Indonesia to cut emissions by 29% by 2030

Creative Commons, 2007.

Creative Commons, 2007.

Indonesia, currently the fifth biggest producer of greenhouse gases, has set out its plans to cut emissions ahead of the UN climate talks in December.

According to the announcement on Thursday, Indonesia will cut its emissions by 29% by 2030, compared to what it is currently on course for.

Along with the 29% cut, the Indonesian government also announced a 41% cut compared to a ‘business as usual’ trajectory, if sufficient financial and technological support from industrialised nations was provided.

The price tag for this support has been set at $6bn (£4bn).

However, the World Resources Insititute (WRI), a leading environmental think thank, said the vague nature of Indonesia’s climate plans made it near-impossible to judge the scale of Indonesia’s ambition or how it would actually meet those goals.

Taryn Fransen, leader of the Open Climate network at WRI, said:

It doesn’t include a lot of information. The current version does not allow for any accountability because it is simply not transparent enough.

Fransen added that most countries have been more forthcoming with their definition of ‘business as usual’ scenarios.

Jakarta also set relatively low ambitions for transitioning towards cleaner energy, with a target of just 23% of renewable energy in Indonesia’s electricity mix by 2030.

Currently, Indonesia is ranked the world’s fifth biggest producer of greenhouse gas emissions, due to the large-scale destruction of its rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands for palm oil and paper plantations.

Thus, a strong climate promise from the country is critical to ensure that global warming will not exceed the internationally agreed limit of 2C.

Indonesia, a coal producer, has been relying on using coal for power generation, after China cut coal imports drastically in recent years.

According to Greenpeace, coal shipments to China have fallen by close to 50%, while local coal use doubled in the six years ending in 2014, now amounting to about 35% of Indonesia’s domestic electricity.

Indonesia’s promise before the UN climate talks this December lags behind those of other developing countries such as Mexico and South Korea, which have been clearer about spelling out their emissions reductions targets.

Only three other countries have been as ambiguous about spelling out their ‘business as usual’ scenarios and they are all much smaller than Indonesia: Benin, Gabon, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Four years ago, Indonesia committed to stopping opening up new forests and peatlands for plantation expansion.

However, each summer huge swathes of forest are cut down and burnt to clear land for corporate development or oil palm plantations.

Indonesia’s vast swathes of forests and peatlands are one of the most important carbon stores.

Therefore, when these are cut down, or drained and burned, to make way for plantations, large amounts of carbon dioxide are released into the atmosphere.

WRI said Indonesia needed a ban on all future forest clearance, including licences that were awarded some years ago, and have yet to be activated.

Andhyta Utami, a research analyst at WRI in Jakarta, said:

If Indonesia wanted to seriously protect its land and reduce carbon emissions, then it needs a permanent moratorium.

Dr. Nirarta “Koni” Samadhi, Country Director of WRI Indonesia, lauded the country’s seriousness to address climate change, but also voiced concerns:
The commitment to include ecosystem management and landscape restoration could considerably shrink the forested country’s carbon footprint if implemented effectively. The bold pledge to quadruple Indonesia’s share of renewable energy within a decade would be a major achievement, though further investment in coal-fired power would undermine this vision.
[A]head of the Paris climate talks, we hope Indonesia will be even more transparent so stakeholders will have even more confidence about the scale of the country’s efforts. On the whole, Indonesia’s climate plan is promising but more assurances are needed that the country will stay the course.

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