Jakarta, 20 October 2023 – The transfer of the ASEAN leadership baton to Laos marks the end of Indonesia’s leadership in the ASEAN region. A number of milestones such as cooperation with external non-ASEAN parties, as well as several opportunities for cooperation between ASEAN member countries are a good note. However, this good record has not been matched by an increasing commitment to curbing the rate of climate change, the impacts of which are increasingly being felt.
In a Public Discussion entitled “Reflecting on Indonesia’s Leadership in ASEAN 2023: Towards a Regional Frontrunner in Climate and Energy Transition Issues”, Wira Agung Swadana, Green Economy Program Manager of the Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR), stated that during Indonesia’s leadership period, cooperation or action was agreed upon by ASEAN member countries are still mainly infrastructural.
“The results of the 2023 ASEAN Summit and other energy and climate-related meetings can be seen that there is still a lack of focus on renewable energy issues. “For example, there is no joint commitment to increase the development of a cleaner solar energy or hydropower ecosystem,” said Wira.
Apart from the ecosystem for renewable energy, Wira also said that several issues had ‘eluded’ the attention of ASEAN high-ranking officials, such as the issue of critical minerals and low-carbon and sustainable electric transportation.
Executive Director of the Indonesia Research Institute for Decarbonization (IRID), Moekti Handajani (Kuki) Soejachmoen, explained the phenomenon of the high contribution of emissions from the energy sector in ASEAN countries.
“Energy is an engine for development, so if development still uses energy procurement patterns with a business-as-usual scheme (high fossil-ed), emissions will definitely increase significantly. On the one hand, all ASEAN member countries need to carry out development but must control their emissions,” explained Kuki.
Kuki then added that the role of technology is needed to enable development to continue and keep the amount of emissions released low. The use of this technology will have financial consequences.
By looking at this problem, Kuki emphasized that it is important for ASEAN as a regional unit to develop a comprehensive strategy to achieve the NDC targets for each country and encourage the achievement of Net Zero Emissions. From this strategy, mitigation actions can be grouped that can be carried out alone, those that require international financial support, those whose emission reduction units can be sold and those that require additional purchase of emission reduction units.
IESR Energy and Climate Diplomacy Coordinator, Arief Rosadi, highlighted ASEAN’s tendency to seem slow in taking strategic diplomatic positions, thus creating various gaps such as institutional gaps, ambition gaps, implementation gaps and participation gaps. According to him, Indonesia can use its position to strengthen its climate and energy diplomacy and contribute to narrowing gaps in ASEAN.
“Increasing climate ambition in strengthening Indonesia’s climate and energy diplomacy strategy is a modality for Indonesia to encourage the same thing in other countries at regional, bilateral and multilateral levels. Apart from that, fixing the gap can be done by encouraging the resolution of the gap at the regional level in ASEAN’s internal processes,” added Arief.