Asian Firms Pledge Loyalty to Paris Accord on Climate

Top companies in Asia say they are standing behind the Paris climate accord reached last year, regardless of what path the U.S. takes.

That includes at least one major producer of palm oil, a product whose plantations are often associated with deforestation and air pollution caused by the burning of land to make way for them.

“We will continue to emphasize our priorities and keep climate at the top of the agenda,” John Hartmann, chief executive Cargill Tropical Palm Holdings Pte. Ltd., wrote in an email.

A number of other corporate leaders, from Australia to Japan, said they also would stand firm on plans to reduce their carbon footprints, even as U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has created uncertainty about the climate-change accord formed last year in Paris and now agreed to by nearly 200 nations. Top executives with many big American corporations also have said they would follow through on their plans to shrink their carbon profiles, even with Mr. Trump’s skeptical view of some Obama administration environmental policies.

Asia is a leading source of global emissions. Commodities and dirty energy have long supported the region’s economic growth, and meeting the commitments set out in the Paris accord will remain a challenge. Some countries with fast- growing demand for affordable power are planning new coal plants, for example. Asia is also home to emissions-producing industries such as mining, including for coal, and to the world’s top palm-oil producer: Indonesia.

Under the Paris agreement, Indonesia has pledged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 29%, the majority of which (17.3%) will come from efforts to reduce deforestation and burning. Lawmakers ratified the pact earlier this fall.

Fires set last year to clear land for plantations and other development in Indonesia broke records for their size and released more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each day over several weeks than did the entire U.S. economy, according to the World Resources Institute.

Nur Masripatin, climate-change director at Indonesia’sEnvironment and Forestry Ministry, said that ” each country must contribute to the global effort.” She added that “a change in U.S. policy to the Paris agreement doesn’t affect our commitment.”

For decades, companies in Indonesia have benefited from clearing tropical forests and exploiting natural resources. Now, many businesses say they see value in more sustainable operations.
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