The Jakarta Post, Fitrian Ardiansyah, Canberra | Monday, 5 December 2011 8:04 PM
The global climate change negotiations, underway from Nov. 28 to Dec. 9 in Durban, South Africa, once again undoubtedly highlight a fundamental question as to whether countries around the world will reach agreed solutions to tackle climate change.
It is also an appropriate event to assess the involvement of developing countries like Indonesia, and particularly to understand whether their involvement in this UN climate conference will significantly contribute to a successful outcome.
Durban, hosting the 17th session of the Conference of Parties (COP-17) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), will certainly pick up what has been left at last year’s UN climate change negotiations in Cancún, Mexico, and the subsequent inter-sessional meetings.
The big remaining challenge, however, is to see whether governments involved in Durban will build on the progress achieved in Cancún or withdraw from this promising path and allow short-term national interests to shroud the already exhaustive negotiations.
The Cancún Agreements represent key steps forward, forming the basis for the largest collective effort to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions with national plans captured formally at international levels under the banner of UNFCCC, in a mutually accountable way.
The Agreements, among other things, bring about the most comprehensive package ever agreed to by governments to help developing nations deal with climate change and lay the foundation to build their own sustainable futures.
The package encompasses finance (Green Climate Fund and fast-start financing), the Cancún Adaptation Framework, a Technology Mechanism (to support action on mitigation and adaptation, and speed up for low-emission economies) and a formal incorporation of REDD+ (stating clearly that it is not only about reducing emissions but also halting and reversing forest loss).
It is, therefore, critical for governments involved in the negotiations, especially Indonesia, to lock in the progress as stated in the Cancún Agreements and moreover push further for the agreements to be implemented.
Indonesia, as a resource-rich country striving to develop its economy, alleviate poverty and at the same time deal with climate change, has a lot at stake getting involved in these climate change negotiations.
For this country, for instance, it is critical to negotiate the further implementation of the Cancún Adaptation Framework, firstly in ensuring the establishment of the Adaptation Committee.
The establishment of this committee will send a strong signal to vulnerable countries affected by climate change, including Indonesia, that governments around the world are serious to help these countries confronting the increasingly dangerous impacts of climate change.
Indonesia needs to also work hard, with other parties, to negotiate and urge the realization of fast-start finance and Green Climate Fund.
The fast-start finance is pledges made by developed country parties to mobilize new and additional resources, amounting to US$30 billion for the period 2010-2012, to help mitigation and adaptation in developing countries.
The Green Climate Fund was decided in Cancún to support projects, programs, policies and other activities in developing countries using thematic funding windows.
With a short-term challenge of financial crisis being faced by a number of developed countries, negotiations on finance and its realization are highly likely to be difficult ones.
Indonesia and other developing countries thus have a challenging task to remind developed countries about their promise, the progress made in achieving the goal of this financing and procedures to access these resources.
Specific to the Green Climate Fund, it is necessary for Indonesia to work together with other tropical forest nations as well as like-minded countries to lobby for a special window for REDD+ under this fund.
REDD+ has been initiated and piloted in tropical forest nations such as Indonesia. In fact in this country the government has produced several policies and strategies to guide REDD+ development and implementation, including the introduction of the moratorium of new permits to convert forests and peatlands to other land uses.
Such policies, strategies and relevant regulations may not be sufficient to transform current land use changes and practices, which result in the reduction of deforestation.
Tackling deforestation involves different actors, sectors, as well as layers of governments. These entities are known to have competing interests over land use. Without the provision of clear incentives, it is a Herculean task to persuade them to change the patterns of land use in Indonesia.
A special window of funding for REDD+ at a global level would certainly provide more than a moral boost for tropical forest nations to advance their REDD+ development at a national level and on the ground.
Adding to already tough negotiations on finance, Indonesia and other developing countries are required to advocate parties at the Durban conference not to forget the importance of identifying the sources for long-term finance, which are needed to cut GHG emissions and to support adaptation efforts of vulnerable countries.
Climate change is going to be a long-term phenomenon and countries like Indonesia will indeed suffer if actions in mitigation and adaptation are formulated only for a short time frame. If there is no indication in which resources are allocated to fight climate change over a long period, reducing carbon emissions and creating a sustainable future will be merely a dream for global communities.
With discussions on the need for long-term commitments and actions on climate change, Durban is seen as crucial to produce an agreement or at least a convincing direction toward a second commitment period for the Kyoto Protocol.
The first commitment period of the Protocol, which regulates the commitment of developed countries to cut their GHG emissions, will end in 2012. Hence, it is urgent for Indonesia and other countries to achieve real progress on this matter.
The agreement on second commitment period to the Kyoto Protocol is not only important to demonstrate a strong commitment among developed countries in significantly reducing their emissions, but it can also help persuade big emerging economies and other countries to set out a clear mandate for a comprehensive legally binding
In Durban, the climate talks are at a crossroads, and governments, including that of Indonesia, and other parties have a lot of work to do to demonstrate to the world that they are serious about addressing dangerous climate change.
The costs of climate change, socially, environmentally and economically, are high and will be higher for the world and this country. A delay to act will prove costly.
Therefore, Indonesia’s delegations have no choice but to commit to continuous hard work and provide real leadership to guarantee a successful outcome in Durban’s climate negotiations.
The writer is a doctoral candidate at the Australian National University, and the recipient of the Australian Leadership Award and Allison Sudradjat Award.
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In addition, the US risks upending the critical step of launching the Green Climate Fund.