THE only time that we seem to notice that there is something wrong with the
air we breathe is when the thick smoke from the forest fires in Indonesia cloud
our vision and choke our nostrils.
While we rightly chafe at the little that has been done to stamp out the haze,
we now stand accused of doing even less than our neighbour in controlling
man-made greenhouse gases.
Indonesia ranks 43th in the 2007 Climate Change Performance Index compiled by
the Berlin-based NGO Germanwatch, 12 places above us. Only Saudi Arabia prevents
us from propping up the table.
In the big picture of climate change, what we do or do not do about global
warming counts for little. This much is clear from the country’s status as a
Non-annex 1 nation under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change, and the dispensation from reducing emissions that it carries.
Even Sweden and Britain, who are doing the most to protect against deleterious
climate change, are not doing enough, according to the Germanwatch.
It will be the big polluters like the United States which is not party to the
Kyoto Protocol, or China which is exempted from cutting emissions, who will make
a difference in any global strategy to tackle global warming. But every little
bit counts in the global battle to stave off the threat of climate change.
The stewardship of Earth is the responsibility of every nation, big or small. As
the keeper of more than 30 million hectares of rainforest, the country is
morally obliged to protect one of the world’s major "carbon sinks".
While our carbon emissions are still significantly lower compared with the more
industrialised countries, there is no room for complacency since they have more
than doubled since 1990. The dubious distinction of doing the least against
climate change should serve as a wake-up call to put the lid on fossil-fuel
While there have been commendable initiatives such as the reduction in the use
of unleaded petrol, the promotion of biodiesel and advances in energy
efficiency, there is a need for improved compliance with industrial and
vehicular emission regulations.
There is also a need to sort out the issues of jurisdiction and the problems of
inter-agency co-ordination in the management of the environment and natural
resources. It is imperative to take into account the possible adverse effects of
infrastructure development on the vitality of the ecosystem. Environmental
protection is integral to sustainable development.