Subject: Asia, Pacific countries (inc. TL) to push coral reef into Kyoto mechanism

Asia, Pacific countries to push coral reef into Kyoto mechanism

BALI, Indonesia, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- Indonesia and five other countries within the Asia and Pacific regions have announced that they would propose their marine and coral reefs should be taken into account as a carbon sink within the climate change protocol.

On the sidelines of the U.N. climate change conference here Thursday, officials from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and the Solomon Islands underlined the importance of the coral triangle area's absorption of around 245 million tons of carbon per year to the world's survival, The Jakarta Post reported on Friday.

Indonesian Fisheries and Marine Affairs Minister, Freddy Numberi, who opened the six countries' senior official meeting to discuss the action plan to conserve the coral area, said that the area, which is dubbed as the Amazon of the Seas because it contains 53 percent of the world's coral reef and over 3,000 fish species, was the earth's epicenter of marine life and diversity.

"We have made efforts to conserve it during the past five years, so we want the world to appreciate it. One of the ways is to include it into the Kyoto Protocol framework so that it can be turned into a carbon sink, and later trade it for carbon credit," Freddy told reporters.

The first meeting of senior officials from the six countries will come up with what will be known as the Coral Triangle Initiative that will outline concrete actions to preserve the coral reefs and how it will be financed.

The officials will meet with their counterparts from Australia and the U.S., two countries that have expressed an interest to help finance the initiative.

The meeting is a follow up to the APEC Declaration in Sydney, Australia, on Sept. 9, where APEC participants responded positively to Indonesia's move to launch an initiative on coral reefs, fisheries and food security.

The meeting is expected to endorse a joint plan of action which will be adopted at the World Ocean Conference in 2009 in Manado, North Sulawesi.

Freddy underlined the urgent need for parties in the conference to give sufficient support for the coral reefs because climate change has already begun to destroy many parts of the area.

He also urged the parties give their full attention to the small-island states, because these states will be hit hardest by climate change, such as by the rise of sea levels. They could be wiped out by global warming and the rising sea level.

Indonesia has lost 2,000 islands so far because of the rise in sea level, he said. "That's why, we urge that mitigation and adaptation programs under the convention should be directed to these island states," Freddy said.

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