers, our officials, one and all must understand, and understand it well and correctly that the ransoms we get are not without strings attached. We have to “let go” of something against such ransoms. What is it that we are going to “let go”? What is it that we are going to give away, against such ransoms?

Another joke: People who have sinned against environment and are actively engaged in deforestation, in misusing our land and beaches to build their empires, their mega projects – are directly and indirectly protected by the state. At least one minister, whose immediate family has done much harm to environment, is still in the office, perhaps even taking an active part in Bali Conference on Climate Change.

The other day I was meeting with an ex high official who specializes in securing foreign funds and now is part of our delegation for the conference. Clearly, we are not interested to find solutions. Our sole intention is to secure funds.

I know I am taking a very high risk in writing this article, but Truth must be told. “Truth”, they say, “sets you free”. And, I bear witness to that saying. Truth has indeed set me free. This freedom I cherish, freedom to speak out the Truth.

The Truth is that, we as a nation are suffering from degradation of values. And, until and unless this degradation is stopped, the degradation of environment cannot be stopped. The ransoms we get from the so called rich countries will only fill the coffers of our corrupt officials.

I am amazed to see our officials with totally different political backgrounds, affiliations and agendas, coming together on this ransom issue, REDD. They are at complete harmony. Wonderful! If only they could be at complete harmony on other issues, issues beneficial to the nation, to the people of Indonesia.

Professor Salim, your voice is thin, but yours is The Voice. Do not stop voicing your thoughts and expressing your views. I have heard you, and I know many more shall be hearing you in days to come.

Global Warming and Climate Change must be responded in a very compassionate and humane way. It is a matter of Control over Senses. It is a matter of West and East, Rich and Poor, Developed and Developing, coming together, restraining themselves from over indulgence in sensory pleasures. Manhattans all over the world must learn to conserve energy.

But, above all, in the name of industrialization let not Chinas and Indias produce more than what is needed. So, no dumping, and no killing of local industries in countries like ours. It is indeed surprising to watch our ministries entering into one treaty and agreement after another with countries that have killed our industries. What is termed as fair play and global competition is definitely not fair and has nothing to do with competition. It is a clear act of homicide.

Coming back to Global Warming and Comate Change – can we do something about it? Yes, we can. Turn to Solar Energy which is available in plenty, turn to Wind Energy. And, there shall be privatization of this sector in the true sense. We shall have thousands of small and large generators. But then, of-course the sons and the daughters and the brothers and the in-laws of our dear, dear officials will not benefit from it.

While New York is trying to collect each and every drop of rain water to cool and heat their buildings; while Germany is turning to Wind Energy for their Farming – we are being led to Nuclear and Geo Thermal Sources. Why? Because, those giant projects require big investments. And, big investments mean large corporations. It is all business.

Think compassionately, and the solutions to Global Warming are right before your eyes. This Global Issue of Climate Change can be turned into a Chance to Unite. Our governments and politicians have their own agendas. Our diplomats are busy in negotiations. It is the people, you and I, who must bring about the change. And, we can do that, if only we unite…..