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Jakarta talks tough over climate-change summit

Jakarta — Indonesian officials are convinced that the country has plenty to gain from a highly anticipated global conference on climate change to be held in Paris in December, although they are aware that tough, politically charged negotiations lie in store at the convention.

A firefighter tries to extinguish a peatland fire in a palm oil plantation in Pelalawan, Riau province, on Sumatra. The topic of fire management will feature at international talks on reducing carbon emissions.

PHOTO: REUTERS

A firefighter tries to extinguish a peatland fire in a palm oil plantation in Pelalawan, Riau province, on Sumatra. The topic of fire management will feature at international talks on reducing carbon emissions.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Jakarta — Indonesian officials are convinced that the country has plenty to gain from a highly anticipated global conference on climate change to be held in Paris in December, although they are aware that tough, politically charged negotiations lie in store at the convention.

“The COP21 (21st Conference of Parties) is a make-or-break moment for the world because this is where we decide on what to do, starting 2020, to prevent extinction (of life on earth),” Mr Rachmat Witoelar, President Joko Widodo’s special envoy for climate change, said this week.

“Just like what (United Nations Secretary General) Ban Ki-moon said, this generation is the first and last generation that can overcome the harming effects of climate change. If we fail to do so, it’s game over for us.”

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is set to host the COP21, where countries are expected to come up with a legally binding and universal agreement to keep global warming below 2°C.

Before the conference, each country has been asked to submit its post-2020 intended climate actions, a document known as its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC).

In the run-up to the Paris conference, negotiators from all nations will meet for the last time next week (Oct 19-21) in Bonn, Germany, to develop an agreement based on the submitted INDCs that would be applicable to all.

Ms Nur Masripatin, director general for climate change mitigation at the Environment and Forestry Ministry, said Indonesia will send 24 representatives to the three-day meeting in Bonn, which she dubbed “the real negotiating period”.

Indonesia is ready to use its “plentiful ammunition” when navigating “politically charged” INDC discussions with any country that might try to scuttle a global agreement in Paris, added Mr Rachmat.

“We have our allies and we will ask them to help us out in communicating with some countries that have conflicting views (in the negotiations),” he said, without giving names.

“I’m cautiously optimistic that the (Paris meet) will benefit Indonesia and also the world, so long as all nations agree to implement their INDCs.”

On Sept 24, Indonesia officially submitted its INDC to the UNFCCC.

The country has announced it will cut emissions by 29 per cent by 2030, a 3 per cent increase from its previous commitment. With international help, Indonesia is aiming for a reduction of 41 per cent.

To reach the target, the country will focus on the energy sector, as the country aims for renewable energy to make up 23 per cent of the nation’s total energy mix by 2025.

Even though forest and land fires would be left out of the negotiating process because these do not happen in all countries, Ms Nur warned the haze crisis could greatly affect the government’s performance later on, when the ministry evaluates the impact of the highly polluting smog on the country’s efforts to cut carbon emissions.

The topic of forest and land fires will be included in the talks on reducing carbon emissions, she added.

Mr Sarwono Kusumaatmadja, chairman of Indonesia’s steering committee on climate change, called on the Indonesian government to help the country’s negotiating team for the Paris talks by immediately improving its management of peatlands, which are often set on fire to make way for plantations and contribute to the thick haze that has been polluting the air in large parts of Indonesia as well as Malaysia and Singapore for months.

“Peatland burning has contributed 63 per cent to Indonesia’s carbon emissions,” Mr Sarwono said.

“If we can show the world we can manage these peatland fires, this will boost Indonesia’s bargaining power at the COP21,” he said. THE JAKARTA GLOBE

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