Pages tagged "fires"

EPA Announces Rules to Limit Carbon Pollution: RAN Responds

This morning, Gina McCarthy, head of the EPA, announced new carbon pollution standards for power plants, the centerpiece of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

We welcome the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to limit carbon pollution from power plants.

Power plants are the single largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. Setting the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution is an essential and long overdue step to address global warming.

Communities across the nation are already seeing and feeling the impacts of global warming, from increased health risks like asthma attacks and lung disease, to devastating extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy and wildfires across the American West. The science is clear: inaction will only increase these deadly and costly threats.

Coal FumesThis is exactly why communities from Chicago to North Carolina, from New England to New Mexico, are fighting to shut down the polluting power plants in their neighborhoods.

To be clear, the proposed carbon pollution standard is just one step. To keep our climate stable, we must rapidly shift our energy production away from the highest-polluting fossil fuels and accelerate our transition to truly clean, renewable energy generation.

The proposed rule is not yet enough to slow global warming and not yet enough to inspire the world to make the necessary deep cuts in climate pollution. That is why we will be working hard the next year to include much deeper cuts in the final rule.

We stand with the majority of Americans who want to see strong action from the government to address global warming and set limits on carbon pollution from power plants.

RAN fights climate change by taking fast, impactful action against dirty energy. Join us by becoming a Dirty Energy Rapid Responder!

Tripa: Social Media Week of Action

RAN’s work around the fires in Tripa has come to a fever pitch this week! For months, we have been highlighting how corporate giants such as Cargill have been abusing their power in the palm oil industry -- and now it’s up to the Indonesian government to order an immediate halt to all Tripa rainforest destruction. This week, Rainforest Action Network launched a social media campaign to put even more of a public face on what’s at stake: namely, continued rainforest destruction and species endangerment. What’s particularly striking is that there have been at least 86 more major fires since an investigation was launched months ago. So, with the help of some of our allies, and thousands of people all over the world participating, RAN was able to shed some more light on how deforestation for palm oil touches our daily lives. On Tuesday, we depicted the stark reality of the precious, critically endangered Sumatran orangutan -- at risk of becoming completely extinct unless action is taken: On Wednesday, we shared an image of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono calling for the “fundamental reorganization and reinvention of societies throughout the world” -- while 86 illegal fire hotspots in Tripa were documented. The Indonesian government has a paramount role in helping to control the raging fires in Tripa. And on Thursday, we tied it all together to show our individual role in contributing to this tragedy. With over half of all goods in the grocery store containing palm oil, the ability to control destruction is closer than we think: To demand that Indonesian President SBY order an immediate halt to all Tripa rainforest destruction, please sign our petition at:

RAN Delivers Nearly 20,000 Petitions to Cargill HQ

The major tragedy that is still unfolding in Indonesia’s Tripa rainforest continues to threaten the survival of critically endangered Sumatran orangutans. As over 92 fires smolder, palm oil companies like Cargill are racing to deny the role they've played in the destruction and devastation of the Tripa forest. We've gathered thousands of petitions to Cargill CEO Greg Page throughout the past couple of months, calling on him to take action now and adopt critical supply chain safeguards that would prevent Cargill from profiting off the destruction of tragedies like the one under way in Tripa. Today a group of local Twin Cities residents and I delivered nearly 20,000 petitions to Cargill’s doorstep on behalf of orangutan and human rights advocates around the world who want Cargill to adopt safeguards on its palm oil supply chain.Petition Delivery to Cargill Based on the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species, the population count for Sumatran orangutans is 7,300, however, evidence shows that the population has been severely impacted by the recent fires in Tripa. Sadly, this means that for every 3 people that signed our petition to Cargill, only 1 Sumatran Orangutan remained in the wild before the fires. Please watch this short video message to Cargill and share it with your friends: [youtube ZaCXYAfJwYo 500] Music: Passacaglia by Bear McCreary Tripa is one of the most important tropical rainforests remaining in the world today as it houses the densest remaining population of critically endangered Sumatran orangutans and many unique forest dependent communities depending on it for survival. Our allies on the ground have informed us that as of May 9th only two fire hot spots remain. In the past few weeks, the Coalition to Save Tripa has been gathering evidence on the fires, including forest cover changes, peat depths and satellite images. The National Police of Indonesia have also conducted a field investigation and the evidence they collected is being analyzed in Jakarta right now. According to high level officials, law enforcers have already concluded that there have been legal violations; the big question now is whether the companies responsible will be held accountable. We need to maintain an international spotlight on Tripa while this legal battle unfolds to ensure that justice is brought to the species, communities and forest at stake. The last International Day of Action to Save Tripa was a huge success; on April 26 actions took place in seven countries around the world, calling on Indonesian President SBY to publicly support enforcing Indonesian laws. Stay tuned for the next International Day of Action.

