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CNN’s palm oil-driven deforestation report ‘absurd’, says Indonesia

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Indonesian Deputy Foreign Minister Mahendra Siregar said the report only provided a false narrative intended to undermine the competitiveness of palm oil. NURHAYATI/THE JAKARTA POST

CNN’s palm oil-driven deforestation report ‘absurd’, says Indonesia

The Indonesian government has criticised a CNN International special report that said the world’s demand for palm oil ignited a climate bomb not only in the country but also in the world.

In response to the report, published last month titled Borneo is Burning: How the world’s demand for palm oil is driving deforestation in Indonesia, Deputy Foreign Minister Mahendra Siregar claimed the reporting was not constructive and only provided a false narrative intended to undermine the competitiveness of palm oil.

“On the issue of deforestation, it seems absurd to claim that there is a global time bomb linked to burning forests in Borneo when there are fires raging as far apart as the Arctic, California, Australia and the Amazon – none of which are attributable to palm oil,” Mahendra said in a statement sent to the Jakarta Post.

“Of course, if we wish to address the issue in a more objective manner, we may say that the fires in Kalimantan [Borneo is a colonial term] are a contributing factor to CO2 emissions and the related need to prevent and manage forest fires.

“On this benchmark, the efforts being made by the Indonesian government and stakeholders should perhaps be commended globally.

“In the case of palm oil, it is important to meet the challenges in the vegetable oil sector in general. It is clear that the productivity of palm oil helps to conserve the global land bank needed to meet growing demand,” Mahendra said.

He said the narrative on palm oil from the media served to create acrimony at the expense of genuine efforts to address environmental challenges.

“That is not to say that palm oil cultivation does not present challenges, but the key is to ensure supplies of sustainable palm oil within the vegetable oil sector and to ensure that our efforts are holistically based on international agreements such as the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals 2030,” Mahendra said.

In the article, the authors quoted experts who said the annual infernos have ignited a climate bomb with disastrous consequences for the world in years to come and that “driving through the once pristine landscape of Indonesian Borneo, the devastation brought by palm oil plantations begins to hit home”.



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