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  • Obama meets Widodo with climate change high on agenda

    2015 - 10.26

    This week sees a meeting between US President Barack Obama and Indonesian President Joko Widodo, with climate change and deforestation high on the agenda.

    As Widodo heads to the White House, forest fires rage across the Asian country, which has made the issue even more pertinent that it already was.

    The illegal burning of Indonesian forests is indeed a massive issue. Some estimate that the current emissions from Indonesian fires are higher than the total emissions from the US economy. As such, the country's government and its leader are under huge pressure to tackle the dangerous practice.

    Speaking on Friday ahead of the meeting at the Oval Office on Monday, White House spokesman Eric Schultz said that this is Widodo’s "first visit to Washington since taking office, and I do expect them to discuss climate". In view of the UN climate talks in Paris later this year, Schultz added, as "two of the world’s largest democracies, [this is] an area that the two countries can work together" on.

    Pressure is mounting on Indonesia from both domestic and international groups to curb its rate of deforestation and lower carbon emissions. Greenwood Management is among those who would stress the importance of protecting the nation's forests – not only would stopping forest fires reduce carbon emissions, but also allowing forests to flourish is the planet's best means of absorbing carbon from the atmosphere and thus combatting climate change from both angles.

    Nigel Purvis, president and CEO of the Washington-based consulting firm Climate Advisers, commented: "As Presidents Obama and Jokowi meet, much of Indonesia and Southeast Asia will be choking on smoke from fires set to clear forests for farming.

    "In 2009, President Jokowi’s predecessor pledged that Indonesia would reduce deforestation dramatically. That hasn’t happened yet. The stars are aligning for President Jokowi to deliver now, and this will be a test of his climate leadership."

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