Tragedy in Tripa: Cargill Can Make a Difference

[caption id="attachment_18670" align="alignleft" width="337" caption="Photo by Carlos Quiles"]Fire in Tripa[/caption] Last week hundreds of fires blazed through the Tripa peat forest of Indonesia, threatening the survival of one of the largest remaining populations of wild Sumatran orangutans in the world. These fires rapidly got out of control after they were intentionally started by profit-hungry palm oil companies in order to clear rainforest for palm oil plantation expansion.
For those of you following the case, thanks for taking action by asking President Yudhoyono of Indonesia to enforce the law and save this precious peatland. Your pressure is working. We are asking for your help again by pressuring the companies profiting from the fires in Tripa. Trade data held by Rainforest Action Network shows that Cargill shipped at least 4,000 tons of crude palm oil produced by Astra Agro Lestari from the island of Sumatra in 2009. Astra Agro Lestari produced and exported palm oil from Tripa until 2010, when it sold its Tripa plantation to another agribusiness based in Jakarta.  It is highly likely that at least some of this 4,000 tons was from Tripa, making a direct link between the destruction Tripa and the US consumer impossible to ignore. Cargill Inc., operates its own palm oil plantations in Sumatra and Borneo and trades palm oil produced by at least fifteen Indonesian palm oil producers. Cargill’s relationships with Astra Agro Lestari, or other plantation companies with operations in Tripa, highlights the lack of safeguards on the quarter of the world’s palm oil the company trades. Trade data also shows that Astra Agro Lestari also sells millions of dollars of palm oil a year to industry giants Wilmar and Sinar Mas, three suppliers who provide palm oil to Cargill, and  demonstrating that customers around the world have purchased Tripa's palm oil and are helping to drive the destruction associated with it. Demand that Cargill, Inc. — trader of 25% of the world's palm oil supply — immediately stop trading palm oil with companies profiting from the destruction of Tripa peat forest. Here are the facts:
  • Nearly 50% of all household goods contain palm oil
  • Cargill trades 25% of the world's palm oil supply
  • Cargill has no safeguards to protect consumers like you from purchasing palm oil from companies that are destroying rainforests, Indigenous cultures, and Sumatran orangutan, tiger and sun bear populations
It is past time for Cargill to adopt safeguards on the palm oil it trades without outsourcing its values to RSPO membership to guarantee that it is not profiting from situations like Tripa across Indonesia and Malaysia. Push Cargill to adopt supply chain safeguards so that it can guarantee that the palm oil it supplies does not ever cause a catastrophe like the Tripa fires.

