by Made Anthony Iswara (Twitter: @anthonyiswara)
“Climate change is a major threat to global prosperity and development. Global collaboration, partnership [and] solidarity is the key,” said Joko Widodo President of Indonesia opening his speech during the World Leader Summit at COP26 on Monday. He said Indonesia has continued to contribute to addressing climate change. He claimed, for example, that the deforestation rate has fallen to its “lowest in the last 20 years” and forest fires also decreased by 82 per cent in 2020. At the same time, Indonesia’s president admitted that this was not enough. “Indonesia, as a country with large areas of green land with the potential for reforestation, as well as large seas with the potential to contribute to carbon emission reductions, needs international support and assistance from developed countries,” he said.
The country is highly dependent on fossil fuels, which make up 89 per cent of the primary energy sources, according to data from the International Energy Agency. Around 60 per cent of Indonesia’s electricity generation comes from coal. Indonesia is also struggling to meet its current climate pledges, which include a commitment to increase renewable electricity generation to 23 per cent by 2025. As a result, the country will need foreign aid to help it transition to renewables. Climate finance, in general, will be a key issue during COP26, since developed countries are yet to fulfil their commitment of investing $100 billion per year in decarbonisation projects. The wealthier nations are likely to miss this target yet again this year, and the situation does not look any better for next year, either. However, they are expected to meet the pledge in 2023, according to an OECD report.
As part of its actions on climate change, Jokowi said Indonesia also plans to rehabilitate 600,000 hectares of its mangrove forest by 2024, which he claimed was “the largest in the world”. The forestry sector is important for tackling emissions in the country. According to Jokowi, Indonesia’s forests will become a “carbon sink” by 2030, contributing 60 per cent of the country’s emission reduction targets. Developing an electric car ecosystem, constructing the “largest solar power plant in Southeast Asia” and developing “the world's largest green industrial area in North Kalimantan” were also among the plans that Jokowi mentioned.
To accomplish this, Indonesia will continue to mobilise funding. Jokowi said the provision of climate finance by developed country parties is a “game changer” in climate change mitigation and adaptation actions. With such help, Indonesia will be able to make a more rapid contribution to the global target of net zero emissions, Jokowi said. “The question is how much have support have developed countries given us? What technology transfer can be provided?,” Jokowi added. “This needs action. This needs immediate implementation.”
Indonesia’s commitments at COP26 followed calls from young Indonesians to tackle climate change as a matter of urgency. A survey by polling firm Indikator Politik Indonesia (IPI) and non-profit organisation Yayasan Cerah showed that most respondents felt that the Indonesian government should do more to address climate change. Over half of the respondents said they were highly concerned about environmental degradation. It was the second most frequently cited problem after corruption from the list of the most worrying issues in Indonesia included in the survey. The survey also showed that 6 out of 10 respondents said they understood that human activities had changed the global climate and as such humans have the responsibility to take action. It also noted that 4 out of 5 respondents agreed that we should protect and preserve the environment, even if this slows down economic progress. “I hope that the general public and political elites will consider everything we have said here and will seek to accommodate young people’s aspirations,” said Burhanuddin Muhtadi, Executive Director of IPI, during a press conference on October 27.
In the last few years, the Indonesian government has attempted to make progress in mitigating climate change through its Long-Term Strategy on Low Carbon and Climate Resilience 2050 and Nationally Determined Contributions, among others. However, some activists have been critical of the Indonesian government for not doing enough to prevent environmental degradation, despite having lofty targets and plans. Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI) campaigner Yuyun Harmono, for example, said that the government and political parties are still pushing for legislation and regulations that facilitate investment to encourage economic growth. “They forget that investment and development will be destroyed if there is a climate disaster. It’s like building a sandcastle, if the waves come, it will all be destroyed,” Harmono said. Climate disasters have been increasingly prevalent in recent years. The UN Office on Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) report indicates that disaster events worldwide have doubled from 4,212 between 1980 and 1999 to 7,348 during the last two decades. In Indonesia, data compiled by Katadata showed that the number of disasters have gradually increased since 2010. Around 95 per cent of them are hydrometeorological disasters, stated Deputy Head of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Prevention Lilik Kurniawan during a press conference on April 14, 2020.
Indonesia's young people are not the only ones to call out governments. UN Secretary General António Guterres said on Monday that current climate pledges means the world is heading towards a “calamitous” 2.7C of global warming. “So, as we open this much anticipated climate conference, we are still heading for climate disaster. Young people know it. Every country sees it. Small Island Developing States — and other vulnerable ones — live it. For them, failure is not an option,” he said.
“Failure is a death sentence,” Guterres added.
Made Anthony Iswara is a data journalist who strives to integrate research, communication and development economics to advocate policies. He has won 5 journalism awards and is among the five winners that won Best Article for the 2020 EU4Wartawan Competition organized by the European Union.