Indonesia’s President-Elect Has a Good Climate Policy, but Will He Implement It?

The 2024 Presidential election is the fifth general election in Indonesia. Voters elected a President and a Vice President on 14 February 2024. The elections will also choose parliamentary and local representatives. The presidential elections occur once in a five-year tenure in Indonesia.

This year’s election is especially important as it will mark the first change in leadership in 10 years. The current president, Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, served the maximum two terms in office. During his tenure, President Jokowi supported Indonesia’s commitment to sustainability and reducing carbon emissions and monitored the deforestation rate while implementing forest and mangrove reforestation policies. He recognized Indonesia’s tremendous green energy potential and recently inaugurated the largest floating solar power plant in Southeast Asia. The climate policies enacted under his leadership include a moratorium on forest conversion into other land uses, peatland restoration, renewable energy development, reduction of illegal logging, plastic waste reduction, and forest fire prevention.

This year, there are three presidential and vice candidates, including a former military commander, a one-time academic, and a self-proclaimed “man of the people.” The candidates are 1) Prabowo Subianto, a 72-year-old former military strongman and Indonesia’s current defense minister. 2) Ganjar Pranowo is the 55-year-old former governor of Central Java and is a member of the Indonesian Democratic Party, a secular nationalist political party. 3) Anies Baswedan, the former governor of Jakarta, is an independent and “opposition” candidate in the election. The 54-year-old was schooled in the United States before entering academia and serving as education minister.

Mr. Prabowo Subianto supports Jokowi’s initiative to make Indonesia one of the world’s top five largest economies by 2045 by supporting ongoing infrastructure projects, including moving the capital from Jakarta to the purpose-built city of Nusantara on the island of Borneo. Prabowo also has plans to build three million new homes in rural, coastal, and urban areas and launch a free lunch program for schoolchildren in a policy designed to combat stunting. Mr. Ganjar Pranowo is running the election campaign focusing on improving ordinary lives through the broader distribution of social assistance under a program known as KTP Sakti. They have also pledged to raise salaries for civil servants, teachers, and lecturers. Mr. Anies Baswedan has committed to advocating for opportunities for small company owners to create more jobs in Indonesia.

The results so far are signaling the win of Prabowo Subianto, who will continue to support the already existing climate policies enacted by President Jokowi. Mr. Prabowo’s support for transitioning away from coal power clashes with his endorsement of a ban on raw nickel exports, which aims to foster a domestic battery-making industry. Processing nickel requires significant energy, often sourced from coal power plants, leading to increased greenhouse gas emissions. To resolve this conflict, his administration must prioritize sustainable energy alternatives, such as renewables, for nickel processing and promote energy efficiency measures in processing facilities.

Given the relatively small agendas of the three candidates and the fact that they’ve all generally pledged continuity and served as governors or cabinet members, it’s not a particularly substantial shift from Jokowi’s initiatives. However, some Indonesians feel that regardless of who wins, it will likely be a business-as-usual scenario, with slow progress toward implementing climate policies.

This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Indonesia Country Manager Netra Naik.

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