News / Asia

Indonesian Fires Reveal Unfulfilled Environmental Promises

Indonesian Fires Reveal Unfufilled Environmental Promisesi
X
July 01, 2013 11:43 PM
Singapore and Malaysia recently suffered through the worst air pollution crisis in 16 years, due mostly to slash-and-burn deforestation fires in Indonesia. The president of Indonesia has apologized and promised to investigate the cause, but as VOA’s Brian Padden reports, his public commitment to reduce pollution and protect the environment, at least in the short term, have not slowed the rate of deforestation.
Brian Padden
Singapore and Malaysia recently suffered through the worst air pollution crisis in 16 years, due mostly to slash-and-burn deforestation fires in Indonesia. The president of Indonesia has apologized and promised to investigate the cause, but  his public commitment to reduce pollution and protect the environment, at least in the short term, have not slowed the rate of deforestation.

It's an annual occurrence in the dry season: a smoky, hazardous haze blankets southern Malaysia and Singapore.  This year it was so bad that in some affected areas there was a 100 percent rise in the number of asthma cases. Hundreds of schools were closed, and the government of Malaysia distributed gas masks.

The source of the pollution lies across the Malacca Strait in Indonesia where illegal burning of forests to clear space for palm oil plantations continues unabated.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono offered a public apology.

"For what has happened, as president, I apologized and asked for the understanding of brothers in Singapore and Malaysia," he said.

The Indonesian president promised to prosecute anyone involved in illegal slash-and-burn activities. Eight Southeast Asian companies are reportedly under investigation.

But the ongoing deforestation seems to contradict past promises. In 2009, President Yudhoyono pledged to reduce by 26 percent greenhouse gas emissions, caused mostly by deforestation. And in 2011, he instituted a moratorium protecting designated forest areas. In exchange, environmentally conscious Norway pledged $1 billion to support these efforts.  

Ariana Alisjahbana at the World Resources Institute says local officials are not supporting the national plan.

“Actually it’s a lack of coordination and lack of enforcement. So when we look over all the different rules Indonesia has on the books, theoretically speaking they’re very, very good ones. But they’re just not enforced," said Alisjahbana.

Although the economic incentive to replace forests with farms hampers conservation, Alisjahbana says long-term progress is being made.   

“Only four percent of the fires, of the fire alerts, happened in protected areas. So I think one of the really good solutions is to actually, you know, designate the area as protected," she said.

But she says a greater commitment to stop the slash-and-burn deforestation through incentives and strict penalties for violations is needed.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid