Leading Emission Reduction Challenges: (a) Deforestation; (b) Problems implementing existing climate change policies and programs
Current Greenhouse Gas Emission Levels
Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions are closely linked to its land use and forestry. Between September and October of 2015, large amounts of stored carbon were released in Southeast Asia from fires in forests and peatlands. More than half of these fires came from peatlands. This period had an average emission rate of 11.3 Tg CO2 per day during this time period. This average emission rate exceeded the entirety of the European Union; 8.9 Tg CO2 per day. 97% of the total emissions from this period – 227 ± 67 Tg C. Much of these emissions came from south of Kalimantan, the southeastern provinces of Sumatra, and Papua. El Niño’s dry weather and droughts aggravated these fires.
Emission Reduction Challenges
Although Indonesia will not experience El Niño in 2016—and therefore the drought will not be as severe during Indonesia’s dry season—the destruction of Indonesian carbon sinks has continued in 2016. In the 2015 period and now, palm oil production and other practices that destroy forests and peatlands are largely responsible. Although this same period should not be as severe as last year’s, the dry season will likely still result in massive greenhouse gas-emitting fires. This trend will persist unless there is major intervention in fires and enforcement of measures to protect environmental destruction.
President Widodo has called for a 5-year moratorium on new palm oil plantation construction and any existing concessions which would threaten forests. This moratorium is to be issued in August. This is coupled with a 2011 moratorium on permits to clear forests and peatlands. This 2-year moratorium has been extended twice and is still active. The government will use the One Map policy—the program that creates a single reference map of allowed land use—to ensure the policy does not conflict with other policies in areas such as mining and agriculture. Widodo plans to encourage existing plantations to produce palm oil more productively on the sites they have and wants to invest in further research into how to make palm oil sustainable and less environmentally destructive. For preventing fires in the coming months, the Integrated Forest Fire Taskforce in Riau (one of the most vulnerable provinces to fires and the most major palm oil producing province) will be charged with battling the blazes and the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) will also be fighting fires. Under Indonesia’s 2011 National Action Plan to Reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions, each province must submit a Regional Action Plan of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (RAD-GRK). Of the 33 plans, only 8 have an adaptation plan.
One of the major hurdles with the moratoriums is ensuring enforcement, especially among slash-and-burn farmers and those illegally destroying carbon sinks. Identification of forest fires is also difficult, especially when they occur far from occupied areas. It is therefore necessary that the government and other actors closely track forests and carbon sinks using satellite data to ensure enforcement of moratoriums, the continued protection of forests, and that fires are identified and dealt with. The government must also enforce provincial commitments to reducing carbon emissions and encourage all provinces to adopt a plan of adaptation. No one government policy can encompass the emissions sources of the entire country, so they must be concerned with holding provinces accountable to their commitments and plans.
—Submitted by Climate Change Country Manager Tristan Grupp
Nature study on 2015 September to October emissions: http://www.nature.com/articles/srep26886
Riau and deforestation: http://www.eco-business.com/news/15-fire-linked-firms-escape-prosecution-in-indonesias-riau/
Moratorium: http://www.theborneopost.com/2016/07/21/indonesia-moratorium-to-include-existing-plantations/ and http://www.indonesia-investments.com/news/todays-headlines/palm-oil-industry-indonesia-five-year-moratorium-on-new-concessions/item7006
Submitted by Indonesia Country Manager Tristan Grupp