Update: Indonesian Court Fails to Protect Critical Orangutan Stronghold

[caption id="attachment_18646" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Photo by Carlos Quiles"]Tripa Peat Forest ablaze[/caption]
It's a sad day today for the few remaining, critically endangered orangutans of Sumatra. In a much anticipated court ruling in the high-stakes case filed against palm oil plantation company PT Kallista Alam and the governor of the Province of Aceh for illegally draining and clearing the internationally renowned Tripa Peat Forest, the judges have decided to throw out the case all together. After five months of arguments and deliberations, the three-judge court washed its hands of the case and declared that Environmental group WALHI should have sought mediation with the palm oil company first, before filing the case. This decision comes as a huge disappointment to environmentalists and orangutan lovers around the world. The rapid and ongoing deforestation of Tripa swamp, which reached a new peak last week when the forest was intentionally set ablaze, causing hundreds of fires, is an urgent and international issue. This vital ecosystem not only provides home to many endangered animals, but also helps to regulate our global climate — meaning this court decision will affect life all over the world. By throwing out the case, the Aceh court has failed to protect the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan and to fulfill its obligation to uphold Indonesia's laws. It's unclear why the court didn't request mediation between WALHI and PT Kallista Alam earlier. "The longer we wait, the worse the situation is getting in Tripa," a lawyer for the complainants told the press after the hearing. According to the press release from the Coalition to Save Tripa Peat Forest: "While the court case has dragged on in Banda Aceh, the peat forests of Tripa have continued to suffer widespread damage. An illegally dug canal in the contested concession continues to drain the swamp of its water increasing the fire danger in the protected area. Over the last weeks this has escalated with huge man made fires tearing through Tripa for 9 days, making headlines worldwide, with experts warning the local orangutan population could become extinct before the end of the year." [caption id="attachment_18648" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Photo by Carlos Quiles"]Canals dug to drain peat[/caption] There are many layers of Indonesian laws that protect Tripa since it is part of the world renowned Leuser Ecosystem, comprised of deep peat (which is illegal to clear) and home to critically endangered animal species — not to mention the 2007 Moratorium on Logging and 2008 National Spatial plan which prohibit deforestation of this forest. WALHI is planning to appeal this court decision. Berry Nahdian Forqan, National Director of WALHI, says: "All our efforts to save our environment will never succeed as long as the Government fails to ensure that all the various state and law enforcement agencies demonstrate a strong commitment to enforcement of environmental laws, and prioritize our environment and the ordinary citizens of this country over vested business interests." After thousands of you signed the petition calling for the law to be enforced and this peatland to be saved, the chairman of the REDD+ Taskforce, Presidential Advisor Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, sent a team of lawyers to Tripa to investigate. They are now on the ground and collecting evidence. Community groups have also filed for a local police investigation. Please continue to call on President Yudhoyono to bring justice to Tripa. Meanwhile, PT Kallista Alam shows no intention of stopping the crisis in Tripa. PT Kallista Alam's legal team "stated satisfaction over the court ruling." If the judicial system in Aceh Province fails to uphold the law, who has the power to stop this tragedy? The expansion, clearing, and burning must stop. Tripa needs real protection and President Yudhoyono needs to stand by his commitment to protect the environment. And it's time for the companies supplying palm oil from Tripa to take action to stop their role in this tragedy.

