Jayanty Nada Shofa, Jakarta – Indonesia is gearing up for the upcoming general elections in 2024 and the founder of a foreign policy think tank is urging candidates to put climate action on their agenda and to keep a watchful eye on the flow of what he called "coal money".
Hundreds of millions of Indonesians are slated to cast their votes in the historic elections next year. Having environmentalist politicians winning the 2024 election would set the stage for more pro-climate policies, amidst the worsening global warming and the country's reliance on coal.
"Climate transition requires bold decisions, hard debate, and painful adjustment," Dino Patti Djalal, the founder of the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia (FPCI), told a climate policy forum in Jakarta earlier this week.
"We need to have all of the presidential and political leaders in the 2024 [election] to have a progressive climate position," Dino said.
The former diplomat said he feared coal money would take the lion's share of campaign funding. He added: "There will be new coal power plants. The rich are getting a lot richer because coal prices have been going up."
"This means coal money will likely dominate election financing. That is the reality and there is no regulation about that, but how do you ensure the presidential candidates will make their climate positions cleanly without being affected by how much coal money they get?" Dino said.
Indonesia has set a goal to reach net zero emissions by 2060 or sooner.
Ideally, Indonesia should aim for 2050 net zero, according to Dino. He said, "[Chief Investment Minister] Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan told me that 'by 2060 or sooner', it could mean a lot earlier. So we hope that [target] could be revised."
Under the enhanced nationally determined contribution (NDC) document, Indonesia pledges to slash 31.89 percent of carbon emissions by 2030 on its own. The Southeast Asian country will increase this reduction target further to 43.2 percent with international assistance. FPCI calls for the government to aim for a 50 percent reduction instead by 2030.
"We hope the  emission reduction target will go up along with increased political commitments," Dino, who was a presidential spokesman during the tenure of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, told the forum.
The youth are pivotal in persuading politicians to be concerned about climate change. The General Election Commission (KPU) revealed earlier this month that up to 60 percent of the 2024 election voters would come from Gen Z and millennials (17-39 years old).
"[Candidates] believe that their position is based on votes and what the voters want. So if these youths care about the climate, the politicians will pay attention as well," Dino said.
The presidential and legislative elections are slated for Feb. 14, 2024. Indonesians will pick their local leaders on Nov. 27 the same year. The Home Affairs Ministry reported that the upcoming election would see 204 million voters.