Indonesia can avoid being 'global villain' at Paris climate talks: Activists

Environmental groups said it is time Indonesia paid more attention to the issue of climate change, and the United Nations climate conference in Paris next week can be a good starting point.
Saifulbahri Ismail Channel NewsAsia 26 Nov 15;

JAKARTA: A group of environmental activists has urged the Indonesian government to work towards zero deforestation by 2020, and 100 per cent renewable energy use by 2050, in a briefing paper ahead of climate change talks in Paris.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said he would attend the COP21 conference starting Dec 7, a move the Community & Ecologically Based Society for Law Reform has lauded.

"We feel it was a good decision, because Indonesia would like to see how serious the government is in tackling this issue or make a contribution to efforts to take care of this earth,” said the group's head of advocacy, Sisilia Nurmala Dewi.

“If the government continues to do what it does, it will become a global villain. Indonesia's attendance is also important because it not only has the potential to make a big contribution to combat climate change, but Indonesia's one of the countries susceptible to its effects,” she said.

Indonesia at one point this year topped the world's list of greenhouse gas emitters, a result of the forest fires in Sumatra, Kalimantan and Papua. But before the fires, the country was already sitting in fifth position.

LEADERSHIP ROLE

Environmentalists said Indonesia has a chance to tell the international community how it plans to tackle forest fires, and significantly reduce its carbon footprint.

Kurniawan Sabar, a campaigner from the Indonesian Forum for the Environment, said he believes the country can play a leadership role at the conference.

“It’s not only to talk about Indonesia's position, but how the Government can demand (that) all countries, delegations and annex 1 countries make a stronger commitment, and also how Indonesia can influence countries to mitigate climate change,” he said.

Indonesia has pledged to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 29 per cent by 2030 from business as usual levels, or by as much as 41 per cent with international support.

Yet, activists have criticised the government for submitting a pledge that lacks clear baseline references, or a means to fulfil the targets.

But observers like Tomoyuki Uno from the United Nations Development Programme said it is a challenging and complex problem for Indonesia. “I think it’s quite difficult to come up with concrete targets," he said, "because for one thing do we have a common definition of forests, or land to be conserved?”

“So, immediately there is a problem of definition, there is a lack of maps, and there is the uncertainty of future events like El Nino and massive forests fires.”

The Paris talks are another chance for countries to agree on a long-term plan to tackle climate change. It could also give Indonesia an opportunity to become a role model, to clear the air and help the world to see beyond 2020, when the current commitments expire.

- CNA/jb

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