Rising palm oil deforestation highlights environmental stakes of Indonesia election

Sydney Jones

Press Secretary

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Carole Mitchell

Sr. Director Communications

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As Prabowo Subianto claims victory in Indonesia’s election, new research reveals that palm oil-driven deforestation is on the rise in Indonesia after a decades-long decline. According to a new paper, deforestation for palm oil increased 36% from 22,000 hectares in 2022 to 30,000 hectares in 2023.

At the same time, a separate Mighty Earth analysis shows hundreds of thousands of hectares of Indonesian forest under threat from ill-considered infrastructure projects and dramatically expanded nickel mining for electric vehicle batteries. The bulk of the deforestation comes from a handful of companies that have evaded forest and climate policies adopted by the Indonesian government and most major agriculture companies.

Forest and energy policies figured prominently in the election debate and will be one of the most closely watched areas of Indonesian policy.

Glenn Hurowitz, Founder and CEO at Mighty Earth said: 

“Indonesia has made great progress in reducing deforestation for palm oil and other commodities by more than 90%, but these new figures show that continued progress will require doubling down on conservation.”

“Indonesia is a Nature and climate superpower. It’s also a country heavily dependent on natural resource exports and foreign investment that has demonstrated it’s possible to grow a successful agriculture sector while reducing emissions. Regardless of who is president, Indonesia’s future prosperity will come from building on its successes in protecting forests and driving decarbonization. Customers and investors alike are eager to pour money into countries that are decarbonizing their economies while protecting their natural resources.”

“With its new president, Indonesia has enormous opportunities to expand its market access if it doesn’t allow a handful of bad actors to undermine its leadership in conservation and decarbonization.”



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