Indonesia’s climate plan lands amid flurry of pledges

One of world’s top carbon polluters through deforestation commits to 29% cut in emissions as UN deadline draws near

Cleared peatland, Indonesia (Flickr/CIFOR)

Cleared peatland, Indonesia. Emissions from land use account for 63% of its carbon footprint (Flickr/CIFOR)

By Alex Pashley

Indonesia, the world’s sixth largest major emitter of greenhouse gases, announced on Thursday it would reduce emissions 29% compared to current forecasts of emissions growth.

Jakarta’s submission is significant. It is one of the last top emerging economies to unveil its climate plan ahead of a Paris summit in December which seeks to cap global warming to 2C.

Albania, Madagascar and Mongolia also released pledges as a UN October 1 deadline looms. Brazil and India’s plans are imminent, Climate Home understands.

Indonesia said carbon cuts could rise to 41% on business-as-usual levels on finance and technological help from rich countries.

“Given its pivotal geographic position in the global ocean conveyor belt (thermohaline circulation), and its extensive tropical rainforests, with high biodiversity, high carbon stock values and energy and mineral resources, Indonesia recognizes its role to play in combatting global climate change,” the UN communication said.

Nirarta Samadhi, country director at US think tank, the World Resources Institute welcomed the submission as “encouraging”, and highlighted the more accurate estimate of a baseline against which emission reductions will be judged.

But the country had to be more transparent on how it would carry out the goals, he said.

“On the whole, Indonesia’s climate plan is promising but more assurances are needed that the country will stay the course.”

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In the plan, Indonesia said it would strengthen efforts to conserve its carbon-rich forests and peat lands, whose clearance for agriculture and mining makes up the bulk of its emissions at 63%.

Smog caused from burning of peatland in Indonesia has blanketed parts of Signapore and Malaysia in recent weeks, forcing schools to shut and cancelling flights.

Indonesia pointed to plans to restore land and a moratorium on opening up primary forests and peat lands over the period 2010-16, but forest continues to make way for plantations.

Jane Wilkinson, director of the Climate Policy Initiative’s Indonesia programme saw the pledge “very much targeting a domestic audience”, rather than intended to spur other countries to raise ambition.

The plan was somewhat vague on conservation, though the developing country had greatly improved its capacity to measure emissions and could clarify finer policies later, she said.

“It’s setting signs Indonesia is undertaking what needs to be done,” she said.

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The government said it forecasts economic growth of at least 5% a year which will cut rates of poverty from 11% to 4% within ten years.

The world’s fourth most populous country said cleaner energy sources would make up 23% of its needs by 2025, and put in “on the path to de-carbonization”.

A rapid expansion of coal-fired power generation made this unchanged target “too ambitious”, the International Energy Agency warned in February. The numbers “reflect political priorities rather than achievable targets,” it said.

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