Emission's Pipe Dream

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  • People take part in a Global Climate Strike rally in Seoul, South Korea, September 21, 2019. Thousands of South Koreans, led by activists, laid on the ground signifying their deaths in a demonstration on Saturday (September 21) to demand action on climate change ahead of next week's climate summit at the United Nations. REUTERS/Heo Ran

    People take part in a Global Climate Strike rally in Seoul, South Korea, September 21, 2019. Thousands of South Koreans, led by activists, laid on the ground signifying their deaths in a demonstration on Saturday (September 21) to demand action on climate change ahead of next week's climate summit at the United Nations. REUTERS/Heo Ran

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - THE failure of the 25th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Madrid, Spain, last week, to define an operational document to execute the Paris Agreement reflects the low commitment all round of governments and the world’s political elite to overcome the issue of climate change. This is ironical bearing in mind the public’s increasing awareness of the issue in recent times.

    With no clear supporting mechanism, the execution of the Paris Agreement in 2020 is under dire threat of failure. The unfinished deliberations at the Madrid Conference render the many carbon trading schemes and international collaboration’s working mechanisms to reduce world carbon emission incapable of being designed. The discussion gridlock of the 197 country-participants of the conference show climate change mitigation is not the number one priority for the world’s nations.

    Neither is it for Indonesia. In fact, the Madrid Conference was detrimental to the government. President Joko Widodo’s target to reduce carbon emission by 41 percent – or 1,081 gigatons carbon equivalent – with international aid by 2030 is under threat of failure without a clear financial scheme at a global level.

    Thus, it is a real pity the government did not convey a more concrete and ambitious action plan in Madrid. Neither was Indonesia’s target reiterated to reduce emission to the amount of 29 percent by 2030 with no international aid. Even though the target was determined since the beginning of the Jokowi administration three years ago.

    Without clear commitment and a sound plan, it is no wonder many parties are pessimistic Indonesia can reach its carbon reduction target. It is important to note Indonesia’s position as the world’s fourth-largest emission producer is caused by two things: forest fires triggered by expanding oil palm plantations and the use of fossil-based energy, such as coal. It is no coincidence that the two items are Indonesia’s biggest export commodities.

    This inconsistency is the biggest impediment to the government’s climate change mitigation strategy. On the one hand, the government promised to increase the portion of new and renewable energy in the mix of national energy resources, but the construction of electric power plants fueled by coal is continuing unabated. While other countries are abandoning fossil fuel, the government is instead increasing domestic coal consumption.

    The same goes for oil palm. Forest clearing and conversion for oil palm plantations for sure have worsened our commitment regarding carbon emission reduction. The rapid clip of loss of forest cover in Indonesia is now at incredible levels, at 2,5million hectares of deforestation a year. Yet, when the European Union gave a warning and threatened to shut off its market from importing palm oil from Indonesia, the government instead pushed oil palm as a vehicle fuel for domestic use.

    This wishy-washy attitude is detrimental to people. Many of our citizenries have fallen real victims to increasing climate change patterns, including rising temperatures and sea levels. It is high time the government declares one voice for climate change mitigation. The Ministry of Environment and Forestry obviously cannot be the only institution responsible for reducing carbon emission in this country. This is a huge problem requiring inter-ministerial and inter-institutional action and decisions.

    President Jokowi has to take matters in hand directly and become the commander in the carbon reduction program. Without commitment and support from the head of state, the carbon emission reduction target will remain a mere pipe dream.

    Read the Complete Story in this Week's Edition of Tempo English Magazine