A 48 Hour Twitter Jam to Save Tripa

[caption id="attachment_18607" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Photo by Carlos Quiles"]Tripa burning[/caption] This blog comes from our friends at End of the Icons. In an amazing global response to the tragedy in Tripa, thousands of people all around the world have emailed the President of Indonesia and key stakeholders calling for the law to be enforced and this precious peatland to be saved. We are happy to tell you it is already working. We are making a difference. After thousands of you signed the petition, the chairman of the REDD+ Taskforce, Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, sent a team of lawyers to Tripa. They are on the ground collecting evidence right now. Your voice is effective. Now, we need your help to launch the next phase of the campaign to save Tripa and its inhabitants: a 48-hour Twitter jam. Tweet to the influential people who can help us in this case. The law is on our side, momentum is on our side, now we just need to make certain the court is on our side, and the criminals get punished for destroying Tripa! Use hashtag #savetripa in your tweets to help make it a trending topic. Here are some tweets you can post: • Foreign Minister Martyn is active on twitter, so we know he is one person who will get the message loud and clear — the whole world wants justice for Tripa.
Dear Minister @martynatalegawa the world is watching how Indonesia enforces the law in Tripa! #savetripa
• The Indonesian President has received thousands of emails, let's keep his attention focused!
Dear president @soesilobambang we want to see JUSTICE in Tripa. This is our demand #savetripa
• The Minister of Forestry is responsible for deciding what forests get to live and what forests get cut down.
Dear Ministry of Forestry @zul_hasan you have to make sure JUSTICE is served in Tripa #savetripa"
• The Minister of Agriculture should be investigating palm oil companies operating illegally all over Indonesia.
Dear Minister @suswono palm oil company PT Kalista Alam is breaking the law in Tripa #savetripa"
• The Ministry of Justice and Human Rights has to make sure justice is served in court on April 3rd (more on that below).
Dear @KEMENKUMHAM the world demands JUSTICE to be served in Tripa #savetripa "
• Originally the area of Forest that PT Kallista Alam is destroying was part of a multi-billion dollar forest protection deal between Norway and Indonesia. The people of Norway must be outraged that their money is going up in smoke!
Dear @Kronprinsparet Norwegian taxpayer money is going up in smoke because of corrupt Indonesian officials #savetripa
• World Bank funds are used both for protection and destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem, the wider area in which Tripa lies. We're asking them to investigate.
@WorldBank money is used to fund the destruction of protected #orangutan habitat in Indonesia #savetripa
• The United Nations' Great Ape Survival Partnership (GRASP) lists Tripa as a priority site for orangutan protection. We're asking UNEP GRASP, UNEP and UNESCO to investigate.
Dear @graspunep Tripa is a priority site for the protection of Orangutans #savetripa Dear @UNEP Tripa is a priority site for the protection of Orangutans #savetripa Dear @UNESCO Tripa is a priority site for the protection of Orangutans #savetripa
Burning protected forests and peatlands is against multiple Indonesian laws, and we will continue to watch this investigation very closely. In less than 48 hours, the court of Aceh will be announcing the judge's verdict in the case against the major culprits in burning forests in Tripa, the PT Kallista Alam oil palm company and former governor Irwandi Yusuf. Allowing palm oil permits within the Tripa Peat Swamp Forest is against the law, as it is an integral part of the Leuser Ecosystem, home to rhinos, elephants, clouded leopards, tigers and of course, orangutans. Tripa is protected by the National Spatial Plan established by government regulation 26/2008 under the National Spatial Planning Law number 26/2007. "This is really a test case," said Chik Rini, a World Wildlife Fund campaigner, noting that while it's not uncommon for timber, pulp, paper and palm oil companies to raze trees in protected areas, few developments have occurred in Tripa, an area that seems so obviously off limits. "If they get away with it here, well, then no forests are safe." Find Reports, Photos, Film, Media and more on our website: The Independent wrote one of the most complete and accurate media stories to come out so far: Up in smoke: ecological catastrophe in the Sumatran swamps. ~~ Happy tweeting everyone! Please share this widely! – ~~ Never underestimate the power of your friends! ~~

Raging Fires in Indonesia Displacing Communities and Pushing Orangutans to Edge of Extinction

A global tragedy is unfolding in Indonesia this week as fires rage through Tripa Swamp, displacing local communities and threatening hundreds of critically endangered Sumatran orangutans. These fires, initially set by palm oil companies to clear land for more plantations, are pushing this population of orangutans to the edge of extinction. Conservation experts say the extinction of the orangutan population of Tripa is no longer years away, but only a matter of months, even weeks. [caption id="attachment_18530" align="alignnone" width="550" caption="Photo by Carlos Quiles/March 27, 2012"][/caption] Tripa Swamp is a forest of special value. It is home to one of the largest remaining population of wild orangutans, is rich in biodiversity, and has provided livelihoods to Indonesian forest communities for generations. Help save Tripa and the wildlife and people who live there: Demand that the president of Indonesia uphold the nation's forest protection laws and order the palm oil companies to cease land clearing and burning in the Tripa forest. Tripa swamp is comprised of deep peat — more than 20 feet deep in some parts. Peatlands contain decades of decaying material that, when submerged in water, becomes habitat for many species and stores huge amounts of carbon, which plays an important role in regulating our global climate. As peat swamps are drained of water, the decaying vegetation releases massive amounts of carbon and the drying, decaying vegetation turns the rainforest into a matchbox. For this reason and others, Tripa peat swamp, part of the Leuser Ecosystem, is widely considered to be of significant conservation value and was designated in 2008 as a National Strategic area for environmental protection under the National Spatial plan.

