Climate Change Deal?


Indonesia: fires threaten to send even modest climate ambitions up in smoke


Sonny Mumbunan, University of Indonesia

At the Paris climate negotiations, Indonesia will bring to the table a target of an unconditional 29% emissions reduction by 2030, increasing to 41% on condition of international assistance.

Indonesia’s emission reduction plan (or Intended Nationally Determined Contribution) is therefore slightly higher than its 2009 commitment to reduce emissions by 26% by 2020.

There are three problems with Indonesia’s INDC. The target is not ambitious; the plan is incoherent; and with the recent massive forest fires in Indonesia that have yet to be accounted for in the INDC it does not accurately reflect emissions for Indonesia.

Such a problematic INDC would affect the global efforts to adequately tackle climate change, since Indonesia is one of the biggest carbon emitters in the world. The forest fires have pushed the country into the top ranks of global greenhouse gas emitters.

Unambitious target

Each countries’ INDCs will determine whether the world can achieve a global target to reduce carbon emissions that can slow down global warming, limiting it to no more than 2℃ relative to the pre-industrial era.

Is Indonesia’s target ambitious enough so that when compared with other countries’ INDCs it can achieve this global target? Not really.

For Indonesia to meaningfully contribute to the global target, Indonesia’s emissions should be stable or decrease even when the nation’s economy grows. The latest assessment from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests this way of decoupling GDP growth from emissions growth to be ideal. However, Indonesia may find that difficult to do given that its economies depend on high emission sectors such as agriculture, forestry and energy.

At the moment, Indonesia does aim to decouple its GDP growth and emission rate increase, but only through relative decoupling, through which emissions rate increase is expected to be lower than GDP growth.

In relation to the global target as informed by climate science, the 29% emissions reductions target is not ambitious enough. Furthermore, with the depth of Indonesia’s problems, especially with the recent forest fires, Indonesia’s target should be higher.

Incoherent plan

Indonesia’s climate plan is not coherent. There are no proper relations between different actions, sectors and parts of planning process such as between the allocated budget and mitigation actions.

The incoherence is largely due to a problematic process in producing the INDC.

The 29% target was first produced by the Indonesia Development and Planning Board (Bappenas) using scientifically sound calculations. However, Bappenas was not participative in their process. They involved only a very limited circle of agencies and did not consult with regional governments, the private sector and NGOs. Transparency was lacking in the process and modelling.

The advisory board for Indonesia’s ministry of environment and forestry who prepared the country’s INDC used the result of these calculations to produce the INDC document. The advisory board’s process was more participative. They included more stakeholders to take part in their climate plan.

However, they took the number that Bappenas produced – 29% emissions reductions – from its modelling, and stripped the relations, assumptions and data that Bappenas used to come to that number. As a result, the INDC document entails rich inputs but these are not always connected and even contradict each other.

Forest fires

With these problems, Indonesia’s INDC should be revised. With the recent massive forest fires in Indonesia, the INDC should be more honest and include realistic simulations of peat-land management.

Deforestation and land use activities are Indonesia’s largest source of carbon emissions. Indonesia is the top exporter of palm oil. To expand plantations of oil palms, farmers often use the slash-and-burn techniques to open new plantations. With this year’s El Niño, with temperatures rising above the 1997 levels, the fires were some of the worst of recent times. At one point daily emissions in Indonesia surpassed emissions from the entire US economy as a result of the fires.

The fires will become a critical pretext for the Paris negotiations. They may increase the level of ambition of countries to do more. The issue of forest fires may also spur other countries to help more because the scale of the impact was enormous both for Indonesia and the international community.

Indonesia’s position in the negotiations

At the moment Indonesia seems yet to be prepared for the Paris 2015 negotiations. We have yet to see a specific agenda that Indonesia would like to bring to the table.

This is partly due to the recent organisational change after president Joko Widodo took office last year.

Under former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the focal point for climate change negotiations was the National Council for Climate Change (DNPI). This council often prepared working groups to discuss different negotiation themes, such as financing, transfer of technology, adaptation, and others, ahead of the conference.

Joko Widodo merged the council into the Ministry of Environment and Forestry under a new directorate that oversees climate change. This ministry established the aforementioned Advisory Board.

With the new structure, the new directorate and advisory board did not have enough time to organise working groups that are able to undertake proper preparations. As a result, just days before the negotiation, we have yet to have a so-called Indonesia position for various issues on climate change action.

