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BHP Billiton is among the mining companies mining coal in Kalimantan in Indonesia

Indonesia’s ambitious plans to boost coal production and exports from Kalimantan are ill-advised and not worth the environmental and social cost, according to a key report from Greenpeace.

In the “Point of No Return” report released last week, the environmental group said the Indonesian government was one of a handful of governments helping “push the world past the point of no return” by pursuing massive coal, oil and gas projects that would produce as much new carbon dioxide emissions in 2020 as the entire United States.

“These new climate-changing mega-projects are the direct result of the hypocrisy shown by a handful of governments,” Kumi Naidoo, the executive director of Greenpeace International, said in a press release on the organization’s website.

“These governments claim they want to prevent catastrophic climate change, but shamefully continue to approve and promote major fossil fuel projects that will lead to climate chaos and devastation,” he added.

In Indonesia’s case, the report said, the government was risking the livelihoods of indigenous people and the rich biodiversity in Kalimantan by continuing to increase coal production.

“As a result of expansion in Kalimantan, Indonesia’s coal output has been surging — reaching an average growth rate of 20 percent a year since 2000, from 77 million tons a year to 325 million tons in 2011,” the report said.

“The planned increase in coal exports would produce an additional 460Mt [megatons] of greenhouse gas emissions, as much CO2 as the entire emissions of the UK in 2010.”

The report warned that in order to achieve that increase, mining firms would expand their operations onto land belonging to indigenous groups, resulting in polluted groundwater, loss of livelihoods, health problems and disputes.

“While the Indonesian government pays lip service to environmental sustainability in the Master Plan for the Acceleration and Expansion of Indonesia’s Economic Development (MP3EI), it largely ignores the terrible price those living around the mines will have to pay,” Greenpeace said.

“Reports have surfaced of the oppression of those speaking out against the destructive mining practices.”

Mining operations would also threaten huge swaths of rainforest that are home to endangered species such as the orangutan, thereby racking up major environmental and social costs, Greenpeace said.

“Now, the Indonesian government is planning to spend public money on infrastructure investments and incentives that aim to dramatically increase coal exports from Kalimantan even further. The toll on the people and the environment will be enormous,” the report said.

See also Coal exports risk biodiversity of Kalimantan, say activists,