Indonesia’s Climate Plan “Inadequate”
By Paul Homewood
24 days to Paris, and still no climate plans from Saudi Arabia or Qatar. But let’s have a look at Indonesia, 12th biggest emitter of CO2.
Their INDC boils down to this.
Assuming a binding, global agreement, involving of course lots of aid money, they pledge to cut emissions by 41% from BAU by 2030. BAU, they explain, is 2881 GtCO2e in 2030.
So we can do a few simple sums.
A reduction of 41% would bring emissions down to 1699 MtCO2e, just 5% below 2005 levels.
However, this is not the whole story.
The Plan covers emissions from all sources, including LULUCF (Land Use, Land Use Change & Forestry). As they state, 63% of all emissions have arisen from the latter in recent years.
Although there is no detail in the Plan, it is inevitable that much of the emissions cut will derive from land use, ie cutting down less forest. While this may be laudable, the Carbon Tracker website has considerable reservations:
Major issues with deforestation data and emissions
While the Indonesian Government’s data shows relatively stable deforestation emissions for the last decade, independent scientific sources indicate a strong increase in deforestation over the same time period. This has happened despite the fact that Indonesia has, temporarily, (2010–2016), prohibited the clearing of primary forest and the conversion of peat lands.
While the Government BAU projections for the future show emissions from deforestation as constant – or slightly decreasing over time – this does not appear to reflect the reality on the ground at present, which points towards increasing deforestation. We find that extrapolating the trend of forest cover loss from one recent study which shows a 20% increase in deforestation annually between 2001 and 2012, results in projected emission levels of above 1.7 GtCO2/year from LULUCF by 2030, roughly twice as high as all emissions in the sector under the Indonesian Government’s BAU. A draft version of Indonesia’s INDC indicated plans to protect 12.7 million hectares of forest areas by designating it to social forestry, ecosystem restoration, conservation and sustainable use (Government of Indonesia 2015). The final INDC no longer mentions these plans.
If official estimates of deforestation have been so unreliable in the last few years, there can be little confidence about the accuracy of the data going forward.
Carbon Tracker also has concerns about the programme to develop coal power:
At the same time, however, Indonesia is pushing the construction of new coal-fired power plants to meet rapidly increasing electricity demand and make use of domestic coal resources. In total, the electricity generation capacity is expected to increase by 35 GW by 2019, of which a large share—20 GW—is expected to be met through new coal-fired power plants (Enerdata 2015). Our current policy projections already take into account a drastic increase of primary energy, with coal increasing strongly as well. The planned capacity is thus included in the scenario already.
An installed capacity of 20GW of coal-fired power plants will emit roughly 160 MtCO2e/a, and thus be responsible for a large share of the overall increase of emissions in the next years. The number reflects a share of 20% of total national emissions excl. LULUCF in 2020. Unless the coal plants are decommissioned before the end of their lifetime, they will continue to emit this amount throughout the next 50 years. Scenarios compatible with holding temperature increase below 2°C indicate that decarbonisation of the power sector is required by 2050 (CAT 2014). .
To supply the coal power plants with fuel, Indonesia aims at exploiting own reserves. In its INDC it also mentions, that the extraction of fossil fuels contributes to land use change emissions. This is an additional negative impact on Indonesia’s forests, which are already under much pressure.
Using this logic, an extra 35 GW will add 280 MtCO2e, to the 2005 figure of 666 MtCO2e. (To put this into perspective, total generating capacity from thermal fuels was 40 GW in 2012, according to the EIA.)
Coal consumption has already more than doubled since 2005 anyway, causing most of the increase of CO2 emissions from fossil fuels of 190 Mt, a rise of 53%. (Oil consumption is up 22% and gas 7%).
I think we can safely take it as a given that any coal power plants being built now will still be around long after 2030.
Business As Usual
According to Carbon Tracker, the BAU share of forestry in emissions in 2030 is just under 30%, about 860 MtCO2e. This would be 25% lower than 2005 levels.
However, using the same logic, emissions from fossil fuels would rise to 2020 MtCO2e by 2030, from 666 MtCO2e in 2005.
Although the Plan gives no detail on the relative emissions cuts in each sector, if we assume the pledged 41% reduction is across the board, fossil fuel emissions would still be 79% higher than 2005. This would represent an increase of 525 MtCO2e, and would appear to be consistent with the planned increase in coal power capacity.
Which brings us back to LULUCF. Carbon Tracker show below the massive gap that exists between what the government is saying about deforestation, and what the independent experts are.
If the independent experts are right, emissions in 2030 may be end up being much higher than Indonesia’s Plan suggests.
So, to sum up, it looks certain that fossil fuel emissions will increase substantially under the Plan, but will (maybe) be offset by a slowdown in the rate of deforestation back to the levels of the 1990’s.
In this respect, it is worth recalling that, since 1997 when the Kyoto Protocol was adopted, fossil fuel emissions have already more doubled in Indonesia, and will likely triple by 2030.
No wonder Carbon Tracker rate Indonesia’s Plan as “Inadequate”.