Blazing a trail for solutions

Fitrian Ardiansyah ,  Climate Solutions, The Jakarta Post   |  Tue, 03/09/2010 1:31 PM  |  Environment

With all the doom and gloom scenarios of climate change, most countries are compelled to find a new path or begin new undertakings to adjust their economic development.

They are doing so to limit the global average temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius while ensuring their economies are still growing.

In G8 countries – based on the G8 Climate Scorecard analysis published by WWF, Allianz and Ecofys, Germany, the United Kingdom (UK) and France rank highest for having slashed their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and met their Kyoto Protocol targets.

Germany has successfully promoted new renewable energy sources and committed to an ambitious 40 percent GHG emissions reduction target by 2020.

In the German power sector, guaranteed feed-in tariffs – a type of renewable energy incentive scheme – for electricity from renewable sources have led to a considerable increase in renewable energy capacity. As a result, the country exceeded its national target three years earlier than projected.

The UK, which scored second in the analysis, achieved its Kyoto target mainly by transitioning from coal to gas in the 1990s. The strong national climate debate in the UK has also led to innovative national policies, such as the Climate Change Act.

Nevertheless, there is still huge potential for G8 and other industrialized countries to drive significant emission reductions in the future in areas where progress has been lacking, including renewables, transport, households and services.

On the other hand, developing countries, especially new emerging economies, have been presenting or are preparing national strategies to reduce emissions in the future.

South Africa and Mexico have so far come up with the most detailed plans. South Africa is aiming to reduce its emissions by 30 percent by 2050 and Mexico 50 percent by 2050.

South Africa has developed a comprehensive national strategy on long-term mitigation scenarios including clear actions that need to be implemented.

The country has also established a policy delineating a vision, strategic direction and framework for a climate policy across many sectors, which includes feed-in tariffs, taxes, grants, enhancement of existing policies, monitoring and regulatory reform.

Indonesia pledged to cut GHG emissions by 26 percent by 2020 from “business as usual” (BAU) levels, and by 41 percent with international support.

It is good to see that some agencies are well ahead when it comes to planning how to contribute to this emission cut.

These include the Finance Ministry, with economic and fiscal policy strategies for climate change mitigation and the National Development Planning Agency, with a reduction of carbon emissions from peat lands.

However, Indonesia has not explicitly elaborated on the most effective way to reduce GHG emissions in the country nor come up with a comprehensive multi-sector policy, clearer road map or substantial actions to reach its goals.

In other developing countries, support for key actions to reduce GHG emissions – such as promoting energy efficiency, developing renewables and reducing deforestation – has grown.

In China, the energy intensity targets focus on industrial processes and products. The country is also planning to close down small inefficient units in certain sectors (in the cement, iron and steel industries) to build new production facilities.

The implementation of these targets would have a significant effect on GHG emissions especially since China’s negotiated energy reduction targets for 1,000 of its most energy-intensive enterprises are now being implemented.

In the development of renewable energy, India provides strong incentives to enhance the renewable energy production capacity, renewable energy portfolio standards and trading of renewable energy certificates.

India also plans to further expand solar power generation and offshore wind energy, to make solar power competitive with fossil-based energy.

In China, businesses and the government have launched a number of initiatives to boost renewable energy development. These have offered a new platform for the future growth of China’s renewable energy sector.

Growth of China’s renewable energy sector has been nothing less than explosive over the past few years. In 2007, total investment in the country’s renewable energy projects grew to over US$12 billion, ranking second worldwide in terms of overall capital inflow.

When it comes to reducing deforestation, Brazil has put forward very ambitious plans, targeting a 70 percent reduction in deforestation by 2017 in the Amazon region as well as an increase in the level of afforestation and reforestation.

Indonesia may need to take its cues from China and India when promoting energy efficiency and developing renewable energy.

For instance, the government can work with the business sector to commit to significant energy efficient targets and implement this by introducing necessary incentives and standards.

To develop its renewable energy potential, Indonesia could develop its renewable energy portfolio and provide significant fiscal and financing incentives the way India and China have.

Faced with similar challenges of reducing deforestation, Indonesia and Brazil can share their experience when it comes to improving policies, providing financial support and delivering actions.

Overall, these pioneering policies and actions prove that options for solutions are at hand.

Indonesia’s challenges lie in creating the right policies, implementing them as well as furthering existing actions.

These may not prove to be easy but necessary for Indonesia to meet its emission reduction pledge.

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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