What is at stake for Indonesia

ROAD to COPENHAGEN, Fitrian Ardiansyah ,  Jakarta   |  Tue, 12/01/2009 10:42 AM  |  Environment

Copenhagen, which will host the UN Climate conference in less than a week from now, may be far away from Indonesia. But any results coming out of this intense negotiation forum will have a significant impact on the fate of the country and the earth in general.

The Bali Action Plan (BAP), the main outcome of the 13th session of the Conference of Parties (COP-13) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held in Bali in 2007, marked the beginning of two years of formal negotiations to reach an ambitious global climate agreement.

This plan mandates parties to negotiate and reach a substantial agreement on how to — over the long term — reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, mitigate and adapt to climate change, transfer and develop the appropriate technology as well as provide the financial resources and investment to do so.

As the host country of COP-13, it is in Indonesia’s best interest the Copenhagen conference reaches the BAP’s objectives – by having a new treaty regulating bigger GHG emissions cuts, which follows on from the Kyoto Protocol.

The current Kyoto protocol, which will expire in 2012, requires developed nations to cut GHG emissions by about 5 percent from 1990 levels to help slow global warming.

Credible science proves this level of cuts is insufficient, and that there is a need for all countries to urgently take further action.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the average global temperature must not rise by more than 2 degrees Celsius if we want to ensure  that most vulnerable nations, communities and ecosystems survive.

Emission reductions from developed countries therefore have to be at the high end of the IPCC’s lowest mitigation scenario strategy – between 25 to 40 percent.

However, current proposed GHG emission targets will lead to a higher than 3.5 degree Celsius increase in average global temperature by 2100, according to Climate Action Tracker’s Project Catalyst.

Although China and the US – two of the world’s biggest GHG emitters – have brightened the prospects of reaching an agreement with their current promises to curb GHG emissions, the emissions reduction targets tabled by industrialized countries currently add up to only reductions of 10 to 14 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

Therefore, Indonesian negotiators, led by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, need to lobby industrialized countries to push them into committing to higher emission reduction targets.

Developed countries, including the US, are required to join a strong new international agreement in Copenhagen by adopting economy-wide quantified emission reduction commitments.

The commitments of industrialized countries need to be articulated without loopholes. The main loopholes to watch out for are: offsets, reduced/abandoned Assigned Amount Unit (AAU) surplus from the previous commitment period, and unclear accounting rules for land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF).

Beside commitments from developed countries, developing countries also need to take significant measures to contribute to climate change mitigation.

A large number of developing countries, including Indonesia, have announced they would put in place significant measures unilaterally as well as actions that require the support of industrialized countries.

These measures should be spelled out clearly and in detail under the Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Actions (NAMAs) at the Copenhagen conference.

With NAMAs, developing countries can aim to reach the emission reductions required and at the
same time grow their economies enough to eradicate poverty and ensure the right to sustainable

These actions need to be brought into the Copenhagen climate deal at a level that can lead to a deviation from business-as-usual scenarios of at least 30 percent by 2020.

Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) is a particularly important component of reducing overall GHG emissions.

With deforestation, forest degradation and other land use changes accounting for approximately 15 to 20 percent of GHG emissions, it is clear that any solution tackling climate change must include a solution to these issues.

The current rate of deforestation and forest degradation, not only affecting the world’s rich terrestrial biodiversity but also the livelihoods of more than one billion of the world’s poorest people, has clearly undermined the development of nations with tropical forests.

Therefore, it is crucial Indonesia and these nations secure a global umbrella framework for REDD as part of the post-2012 global climate agreement.

The success of the Copenhagen conference will not only mark Indonesia’s triumph in guiding the BAP but also ensure the survival of this archipelagic country, its hundreds of millions of people and precious ecosystems.

The observed and projected impacts of climate change in this country include an increase in the
severity of droughts, floods, fires, coral bleaching, the gradual rise of sea levels, and an increase in the frequency of extreme weather conditions including storms, which destroy natural and human-made systems in the area.

Therefore, it is important to set in place a framework for immediate action as part of the Copenhagen deal, especially for other vulnerable countries – including Indonesia – and ecosystems, which includes the provision of financial help to face loss and damage caused by climate change impacts.

Developing countries implementing measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change cannot be expected to do so without financial support from industrialized countries.

Indonesia needs to convince industrialized countries they have to provide fast-start financial packages between 2010 and 2012. They must then be coaxed into agreeing on multiple and innovative sources and scale of long-term funding.

This overall support must be additional to aid budgets and managed in a transparent way to help developing countries.

For the last two years, 192 governments have worked on the new agreement, incorporating a shared vision and building blocks for mitigation, adaptation, technology and finance. All the necessary proposals have been drafted and are on the table. The raw material for a new agreement exists.

To ensure the BAP is implemented and a deal is struck in Copenhagen, Indonesia has to be pro-active in lobbying the world’s negotiators and leaders to agree to the relevant parts of the future climate treaty, formulated in treaty language, based on a decision on the exact form of
an enforceable, legally binding framework.

Indonesia can use its unique position to bring the developed and developing worlds together and bridge the gap between these two blocks to reach a global climate agreement.

Positive outcomes at the COP-15 will not only help the world tackle climate change but also eventually safeguard the development and survival of Indonesia’s population and its valuable ecosystems.

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 fardiansyah@wwf.or.id

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