Making a case for climate in 100 days

ROAD to COPENHAGEN, Fitrian Ardiansyah, Jakarta   |  Tue, 10 Nov 2009 12:39 PM  |  Environment , page 21

In the midst of a political storm brewing over the arrest of suspended leaders of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) launched a National Summit followed by a week of back-to-back meetings, which resulted in a “100 days” program for his Cabinet.

Overall, the President laid out 45 programs, earmarking 15 as priorities. The 11th on the list of priorities is a program dedicated to addressing climate change and environmental issues.

SBY and his Cabinet have committed to formulating a five-year action plan addressing climate change and environmental degradation. More specifically, the President has put the emphasis on managing forests in a sustainable manner, furthering actions against illegal logging, preventing forest and land fires and preserving the remaining forest protections.

With this program, he hopes Indonesia will reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which mostly come from deforestation and forest degradation.

The question remains, nevertheless, whether the upcoming five-year action plan on climate change and the environment will be adequate and sufficient enough to act as a basis for achieving Indonesia’s aspiration outlined in the G20 leaders meeting in Pittsburgh.

At the G20 meeting, the President stated the government was devising a policy to cut emissions by 26 percent by 2020 from “business as usual” (BAU) levels. The President expressed confidence that, with international support, Indonesia could cut emissions by as much as 41 percent.

SBY added that his administration was committed to changing the status of Indonesia’s forests a net-emitter sector to a net-sink sector by 2030.

Rather than wait “100 days” to achieve its objective, the government can immediately extrapolate and strengthen existing policies, including the National Actions Plan on Mitigation and Adaptation on Climate Change (RAN-MAPI) 2007, which the State Ministry of Development Planning (Bappenas) is currently refining into the Climate Change Road Map.

With regards to deforestation, SBY can declare the remaining peatlands as well as natural and high conservation value forests as critical, hence preventing them from being converted for oil palm, pulpwood, mining or any other land uses.

These lands and forests represent one of the world’s most significant stock of terrestrial carbon and most threatened habitats of endangered species.

The President needs to explore and use policy incentives, as well as request additional bilateral and multilateral assistance to support Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD) initiatives, with an emphasis on building strong forest measuring and monitoring systems and good governance capacities in key forested countries.

The President can request his minister of forestry and other relevant ministers – in partnership with the private sector, civil societies, community groups and with bilateral and multilateral donors – to leverage the resources needed for REDD programs and projects.

Using the existing Indonesia Climate Change Trust Fund (ICCTF), the President needs to encourage his Cabinet to coordinate government agencies and private partners’ efforts to save these remaining peatlands and forests through innovative approaches, such as increasing incentives and sustainable financing to avoid deforestation, conservation as well as sustainable management of forests.

These coordinated actions, if planned and carried out properly, will not only enrich SBY’s 100-day program but also gradually address the problems of climate change.

In addition to priority number 11, there are at least three other priorities in this “100 days” program that are linked to climate change and environmental issues.

Priority number four aims at increasing the capability of electricity to meet the energy demands of the industrial and commercial sector, households and transportation for the next five years. In 100 days, the government will map deficiencies in electricity provision for each province.

At various occasions, SBY stated he would devise a policy that would allow Indonesia to fulfill its aspiration to reduce emissions by stepping up investment in the energy sector, especially to boost energy efficiency and renewable energy.

To do this, SBY can ask the minister of energy and mineral resources to develop a policy and incentives framework that will accelerate the development of large-scale renewable energy and the adoption of efficient energy.

An immediate obstacle to using renewable energy and increasing energy efficiency is energy pricing. The energy pricing process in this country needs to be reformed to reflect the total economic value of utilizing respective energy sources.

Energy pricing so far has led to irresponsible use of energy sources, and to some extent, rendered some energy sources scarce. It has become difficult to use renewable energy or promote energy efficiency because of the competition with some highly subsidized energy sources, noticeably fossil fuels.

A fifth priority focuses on food security, in which the government will outline a “grand-design” to achieve self-reliance in several staple foods. The design will depend on supporting factors including irrigation systems, fertilizers, interest subsidies for farmers and research and development.

As Indonesia’s population continues to grow, the government needs to increase its support for long-term agricultural development. The focus should be on developing environmentally friendly, sustainable methods of production – incorporating climate change projections and vulnerability assessments – and on the creation of policies and market institutions benefiting small farmers and the rural poor.

Finally, priority number seven, which deals with the complexity of land use and spatial planning, strongly relates to the 11th priority. In 100 days, the government plans to synergize the overlapping uses and status of land among forestry, mining and the environment. From an institutional point of view, SBY will coordinate actions with different sectors and layers of governments to untangle this challenge.

One immediate option for the government to succeed in achieving this priority is to optimize the use of abandoned lands. Various statistics currently indicate that between 7 and 14 million hectares of land can be considered degraded, abandoned and/or idle.

Not all of these lands are likely to be available for development. Hence, comprehensive analysis will be needed to ensure these lands can be sustainably and responsibly developed, which then takes the pressure off forests and peatlands.

Overall, getting the “100 days” program off the ground will not be easy given the complex challenges we face, especially with regards to climate change.

If these challenges can be dealt with, and concrete options explored as well as incorporated in the government’s policies and actions, prospects for Indonesian development will be much brighter. If these challenges are resolved, a huge opportunity to address climate change will become reality.

The writer is program director of climate & energy at WWF-Indonesia, and adjunct lecturer at Paramadina Graduate School of Diplomacy. He can be reached at

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