From: Reuters
Published January 29, 2007 12:00 AM

Indonesia May Lose 2,000 Islands to Climate Change

JAKARTA -- Indonesia could lose about 2,000 islands by 2030 due to climate change, the country's environment minister said on Monday.

Rachmat Witoelar said studies by U.N. experts showed that sea levels were expected to rise about 89 centimetres in 2030 which meant that about 2,000 mostly uninhabited small islets would be submerged.

"We are still in a better position. Island countries like Saint Lucia, Fiji and the Bahamas would likely disappear," he told Reuters.

Indonesia, which consists of 17,000 islands, has been trying to avert such a scenario by reducing reliance on fossil fuels and switching to bio-fuels, he said.

"We are optimistic it can be prevented. Switching to bio-fuels is not only good for the environment but also will benefit us economically considering the volatile state of oil prices," he said.

Biofuels can be substituted for fossil fuels and are seen as a way to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases which are believed to contribute to global warming.

A major U.N. conference on climate change will be held in the Indonesian island of Bali in December.

A draft U.N. report due to be released in Paris on Feb. 2 projects a big rise in temperatures this century and warns of more heat waves, floods, droughts and rising seas linked to greenhouse gases.

World leaders signed a U.N. Climate Convention in 1992 with an overriding goal of stabilising greenhouse gases at levels preventing "dangerous (human) interference with the climate system".

However, it did not define "dangerous" and the issue has been a vexed point in efforts to slow climate change ever since.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, the U.N. plan for fighting global warming, 35 industrial nations have agreed to cut emissions by 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2008-12.

U.S. President George W. Bush pulled the United States out of the protocol in 2001, saying it would damage the U.S. economy and wrongly exempted developing nations from the first phase.

Source: Reuters

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