Indonesia questioned the terms of a Cop26 deal to end deforestation by 2030, days after joining more than 100 countries in signing it.
Countries agreed on a multibillion-dollar plan at the Glasgow climate conference this week to stop industrial-scale logging in less than a decade.
But Siti Nurbaya Bakar, the environment minister for the Southeast Asian archipelago, home to the world’s third largest rainforest, said on Wednesday that “forcing Indonesia to zero deforestation by 2030 is clearly inappropriate and unfair ”.
She said there are many ways to define deforestation and no deal can stop economic growth. “The massive development of President Jokowi’s era must not stop in the name of carbon emissions or in the name of deforestation,” she said, referring to Joko Widodo by her nickname.
“Indonesia’s natural wealth, including forests, must be managed for its use according to sustainable principles, in addition to being equitable,” she said.
Indonesian Deputy Foreign Minister Mahendra Siregar said describing the deal as a zero deforestation commitment was “false and misleading”.
In the declaration signed by Indonesia and more than 100 countries, the leaders pledged “to work collectively to stop and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030 while ensuring sustainable development and promoting a inclusive rural transformation ”.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the deal was essential to the overarching goal of limiting temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius in a bid to slow global warming.
A spokesperson for Johnson said he saw no contradiction in Indonesia’s statements.
“I understand what the Indonesian government has said is that it must be able to continue legal logging and farming to support its economic development,” the spokesperson said.
“That would be consistent with the commitment – what countries have committed to is to end net deforestation, ensuring that any lost forest is replaced in a sustainable manner. “
Kiki Taufik, a Greenpeace forestry activist in Indonesia, regretted that the environment minister had supported “large-scale developments that clearly have the potential to destroy the environment.” “If we don’t take immediate and substantial action to stop deforestation… we cannot meet our modest emission reduction targets,” he said.
Although its rate of deforestation has slowed markedly since 2015, Indonesia’s vast forests continue to shrink.
According to Global Forest Watch, Indonesia in 2001 had 93.8 million hectares (230 million acres) of primary forest – ancient forests that have largely not been disturbed by human activity – an area the size of Egypt. By 2020, this area had decreased by about 10%.