The Conversation

Sonny Mumbunan, Economist and research scientist at the Research Centre for Climate Change, University of Indonesia

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Timeline: UN climate negotiations


Marc Hudson, University of Manchester

1988 marked the first mainstream call for climate action from scientists. It’s been a bumpy ride over nearly 30 years to the upcoming UN climate summit in Paris.

To navigate the timeline below, hover your mouse on the right and click on the arrow to move forward (and on the left to move back).


https://cdn.knightlab.com/libs/timeline3/latest/embed/index.html?source=1qhY80d6v4ZMVU-PDSyZDjU7UCHAbdmYEnrvgfu3ygMo&font=Default&lang=en&initial_zoom=2&height=650

The Conversation

Marc Hudson, PhD Candidate, Sustainable Consumption Institute, University of Manchester

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

A Paris summit for climate and peace?


David Holmes, Monash University

With so much build-up to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) in Paris, the pressure not to fail is as great as it has ever been. This conference of parties (COP) follows the Kyoto Protocol in achieving agreements that are binding for the 190 countries represented. As it comes at a time that is dire for our climate future, an urgent and momentous outcome is needed.

As of Monday there will be more than 40,000 delegates at the conference. I will be reporting from the conference venue at the Parc des Expositions in Le Bourget, just to the northeast of Paris.

The media interest in this summit is greater than it has ever been. Six-thousands journalists applied to go; only 3000 places are available. What such interest signifies is the sense that Paris will provide a collective recognition that we are drawing so close to losing control over the climate.

The conference will not by itself create the change that is needed to address climate change, except in one respect: it rallies every nation to get on board in what has to be a collective effort. The question here is: how sincere will each nation be in keeping their promises?

The two degree guardrail is advanced as a measure of the fact that anything more and humans lose control over being able to do anything about climate change. But for more radical climate assessments, to aim for a guardrail that is so close to UN-defined consensus limits is high risk – especially when considering that the pledges that have been made by participating nations around the world are pointing toward 2.7℃.

And, as had transpired, the importance of the conference has not been held hostage to the terrorist events of mid-November. Instead some have sought to point out that the climate summit that millions will march for this weekend is also a peace summit.

There is, after all, no way that humans are going to peacefully co-exist when dealing with so many new forms of existential threats, extreme weather, climate migration, food shortages – all of which become destabilising threat multipliers for military conflict also.

According to this thesis, a circle was actually closed by the terror attacks of November 13. That is, climate-induced drought in Syria led to civil war, which has led to a power vacuum, providing a base for Islamic State to conduct training for international terrorism, such as was witnessed in Paris.

Paris will be different from Copenhagen in at least three respects.

First, all of the nations represented at the conference have been asked to submit “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” in advance. So far 167 of the participating nations have done this, so there is already a baseline commitment to work with, and a way of evaluating the collective impact of such pledges as a basis for negotiation.

Second, there is the fact that since Copenhagen, climate change has been mainstreamed. As Erwin Jackson from the Climate Insitute has put it:

Climate change is not just an issue that is discussed in environment ministries any more, its now being discussed in treasuries. It is being discussed in defence departments.

Third, there is the enormous renewables boom since Copenhagen. The Climate Council in Australia has just launched its latest report:

A Whole New World: Tracking the renewables boom from Copenhagen to Paris

The report details how, since Copenhagen, the number of nations locking into renewable energy targets has doubled. Nearly five million new jobs worldwide have been created since that time. The cost of solar power modules has fallen 75% in that time and wind power dipped by 30%.

This all adds up to countries being able to back their pledges because an alternative to fossil fuel in now available. And around the world, US$270 billion in renewable investments were made just last year, according to a UN report.

Such investment lags behind annual investment in fossil-fuel energy industries, but the difference is that such investment is in year-on-year decline. An open letter will be published today in New Scientist and The Guardian, signed by world-leading economists and scientists who have called for a moratorium on the building of new coal mines.

At the same time, the fossil fuel industry has a toe-hold on the Paris conference itself. GDF Suez (now Engie), the co-owner of Victoria’s Hazelwood coal mine, one of Australia’s dirtiest coal mines, is one of the event’s fossil fuel “sponsors”.

I will be interested to learn, while at the conference, precisely what such companies gain from being sponsors, in an age where greenwash can dramatically mask the sincerity of the promises that nations are about to make to change the world.

The Conversation

David Holmes, Senior Lecturer, Communications and Media Studies, Monash University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.