In October 2011, Antara News reported that Tony Blair had visited Central Kalimantan and met the Governor, Agustin Teras Narang. According to Antara News, Blair supports the REDD+ programme in Central Kalimantan.
After meeting Blair, Governor Narang announced that “Tony Blair promised to help Central Kalimantan in developing its human resources, government administration capabilities and creating a data base”.
Before this visit, Blair had shown little interest in deforestation and REDD.
In 2006, when Blair was still UK Prime Minister, he made a joint statement with Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on combating illegal logging and working together to promote sustainable development and environmental conservation.
In 2009, Blair launched a report titled “Technology for a Low Carbon Future”. The report includes REDD as one of three areas that could reduce emissions by 70% by 2020 (the other two being increasing energy efficiency and using lower-carbon energy sources). The report includes few details about how REDD could be achieved, but does include a box titled, “Difficulty of achieving carbon savings from forest”. The abbreviation “REDD” is used once in the report. This is the only mention of REDD on Tony Blair’s website.
In a speech at the 2009 UN climate negotiations in Copenhagen, Blair said that REDD “could yield major benefits”. He added that, “The forestry sector could have a potential saving of six giga-tonnes in 2020.”
But what is stranger than Blair’s sudden interest in REDD and Central Kalimantan is that Blair does not appear to have met any government officials other than Governor Narang while he was in Indonesia. Blair did not meet President Yudhoyono despite the fact that Indonesia and the EU signed a Voluntary Partnership Agreement on illegal logging in May 2011. Blair did not even contact the UK government’s Climate Change Unit in Jakarta.
In an attempt to find out a little more about Blair’s trip to Indonesia, REDD-Monitor wrote to Tony Blair’s office on 1 November 2011. So far, there has been no reply. If anyone can help with any further information about Blair’s visit, please let me know via the comments after this post.
From: Chris Lang
Date: 31 October 2011 19:39
Subject: Tony Blair in Indonesia last week – a few questions
Dear Sir or Madam,
Greetings from Jakarta! My name is Chris Lang, and I run a website about reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (http://redd-monitor.org). I noticed from an article in Antara News that Tony Blair was in Indonesia last week. His trip included a visit to Central Kalimantan:
I would be grateful if you could answer the following questions about Blair’s visit:
1. Could you please explain why Tony Blair visited Indonesia and why he suddenly seems to be showing an interest in REDD (as far as I can tell he’s said little about deforestation in recent years).
2. Was the visit to Indonesia part of his work on the Breaking the Climate Deadlock initiative?
3. How long did Blair spend in Indonesia?
4. Which institution organised the meeting agenda and travel in Indonesia?
5. Did Tony Blair meet with any Indonesian government officials apart from Governor Teras Narang?
6. After the visit, Teras Narang told Antara News that Tony Blair “promised to help Central Kalimantan”. Could you please confirm whether this is true and if so, please explain exactly what form this help will take.
7. Did Tony Blair meet any non-government organisations while he was in Indonesia? If so, which ones.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you. Please consider your response to be on the record.
Best regards, Chris Lang
PHOTO Credit: Steve Bell, via Greenpeace.