A. Muh. Ibnu Aqil, Jakarta – As the recently updated draft of Indonesia's climate action commitments under the Paris Agreement awaits government approval, activists worry the reworked pledge might not be ambitious enough for one of the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases.
The Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) is a pledge made under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to cut down on emissions in accordance with the Paris Agreement goals of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
After inviting environmental groups, experts and public officials in February to weigh in on its reworked NDC pledge, Indonesia decided to keep its previous pledge to reduce emissions by 29 percent independently – or 41 percent with international assistance – by 2030, a carbon copy of the target outlined in its first NDC submission in 2016.
The international community was supposed to convene again to review its commitments at the 26th session of the UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP) in Glasgow, Scotland, in November, but the swift and sudden spread of COVID-19 pushed the summit back to 2021.
Although most countries including Indonesia are heavily focused on the viral outbreak response, "there is still much to do" in preparation for the next COP meeting next year, said Nur Masripatin, senior adviser to the environment and forestry minister.
Nur said the ministry must still prepare an environmental road map document and legal framework, but also help other agencies prepare in accordance with the pledges outlined in the rehashed NDC. She said her office was also preparing the country's Long-Term Strategy for Low-Carbon Climate Resilience (LTS-LCCR) to target net zero emissions by 2050.
Even with a lot on its plate, Nur said the government was expecting progress on some of its NDC target pledges, particularly in the energy sector where the B30 biodiesel mandate was launched.
Under the B30 program, the government will impose the mandatory use of 30 percent oil palm-based blended biodiesel fuel to help lower fossil fuel imports and increase foreign exchange. It is also planning to make 50 percent blended biodiesel fuel mandatory by 2021.
The energy sector is poised to become Indonesia's second-largest contributor of greenhouse gas reductions, making up 11 percent of all targeted reductions after the forestry sector (17.2 percent).
Greenpeace Indonesia has criticized the updated NDCs as not ambitious enough, underscoring the decision not to increase the emissions reduction target. Its climate and energy researcher, Dila Isfandari, suggested that any failure to do so would be reflected in more tangible consequences.
"Indonesia won't be able to save its people from the climate crisis [even with the current NDCs]. Even a rise of 1 degree Celsius in global temperatures drastically increased the frequency of hydrometeorological disasters," Dila told The Jakarta Post.
Government data even confirms this trend. According to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), the rising trend of natural disasters has continued from year to year, from 1,967 cases in 2014 to 3,721 cases in 2019.
According to the Climate Action Tracker, a website that analyzes government climate actions and measures them against the Paris Agreement goals, Indonesia's current NDCs will be "highly insufficient" as with it global warming would reach 3 to 4 degree Celsius, above the 1.5 degree Celsius threshold.
A World Resources Institute study in 2015 suggested that, if Indonesia continues implementing existing measures, its 2030 carbon dioxide emissions from the land use and energy sectors will overshoot the target associated with the country's unconditional commitment to a 29 percent reduction.
"Reducing emissions to meet Indonesia's conditional target of a 41 percent reduction below business-as-usual levels would require even stronger efforts, including extending the [...] forest moratorium, restoring degraded peatland, implementing energy conservation programs, and pursuing mitigation measures for other sectors and gases," WRI researchers wrote in the study.
The ministry was advised not to reduce its emissions reduction target after a public consultation in February with environmental groups and other stakeholders, including the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry.
"The important principle is that the updated NDC must progress beyond existing commitments, meaning that we aren't allowed to lower our ambitions to reduce emissions," Nur said in a virtual discussion on Monday.
Environmental studies scholar Gusti Anshari of Tanjungpura University said that the updated NDCs will, even if approved, require new regulations to be passed before they can be implemented.
In the meantime, he said, the government should figure out a way to "attain our NDC target, whether it be mitigation or adaptation".