Indonesia faces tough jobs to set correct climate change policies

Indonesia faces tough jobs to set correct climate change policies

3 November 2009

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Indonesia — Indonesia is facing tough tasks to prepare itself prior to the 15th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) summit scheduled for December in Copenhagen, Denmark.

It is likely to face problems with its development policies that could be contradicted with the efforts to reduce climate change impacts. As a developing country, Indonesia needs foreign investors to spur its industry sector that would employ more people and would eventually spur economic growth.

As an equatorial country that has vast areas of rainforests, peatlands and sea, Indonesia has a key role in climate change issue. With all that facts, the world expected much from Indonesiato become the lungs for the world.

Indonesia also demonstrated strong commitment in climate change issue by hosting world climate change meeting in Bali in 2007 that resulted in Bali Roadmap and world coral reef meeting that resulted in Manado Initiative aimed at preserving the world’s coral reef from the impacts of climate change.

However, with the ongoing rampant forest and peatland areas opening for private companies’ plantations, particularly in Sumatra and Kalimantan islands, Indonesia has been a major carbon emitter country with smoke from its rampant and frequent forest and peatland fire has disrupted its neighbors in the region.

A result of a study conducted by McKinsey, commissioned by the National Council on Climate Change (DNPI) and was published earlier in the media, estimated that Indonesian greenhouse gas emissions may increase from 2.3 Gt CO2e in 2005 to 3.6 Gt CO2e by 2030. The biggest emitter sectors consecutively are peatland, forestry, energy and transportation.

The administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has set bold steps and clear targets in reducing carbon emissions by 26 percent of carbon emission by 2020 with the government’s own budget, or 41 percent with foreign funds assistance.

However, the government’s carbon emission target was doubted since it is assessed to be contradicting the government’s development plans.

“The government’s concern on carbon emission issue is questionable since it would open wide doors for foreign investors to set up manufactures across the country that would certainly lead to increase carbon emission from the manufactures’ operations,” said Teguh Surya, climate change campaigner at the Indonesian Forum for Environment (Walhi) referring to the results of National Summit that was held recently in Jakarta.

The summit that gathers officials from the central government and regional governments was aimed at making the development outline in the next five years. One of the summit’s recommendations was to attract more foreign investors to set their investments in the regions that would eventually provide more jobs for the people.

Apart from that, Teguh added, the government had never explained how would it do to accomplish the 26 percent carbon emission target.

“The government’s commitment that was launched at G20 summit in Pittsburg should be followed by clear cut steps so as to convince developed countries in providing assistance in the country’s efforts to reduce carbon emission,” Teguh said.

Teguh expected that the result of the summit would benefit the mankind with Kyoto Protocol still be retained as the legal binding measures for country that fails to abide with the global deals aimed at reducing climate change impacts.

According to the data released earlier to the media, Indonesia’s economic development implies to larger dependence on climate-sensitive sectors, in particular the energy and land-use sectors.

Historical data from the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry show that domestic demand for energy has been increasing faster than the average population growth.

From 1990 to 2006, the compound annual growth rate of total final energy consumption (excluding biomass) was about 5.5 percent, or an increase from 245 mission to 577 million Barrel Oil Equivalent (BOE).

A large amount of this demand was met by fossil fuels. The consequence of the use of fossil-based fuels has created gas emission, particularly the CO2. From 1990 to 1997, CO2 emissions increased 7 percent per year; since 1997, emissions have been increasing at 6 percent per year.

In terms of land use, the ongoing deforestation is estimated to be responsible for 18 percent of current greenhouse gas emissions.

As a country with large areas of rainforest and peatland, Indonesia is facing a serious rate of deforestation and forest degradation as well as peat fires and degradation.

Pressured by the demand to provide land for agriculture, settlements, infrastructure and mining operations, the country lost around 2.8 million hectares of forest a year from 1995 to 2000, 1.09 million hectares a year from 2000 to 2005, and 0.8 million hectares a year from 2006 to 2008, according to the Forestry Ministry.

The country’s primary forests are estimated to store around 230 tons of carbon per hectare, while secondary forests store around 176 tons of carbon. The current rate of forest cover loss may significantly contribute to the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The large scale of peatlands drainage resulted in CO2 emission of about 70 to 100 tons per year per hectare. More carbon may be released into the atmosphere if fire is used to clear forests and prepare for other land uses.

With economic growth at around 6 percent per year, Indonesia’s projected greenhouse gas emissions – based on the “business as usual” (BAU) development pattern – will definitely make the country one of the largest emitters in the world in the next century.

Nevertheless, decoupling economic development from greenhouse gas emissions is not impossible.

The same report mentions that Indonesia has the potential to reduce its CO2 emissions to 2.3 Gt per year by 2030. There are more than 150 possible ways that can be explored and implemented to achieve this.

There is considerable potential to reduce emissions from the energy and forestry sectors. The potential emission reduction by 2050 from the forestry sector ranges between 55 to 74 percent and from the energy sector around 26 to 38 percent compared to BAU.

This can only be achieved if Indonesia puts its developmental policies and governmental interventions in the direction of low carbon economy.

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