Debt-swap goes to nature
Jakarta committed to the conservation of its dwindling tropical forests in a multimillion dollar debt-swap deal signed on Tuesday with the US government, the US embassy said. Jakarta’s payments to Washington will be reduced by US$30 million over the next eight years under the US Tropical Forest Conservation Act, the embassy said in a statement. The Indonesian government will donate the money it saves to the charities Conservation International and the Indonesian Biodiversity Foundation, which will deposit the money into a local forest conservation fund.
Drinking water threatened
The fifth-largest freshwater lake in China is at risk of a massive algae outbreak that could jeopardize drinking water for millions of people, reflecting systemic pollution in China as it rushes to modernize. Satellite photos show that about 30km2 of Chaohu lake in eastern Anhui Province are already covered in algae, the Xinhua news agency reported on Tuesday. The waters of Chaohu often turn slimy in the summer as algae fed by sewage, farm and factory runoff bloom, leaving it toxic and undrinkable. The lake is flanked by two industrial cities that together house some 5 million people and whose industrial and residential waste is tipped directly into the very body of water that provides their drinking water. China has a national goal of restoring its severely polluted lakes by 2030.
No emission caps: minister
New Delhi will not sign up to targets to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions but will instead focus on fighting poverty and boosting economic growth, the environment minister said on Tuesday. India is one of the world’s biggest emitters alongside China, the US and Russia, and the second most populous nation. But India’s per capita emissions lag far behind rich countries and it feels the developed world should take the lead on tackling climate change. “India cannot and will not take emission reduction targets because poverty eradication and social and economic development are first and over-riding priorities,” a statement on behalf of Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said. A legally binding emission reduction target endangers India’s energy conservation, food security and transport, he said.
Bhutto inquiry begins
A UN commission appointed to investigate the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto began work yesterday, a spokesman said. The panel, which has a six-month mandate, is being led by the Chilean ambassador to the US, Heraldo Munoz, and includes an Indonesian ex-attorney general and an Irish former police official. Bhutto, the first woman to become prime minister of a Muslim country, was killed on Dec. 27, 2007, in a gun and suicide attack after addressing an election rally in Rawalpindi, a garrison city near the capital Islamabad.
Police car yields cash
Police discovered about 10 million baht (US$290,000 dollars) in cash hidden in the doors of a car belonging to an alleged drug trafficker that had been impounded and driven by officers for the past two years, media reports said yesterday. Department of Special Investigation chief Thawee Sodsong told a press conference on Tuesday that police in Udon Thani Province had recently found 9,998,000 baht packed inside the back doors of a Toyota Fortuner.