Sylviana Hamdani, Jakarta – We are reaping what we have sown. As extreme weather and floods have besieged us lately, many have come to realize that climate change is real and we are the main culprit of so many environmental disasters happening on Earth.
"In Indonesia and many parts of the world, climate and hydrometeorological disasters at an unprecedented scale are happening, resulting in a great number of victims and financial losses," Leonard Simanjuntak, Greenpeace country director for Indonesia, said at the Goethe Institute Jakarta on Dec. 14, 2022.
The scale is predicted to keep on escalating if we do not rein in the main cause of the problem, which is carbon emissions.
Carbon dioxide emissions have increased exponentially from year to year. According to Ourworldindata.org, the world emitted six billion tonnes of CO2 in 1950. The number almost quadrupled in 1990 with the global carbon emissions amounting to 22 billion tonnes.
Last year, the world emitted 37.12 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions, precipitating global warming at an alarming level.
Indonesia also plays a part in this grave problem. In 2021, the country generated approximately 619.28 million tonnes of CO2, with Jakarta contributing a major portion of the emissions.
According to Jakarta's Transportation Transformation: Reviewing the Transport Sector's Zero Emission Target by 2050, a new study by Greenpeace Indonesia and the Resilience Development Initiative (RDI) launched at the Goethe Institute Jakarta on Dec. 14, 2022, the capital generated 22.8 million tonnes of CO2 in 2020, with fossil-fueled private vehicles making more than two-thirds of the amount.
"Jakarta contributes significantly to Indonesia's carbon emissions," Leonard said. "But the city, with its current status, fiscal capacity and political importance can [also] be a differentiator and role model for many other parts of Indonesia for its response to the climate crisis."
Jakarta has recently set a target for the city to reach net-zero emissions (NZE) by 2050. Various strategies have also been launched to achieve this ambitious aim.
But are they enough?
"It will be difficult for Jakarta to reach zero percent emissions," Elisabeth Rianawati, director of RDI, said during her presentation at the launch of the report.
Greenpeace Indonesia and RDI have developed four scenarios for lowering carbon emissions in Jakarta in their new study.
"Even in the most ambitious scenario that we've made for the study, emissions of the transportation sector [in Jakarta] will remain around 2 million tonnes of CO2 in 2050," Elisabeth explained. "And [this amount] can only be achieved if all vehicles in Jakarta have become electric, private vehicles are reduced to 4.4 million and the city's electricity is entirely sourced from renewable energy."
Currently, there are over 20.2 million private vehicles in Jakarta. Approximately, 16.1 million of them are motorcycles.
The NZE target might be hard to achieve, but the government and many different elements in the society are doing all that they can to reduce the city's carbon emissions.
Setting the priorities right
"We used to build more roads when we saw that private vehicles were increasing," Yayat Sudrajat, head of the road transportation division of Greater Jakarta's Transportation Agency (Dishub Jakarta), said. "But we've completely changed the approach. Today, we apply a transit-oriented development strategy, in which all transportation developments in the city are based on people's movements, instead of the number of vehicles."
Based on this strategy, the Transportation Agency has established four main priorities in Jakarta's transportation development, which are pedestrians and cyclists, public transportation, environmentally-friendly vehicles and fossil-fueled vehicles.
In line with these priorities, the city has recently widened many pedestrian-walks and furnished them with benches.
"A majority of sidewalks in Jakarta are wide and comfortable to walk on now," Bambang Prasetyo, chairman of the Movement for the Welfare of the Deaf in Indonesia (Gerkatin), said. "But the government should perhaps plant more trees [along the sidewalk] to provide more shade for pedestrians and people using wheelchairs, so that they won't feel tired when strolling long distances [on the sidewalks] during the day."
The city has also set up more than 300 kilometers of bike lanes along some of the main roads.
Many, however, see these bike lanes as ineffective as few cyclists are seen on them during weekdays. Some even suggest the city's government erase these bike lanes.
