On fire activity and carbon emissions: Doubts on transparency in corporate commitments, Indonesia Fire Free Alliance of plantation groups

18 Mar 2017: Doubts on transparency in corporate commitments, Indonesia Fire Free Alliance of plantation groups

Growth in deforestation commitments hides transparency issues By David Burrows, 17-Mar-2017 -- The number of manufacturers using one of the four key commodities linked to deforestation has increased from 67% to 71%, but a worrying number of targets have been missed or forgotten, according to a new report.

Fire Free Alliance Welcomes Malaysian Palm Oil Giants - Muhamad Al Azhari | March 16, 2017 -- The Fire Free Alliance, a voluntary multi-stakeholder platform to aid in the resolution of land and forest fires in Indonesia, has welcomed aboard Malaysian corporations Sime Darby and IOI Group, thus further extending the reach of their program across Indonesia and Malaysia. http://www.jakartaglobe.beritasatu.com/business/fire-free-alliance-welcomes-malaysian-palm-oil-giants/

22 Feb 2017: On fire activity and carbon emissions - some article and links

Cattau et al. (2016) write: “Fire activity peaks during the dry season months (August–October) both within and outside of concessions. Fire activity was higher in dry years 2014 and 2015… both within and outside of concessions... The total number of fire detections (N = 205 749) on Kalimantan and Sumatra 2012–2015 located outside of oil palm concession boundaries and within concessions boundaries. 16.6% of all the fire detections during the study period are located within oil palm concessions... A disproportionate percentage of the total fire detections (52.3%) occur on peatlands considering the percent land area in peatland (13.7%)... RSPO has the potential to reduce fires, but is currently only effective when fire likelihood is relatively low and thus fewer fires occur and are presumably more easily controllable…  in order for this mechanism to reduce fire, greater efforts may be needed to control fires in dry years and on peatlands.” The indication of fire detections so far may support the dominant narrative in the industry that attribute fires more to smallholders and small producers (in non-concession areas, see below).

Fire detections in Sumatra and Kalimantan, 2012-2015 by Cattau et al. (2016)

Looking back to the earlier 1997/98 fire-haze that drew the world’s attention to palm oil sustainability, Page et al. (2002) write: “The amount of carbon released from peat and forest fires in Indonesia during 1997: estimate that 0.19–0.23 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon were released to the atmosphere through peat combustion, with a further 0.05 Gt released from burning of the overlying vegetation. Extrapolating these estimates to Indonesia as a whole, we estimate that between 0.81 and 2.57 Gt of carbon were released to the atmosphere in 1997 as a result of burning peat and vegetation in Indonesia. This is equivalent to 13–40% of the mean annual global carbon emissions from fossil fuels, and contributed greatly to the largest annual increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration detected since records began in 1957.” The 2014/2015 El Nino dry period is associated with the 2015 wildfires, Huijnen et al. (2016) conclude that: “With a mean emission rate of 11.3 Tg CO2 per day during Sept-Oct 2015, emissions from these fires exceeded the fossil fuel CO2 release rate of the European Union (EU28) (8.9 Tg CO2 per day). Although seasonal fires are a frequent occurrence in the human modified landscapes found in Indonesia, the extent of the 2015 fires was greatly inflated by an extended drought period associated with a strong El Niño….we derive total emissions of 692 ± 213 Tg CO2 and 3.2 ± 1.2 Tg CH4... Our fire carbon emission estimate for Sept-Oct 2015 represents the largest seen over the Maritime southeast Asia region since 1997, but still it is only a quarter of the most recent estimate for the Sept-Oct period of that El Niño year”

Cattau, Megan E, Miriam E Marlier and Ruth DeFries (2016), 'Effectiveness of Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) for reducing fires on oil palm concessions in Indonesia from 2012 to 2015', Environmental Research Letters (19 Oct. 2016), 11 105007, https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/11/10/105007.

Huijnen V., M. J. Wooster, J. W. Kaiser, D. L. A. Gaveau, J. Flemming, M. Parrington, A. Inness, D. Murdiyarso, B. Main & M. van Weele (2016), 'Fire carbon emissions over maritime southeast Asia in 2015 largest since 1997', Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 26886 (2016), doi:10.1038/srep26886.

Page , Susan E., Florian Siegert, John O. Rieley, Hans-Dieter V. Boehm, Adi Jaya & Suwido Limin (2002), The amount of carbon released from peat and forest fires in Indonesia during 1997, Nature 420, 61-65 (7 Nov. 2002). doi:10.1038/nature01131.

The Global Peatland CO2 Picture - Peatland status and emissions in all countries of the world (draft)

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