Norway to pay 30 million dollars to save Indonesian forests

Norway agreed Thursday to advance 30 million dollars to Indonesia in the first installment of a planned billion-dollar scheme to cut the country’s greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation.

After two days of talks in Jakarta, Norwegian officials said they were satisfied that Indonesia was making progress towards its promise to impose a two-year moratorium on deforestation starting in January 2011.

“Indonesia… is taking a global leadership role on climate change. Norway is honoured to work with Indonesia in a partnership built on mutual trust and respect, and a long time friendship,” Norwegian Ambassador Eivind Homme said.

“Our shared commitment to transparency, accountability and predictable contributions in return for agreed deliverables breaks new ground in international climate change collaboration.”

He said the meetings in Jakarta had “brought us significantly forward” and he expected to be able to announce a “fully operational partnership” at a UN conference on climate change in Mexico in December.

Indonesia is one of the top emitters of climate-warming gases blamed for rising global temperatures, largely through deforestation due to illegal logging and clearing for palm oil plantations, experts say.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced the moratorium during a trip to Oslo in May.

But no one knows how it will work in a country where illegal logging is rampant and the government’s figures about deforestation rates are seen as wildly inaccurate.

Homme’s emphasis on the need for transparency and “agreed deliverables” echoed Norwegian Prime Minister Stoltenberg’s comments in May.

“If there is no reduced deforestation, we will not pay,” Homme said.

The verifiability of such initiatives is crucial to broader UN-backed efforts to link developed-world climate change funds to forest conservation in developing countries like Indonesia and Brazil.

Analysts say Indonesia has still not clarified which forests will be protected under the moratorium, which has been opposed by the powerful palm oil industry.

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