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Some Indonesians fear being left behind by energy transition: Report

Straits Times - January 26, 2024

Jakarta – Some Indonesians are concerned that the energy transition will affect their livelihoods, particularly those who rely on the fossil fuel sector.

Around 13 per cent of Indonesians living in South Sumatra, West Java and East Kalimantan have opted not to support the energy transition, according to a survey by consulting firm Markdata and climate advocacy group Yayasan Cerah.

More than 57 per cent of respondents who do not support the energy transition said they are concerned about losing their jobs, particularly those working in the oil, gas and coal industry. Others cast doubt on government commitments, while some believe the benefits of the energy transition are not distributed evenly among the population.

Respondents living in East Kalimantan showed the most concern, with more than 25 per cent of people surveyed from the region worried about losing their jobs, while the other two regions saw less than 10 per cent of respondents with the same concerns.

Cerah executive director Agung Budiono said in a statement on Jan 24 that East Kalimantan is well known as a province that relies on fossil fuels – especially coal – for its economy.

Meanwhile, more than a third of the respondents said an increase in solar power adoption would contribute to a higher unemployment rate.

According to a survey released by the Centre of Economic and Law Studies (Celios) in July 2023, the vast majority of 1,245 respondents supported plans to accelerate the closure of coal-fired power plants.

However, some unpaid family workers and unemployed people are less supportive, which, according to Celios, is likely because they "are concerned that the closure of (coal-fired power plants) could lead to increased electricity and food prices, negatively impacting their well-being".

Ms Dorothy Mei, project manager for Global Energy Monitor (GEM)'s Global Coal Mine Tracker, said last October that governments needed to make plans to ensure workers do not suffer from the energy transition.

"Coal mine closures are inevitable, but economic hardship and social strife for workers are not," she said, as quoted from Reuters.

GEM surveyed 4,300 active and proposed coal mine projects worldwide, with a total workforce of nearly 2.7 million. It discovered that over 400,000 workers are employed in mines that are set to close before 2035.

Despite doubts, 87 per cent of respondents in the survey by Markdata and Yayasan Cerah still favoured the energy transition, with half of them answering that there could be new jobs that emerge from the transition. More than 70 per cent of respondents also saw the energy transition as a way to reduce the negative impact of climate change.

Indonesia is planning to slash the targeted share of renewables in the national energy mix, a move seen by experts as a step back in the country's clean energy ambitions, while signalling its light-hearted attempt to part ways with fossil fuels. The new target will hover at between 17 per cent and 19 per cent by 2025, as proposed by the National Energy Council. Previously, the government had set a target of 23 per cent for the same period.

The planned revision also comes after Indonesia decided to lower its coal phase-out plans – partly because of a lack of funding – which were supposed to see the early retirement of several coal-fired power plants to make way for renewable energy development.

The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

Source: https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/some-indonesians-fear-being-left-behind-by-energy-transition-repor