In 2007 Governor Yusuf of Aceh signed a province-wide moratorium on forest logging, another law to provide protection to the Tripa rainforest. Yusuf eventually was named the “green governor” for this action he took to protect the forest. But despite these legal protections and his “green” reputation, Governor Yusuf issued a permit in August 2011 to PT Kallista Alam to allow 1,605 hectares of deep peat in the Tripa forest to be converted into a palm oil plantation. None of the forest communities were consulted for this permit, denying them their rights to control their traditional lands and forcing them to face air and water pollution and loss of their forest livelihoods. In November of 2011 a coalition of NGO’s filed a legal case against the Governor and PT Kallista Alam for the illegal expansion into Tripa forest. Once this case was filed and palm oil companies learned community groups were trying to stop their expansion, they rushed to burn and clear more forest, resulting in the massive fires ablaze today. [caption id="attachment_18531" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Photo by Carlos Quiles/March 11, 2012"][/caption] Since the case was filed there have been numerous hearings and the world is awaiting the court decision to be released next week. If the judges rule in favor of the Governor and PT Kallista Alam — allowing the permit to remain — the future of this global biodiversity hotspot will be at great risk. The international community cannot just stand by watching this beautiful forest ecosystem get destroyed. We need your URGENT help. Please take action by telling President Yudhoyono of Indonesia to order palm oil companies to cease the burning of the Tripa forest immediately and save Sumatran orangutans. For more information about Tripa and this global tragedy, please see End of the Icons. Images by Carlos Quiles.

Sumatra Burns, Climate talks simmer

In a twist of fate, Jakarta's Tempo is reporting that Arif Mundar, one of Indonesia's climate negotiators, could not make it to the international climate summit in Bangkok because of heavy smoke in Sumatra. Too many forest fires to even participate in climate talks? It is not looking promising for those in Bangkok that want to use the current momentum behind climate negotiations to curtail deforestation and deforestation's associated carbon emmissions. The dreaded climate fluxuation El Nino has officially descended upon Indonesia this year. Memories of the 1997 El Nino fire season remain fresh in Indonesian's minds as a disaster for their forests, the global climate, and Indonesia's national pride. Some see this year's already horrible fires in South Sumatra as a sign of climate change itself.  Widely cited projections for Indonesia done by the WWF show that Sumatra will have much more intense dry seasons under future climate scenarios, leading to greater intensity and  extent of forest fires. South Sumatra, ground zero for Indonesia's pulp-and-paper and timber operations, run by industry giants Sinar Mas and Raja Garuda Mas (now officially pontificated as 'Royal Golden Eagle'), has been struggling with widespread fires the past few months. Many experts point to changes in land use - associated with the logging and palm oil industries - that increase forest landscapes propensity to burn as a key factor in these fires. In the Sumatran province of Riau alone, 1.6 million hectares of peat and forests are expected to burn this year. These kinds of massive fires are what place Indonesia as the world's third largest contributor to climate change. Peat lands are the world's most carbon rich organic material,  when they burn the climate suffers. Conservationists on the ground say that many of the 2,500 fires spotted this year by NASA have been set illegally by oil palm and pulp and paper companies. This is deforestation in its most damaging form, bad for ecosystems, forest peoples, and the climate. The smoke is so thick, and visibility so curtailed, that the Jambi and Riau airports have been repeatedly shut down this year. [caption id="attachment_4189" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="South Sumatra Forest Fires in 2009"]South Sumatra Forest Fires in 2009[/caption] RAN's own Margaret Swink is at the Bangkok meetings, and artfully shows just how high the stakes are for Sumatra's forests leading up to a post-Kyoto climate treaty in 2012. As climate change makes South Sumatra region even drier during the dry season, and multinational industrial agribusiness makes forests more likely to burn, the negotiators at Bangkok can not even come up with an acceptable definition of 'forest'.  Yikes. David Gilbert is a RAN research fellow. He has lived and worked in the rainforests of the Amazon and Indonesia. David has a special interest in how conservation and indigenous right activities can be mutually reinforcing.

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