Indonesia mulls net-zero emissions target by 2070


Greenpeace activists wear penguin costumes and hold signs reading 'Climate is changing, the ocean ecosystem is threatened' during a protest in Jakarta on Feb. 9, 2020. - JP

JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/ANN): Indonesia is considering setting a net-zero emissions target by 2070 as part of its long-term strategy in the country’s fight against climate change.

During a press briefing on Friday (March 19), Environment and Forestry Ministry Climate Change Management Director General Ruandha Agung Sugardiman said reducing greenhouse gas emissions was a pressing matter as the climate crisis had exacerbated hydrometeorological natural disasters across the country.

“By 2050, we will start working toward the goal of net-zero emissions. Hopefully, Indonesia can reach the goal by 2070, ” Ruandha said.

The World Resources Institute (WRI) defines net-zero emissions, similar to climate neutrality, as the point when human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are balanced out by removing the gasses from the atmosphere. This process will take place after countries reduce their emissions to as close to zero as possible.

Countries that signed the Paris Agreement in 2015 agreed to limit warming to below 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius to prevent catastrophic impacts from the climate crisis.

Latest studies suggest that countries will need to reach a net-zero target for carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 in order to limit the warming below the agreed threshold.

Moreover, they will need to reach a net-zero target for all greenhouse gases by 2068 at the latest to realise the targets.

Three climate-mitigation scenarios Ruandha further explained that the 2070 net-zero emissions target was part of the three climate-mitigation scenarios that Indonesia would put in its long-term strategy, which will be submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) prior to this year’s climate summit, or COP26, in Glasgow, the United Kingdom, in November.

The most ambitious scenario -- the low carbon compatible (LCCP) scenario, which is closely compatible with the Paris Agreement targets -- aims to see the peak of carbon emissions in all sectors by 2030, with the forestry and land use sector providing a carbon sink that absorbs some of the emissions.

According to the ministry’s data, Indonesia emitted 1.86 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) in 2019. Half of the emissions came from the forestry sector, while the energy sector contributed 32 per cent of the total figure.

The low carbon scenario would require Indonesia to make more effort to reduce deforestation in order to make the forestry sector into a carbon sink by 2030 that absorbs emissions from the atmosphere.

The current goal only stipulates that the forestry and land use sector will reduce its emissions close to zero by 2050.

In the energy sector, Indonesia will need to make sure that renewables make up 32 per cent of the national energy mix apart from coal (39 per cent), gas (12 per cent) and oil (17 pe rcent).

This way, the emissions produced in the energy sector would peak by 2030 and drop to 550 million tonnes of CO2e by 2050.

While the latest National General Energy Planning (RUEN) road map stipulates that green energy should make up 31 per cent of the mix by 2050, analysts doubt that the country can reach the target with its current pace of renewable energy development.

Ruandha said the net-zero emissions target by 2070 was a realistic one for Indonesia based on several models tested by the Environment and Forestry Ministry and the Energy and Natural Resources Ministry.

“We need to consider our national development to maintain the economic growth at 5 to 7 pe rcent as well as the population size. The net-zero emissions target by 2070 is logical for us, ” the director general said.

He added that the ministry would finalise Indonesia’s long-term climate strategy and the updated nationally determined contribution (NDC), or the emissions-reduction pledge under the Paris Agreement, after completing a public discussion and dissemination.

After that, the ministry would submit the documents to the UNFCCC secretariat.

Indonesia decided to keep its previous pledge to reduce emissions by 29 per cent independently -- or 41 per cent with international assistance -- by 2030, a move previously slammed by climate activists as not being ambitious enough in contributing to fulfil the international commitment.

The updated NDC will stipulate additional information about the climate-adaptation elements and means of implementation that were not covered in the previous document.

Indonesia is the latest among the Paris Agreement signee countries to state its commitment or plan to commit to a net-zero emissions target as part of their long-term strategies to limit rising global temperatures.

The UNFCCC says that up to 30 countries have communicated their long-term strategy, with most aiming to have net-zero emissions by 2050.

China, the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter, is among the latest major actors to have announced its net-zero emissions target by 2060.

Climate observers, however, doubt the plan will be realised after seeing the East Asian nation’s latest five-year plan, which prioritises coal investment and provides little detail on emissions reduction.

While the Indonesian government has revealed little to no detail about its planned net-zero emissions goal, Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) climate campaigner Yuyun Harmono said the goal might be “too late”.

He called on the government to be more ambitious in meeting the target of keeping the global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius by, among other measures, making climate policy the main driver of every national policy.

WRI Indonesia senior manager for climate and forests Arief Wijaya said the decision on the net-zero emissions goal was a political decision but it also needed to be technically viable.

Arief said the 2070 net-zero emissions goal would still be viable in limiting global temperature rise under the agreed threshold, only if other big emitter countries could reach their net-zero emissions targets by 2050 or 2052 as suggested by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

He said that Indonesia could have decided to be more ambitious and set the net-zero emissions target earlier by 2050.

“But the country would need to peak its emissions before 2050, which is not possible with our current NDC.” Arief added that the net-zero emissions target should be supported with strong political commitment, leadership and long-term consistency on low-carbon development from the government, as well as adequate financial investment. - The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

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