"It's ridiculous," Fahmi Saimima, chairman of the cyclist's community B2W Indonesia, said. "Bike lanes have to continue to exist and grow to give people the option to shift from motorized vehicles."
"The shift is not going to happen overnight," Fahmi added. "But when people see and feel the benefits [of cycling on the bike lanes], more and more are going to utilize them."
The government has also added more public transportation modes in Jakarta in order to encourage more people to shift from using private vehicles.
A couple of years ago, the city introduced Mikrotrans, a series of air-conditioned public minivans, which connect passengers to TransJakarta and MRT stations free of charge.
And starting from August 2022, commuters can travel by using a combination of MRT, LRT and TransJakarta buses by paying a single tarif integrasi (integrated fare) of Rp 10,000 per person.
The Transportation Agency has also set up a number of park-and-ride facilities at various locations in the city, in which commuters can leave their cars and motorbikes in the morning and continue their journey to the office on TransJakarta, MRT, LRT or Commuter Line (KRL) trains.
All these park-and-ride facilities apply an affordable flat rate of Rp 5,000 for cars and Rp 2,000 for motorbikes for the whole day.
"This is our push-and-pull strategy," Yayat of the Transportation Agency said. "We're trying to encourage people to shift to public transportation by logical thinking."
"When they see that public transportation is now just as comfortable as private vehicles, stress-free [as they don't have to deal with traffic jams] and also much cheaper, they will definitely choose public transportation," Yayat said.
For the push strategy, Jakarta plans to apply higher parking fees and electronic road pricing (ERP) on the main roads in the near future.
To lower emissions, TransJakarta is also upgrading its fleet with electric buses in stages. "Insya Allah [God's will], TransJakarta will operate all electric buses by 2030," Yayat said.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian government is planning to provide a total subsidy of 5 trillion rupiah to encourage people to change their fossil-fueled cars and motorbikes into electric vehicles.
But won't it cause more traffic jams in Jakarta?
"We're not worried about electric vehicles [causing more traffic jams in the city] at all," Yayat said, with a confident smile.
"With our strategies, public transportation will still be cheaper on a day-to-day basis. As Indonesians are generally very cost-sensitive, we believe they will still choose public transportation [over private electric vehicles]," he said.
City of collaborations
To lower carbon emissions in Jakarta, the city does not only have to improve its transportation system, but also its spatial plans.
"In order to lower emissions, Jakarta needs to be a compact city, in which all the important public facilities are located within 500 meters [from residential areas], so that people can easily walk or bike to reach them," Oswar Mungkasa, master planner at the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), said.
Bappenas, in collaboration with the city's government, is currently working on improving Jakarta's spatial plan.
To ensure the success of NZE in Jakarta by 2050, all stakeholders also need to commit and work together to reduce air pollution.
"Each [working] day, approximately 1.7 million people [from suburban areas] go to Jakarta for work in the morning and leave in the evening," Oswar said. "This huge number is almost the same as the entire population of Bandung. Can you imagine the carbon emissions results if the entire population of Bandung went to Jakarta every morning and returned in the evening?"
"Therefore, everyone [in Jakarta and its suburban areas] really have to work together to reduce the city's transportation emissions," he added.
The B2W community does their part by actively campaigning in schools to encourage more students to go to schools by bike.
"By December , we've conducted roadshows to 11 junior high schools for this purpose," Fahmi Saimima said.
B2W also collaborates with the Transportation Agency in supervising the bike lanes of some of the public schools in the city to ensure the students' safety as they bike to school.
Gerkatin also actively encourages their members to take part in lowering carbon emissions in the city.
"One of our members, an ojek [motorcycle taxi] driver, has changed his [fossil-fueled] motorbike to electric, as he wants to take part in reducing [air] pollution in the city," Bambang Prasetyo, chairman of Gerkatin, said.
Oswar lauded their efforts in reducing Jakarta's carbon emissions.
"Pak Yayat and the Greater Jakarta Transportation Management Agency [BPTJ] can't possibly achieve the [NZE] target by themselves," Oswar said. "Each of us has to be a game changer [and] a champion for improving the air quality in the city."