Restore Forests: Restore Life
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Jakarta – Two giant banners were dropped from Jakarta’s most iconic statues this morning: the Aerospace Statue at Pancoran in South Jakarta, and the Welcome Statue which stands at the heart of the city at the Hotel Indonesia Roundabout. The urgent messages, addressed to President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) call on him to drop dirty coal energy and save Indonesia’s remaining forests.
According to Greenpeace these two issues namely energy and forests must be made a priority by the newly-sworn-in President Jokowi and his second term cabinet, if Indonesia is to truly stem the worsening climate crisis.
Indonesia as an archipelago nation is uniquely vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Sea level rise, extreme drought, flash floods, crop failures, tropical storms, and deadly air pollution are conditions that will become the new normal in Indonesia, if human-induced climate change is not addressed urgently.
Deforestation and the massive use of fossil fuels are the biggest cause of greenhouse gas emissions in Indonesia. Deforestation rates averaging 600,000 hectares / year have resulted in a total 3 million ha lost during 2014-2018, according to the government’s own data. Meanwhile fossil energy, particularly coal, still dominates the national energy mix at 58%, hampering the transition to renewable energy. This is despite Indonesia ratifying the Paris Agreement, and committing to reduce carbon emissions by 29%, or 41% with international assistance, by 2030.
“In 2015, President Jokowi promised to resolve forest and land fires within three years. His government has entered its second term, but the annual forest fires crisis persists,” said Arie Rompas, Greenpeace Indonesia Forest Campaigner. Greenpeace Indonesia’s analysis of official government burn scar data shows that more than 3.4 million hectares of land burned between 2015 and 2018. Company-controlled land with the largest total burnt area, dominated by oil palm and pulp plantations, have not received significant civil and administrative sanctions.
“The government is failing to deliver on its promise of law enforcement, so forest destroyers are largely untouched by the law,” said Arie. “While the 2015-2019 National Medium-Term Development Plan (RPJMN) mandates a gradual reduction in coal production, the Jokowi Government in the first period has even boosted coal production to reach more than 500 million tons in 2019,” said Tata Mustasya, Climate Campaigner for Greenpeace Indonesia. “If we want to seriously commit to fighting the climate crisis, the Jokowi Government must immediately turn to the use of renewable energy. Safe and clean energy is good for the environment, good for society, and good for the economy and the future of Indonesia,” concluded Tata.
Coal as an economic sector is strongly influenced by cronyism and is very closely associated with political corruption. After the implementation of regional autonomy, national and regional political elites utilizing their power to enter the coal business. As a result, the number of mining business permits rose from 750 in 2001 to 10,000 in 2010, 40% of which were coal businesses. This has caused massive environmental damage while political funding from the coal oligarchy has damaged Indonesia’s democracy.
Political elites not only entered the coal mining sector but also the downstream sector, by building coal-fired power plants. One of the corruption cases successfully revealed by the KPK is the Riau 1 power plant case involving Golkar politicians and Social Minister Idrus Marham.
“The coal oligarchy is a perfect portrait of corrupted reform. Political elites use the disguise of reforms to carry out political corruption in the coal business, both upstream and downstream. One of the concrete steps that must be taken by Jokowi today is to clean his cabinet of the coal oligarchy,” Tata said.
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