Learning from the US How to Seize the Climate Opportunity

Jakarta, 13 September 2022 – To combat the climate crisis, our action today will determine the economic, and sustainability of mankind in the long run. The IPCC report has already told us that the remaining time we have to hold the global temperature at 1.5 degree Celsius is limited. Global commitment to address climate change has been pushed through international forums. 

After rejoining the Paris Agreement during the Biden – Harris administration, the United States (US) is actively encouraging global citizens to tackle climate change through policies and strategic planning. Recently, the US just released new regulations i.e Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to boost the utilization of clean energy technology. The US’s target is to reduce 50-52% of GHG emissions by 2030 and use 100% clean electricity by 2035 before being net-zero emission in 2050. 

Nathan Hultman, director of the Center for Global Sustainability University of Maryland, during a public lecture session in collaboration with the Office of the President of Indonesia, and the Institute for Essential Services Reform said that he believes that we can achieve the 1.5-degree level.

“We are surely making some progress and are still on the 1.5-degree track. But our work is not done. We have more work to do especially through policy,” Nathan said.

Nathan emphasizes the need for a multi-stakeholder approach in addressing climate emergencies through the energy transition. He explained that the national government is an important stakeholder in determining the energy transition. However, in energy transition we cannot rely solely on the national government since the idea of energy transition must be embraced by many actors including the sub-national level government and even the private sectors.

“For example, in the US during the Trump administration there are not so many things (climate policy) happening, but there is some progress at the sub-national level that pushes national policy in the upcoming administration,” he explained.

Realizing that most democratic countries have similar stakeholders, this ‘All in’ approach can be duplicated in other countries. Every country is different, but each of us has the opportunity to do more.

Playing a strategic role as a G20 leader this year, Indonesia has a critical point in achieving global climate goals. By proposing a more ambitious climate pledge, accelerating renewables into the system, and adopting EVs in massive numbers, Indonesia can inspire other countries to show concrete action in addressing the climate crisis.

Every country needs to figure out its strategic way to do the transition but learning from others is a need indeed. Global commitment to support funding for energy transition must be fulfilled to assist developing countries in running the transition smoothly.

Hageng Nugroho, the Executive Staff Office of the President of Indonesia emphasizes the role of global collaboration to achieve the net zero target.

“Indonesia pledge to be net zero on 2060, and in achieving it we encounter several obstacles from technology till funding. There are at least four things that must be done by a country to avoid the harsh effects of the climate crisis. First, comply the NDC target, encourage citizen and potential stakeholder to participate’, strengthen the global partnership, and boosting the green economy development,”

Hageng added that the most important point is ensuring that the commitment is manifested into action rather than staying at policy level only.

C20 Urges Utilities Companies in G20 to Implement Energy Transition

press release
From left to right: Vivian Lee (SFOC), Fabby Tumiwa (IESR), Federico Lopez De Alba (CFE), Dennis Volk (BNetza), Philippe Benoit (Columbia University) photo by IESR

Bali, 30 August 2022 – As the main contributor to GHG emissions in the energy sector, Civil of Twenty (C20) Indonesia urges power utility companies to set inevitable targets, and a clear climate mitigation roadmap to reach zero emission by 2050. Civil of Twenty (C20) Indonesia invited energy experts and representatives from G20 power utility companies to discuss and urge the long-term strategy proposed by these power utility companies to accelerate the clean energy transition in their respective countries so as to align with the 1.5C pathway.

Risnawati Utami, the Sous-Sherpa of C20 Indonesia, in her opening remarks emphasized the importance of Indonesia’s leadership to promote and engage all civil societies to influence the commitment and policy of the countries’ members to adopt the human rights principles and international cooperation in mitigating the climate risks.

“The role of international cooperation recognizes the government’s responsibility to work together internationally, to urge implementation plans and strategies to reduce climate risks,” said Utami in the webinar of C20 titled “Role of G20 Power Utilities in Climate Mitigation Efforts”.

The COP27 High-Level Champion, Mahmoud Mohieldin stated about 800 million people in the world are still living without electricity access. He said that solutions to overcome the energy problem and mitigate the climate crisis are the availability of adequate policy, effective implementation, localization and financing.

“The Paris Agreement needs to be aligned and integrated with the SDG framework, otherwise we are going to be suffering from a bad refabrication and partial approach,” said Moheildin.

He expected that in COP27 which will be held in Egypt, more countries will come up with a more holistic approach towards sustainability focusing on the implementation and projectization ideas and initiatives and more of emphasis on the regional dimension, localization, and finance.

Fabby Tumiwa, Co-chair of C20 Indonesia and Executive Director of the Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR) stated that as Indonesia holds the G20 Presidency, it should take bold action in orchestrating its power utility to implement energy transition. 

“Every country has to find its own way to deal with energy transition. The utility is facing serious challenges, such as climate change impacting the operation of the energy system, customer demands more renewable electricity at an affordable price, the workforce needs to upgrade with the current skill of renewable energy, regulation to limit carbon emissions, new technology is coming up that creates uncertainty in current utility business model,” said Fabby.

Fabby added that utilities need to adapt faster since there is limited time left to combat the climate crisis. Learning and skill shares among G20 members are crucial for utilities able to implement the solution immediately.

Philippe Benoit from Global Energy Policy, Columbia University presented that as State-owned Power Companies (SPCs) play a significant role in reducing GHG emissions, the government needs to reform it by influencing SPCs with policy options and targeted interventions directly and indirectly.

“The government can support SPC low carbon action by making resources available to SPC and advocacy, external pressure. But I would say, the easiest for a government that is committed to climate policy is to exercise the government shareholder power. For example, formal directive through Board resolutions and instructions, senior management appointments and dismissals,” said Benoit.

He added that other reformations of SPC include resourcing SPC low carbon actions with clear, consistent government direction, financing, complimentary or associated infrastructure, administrative support and capacity building for SPCs.

“SPCs need to participate in low carbon transition, as partners, not adversaries, and as enablers, not just producers. Empowering SPC low carbon action is key to achieving national and global climate goals,” he said.

Joojin Kim, Managing Director of Solutions for Our Climate (SFOC) offered a G20 outlook on accommodating more renewables in the power system. 

“We are in a pivotal moment and state utilities in the G20 must show leadership to unite the international community around solutions to the climate crisis. Many G20 nations, especially in Asia, are experiencing significant curtailment of renewables. Amid the present global energy situation, curtailment poses further uncertainty and economic loss. To address such challenges, countries must establish a governance framework that will ensure fair access and compensation for technologies that contribute to grid flexibility in order to reduce fossil fuel expenditure and increase renewable energy in the power mix,” said Joojin.

Evy Haryadi, Director of Corporate Planning of Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN), Indonesia, stated that achieving Indonesia’s net-zero target by 2060 by phasing out coal and developing renewable energy needs enormous investment. 

“Indonesia needs around USD 600 billion investment for carbon neutrality by 2060. We need support from international funders. However, for early retirement initiatives, the energy transition financing scheme is not existing in the market but is green financing. Transition financing still needs some regulatory framework, especially in international financing,” said Evy Haryadi. 

This event is organized by the C20 working group of environment, climate justice, and energy transition (ECEWG). C20 is one of the engagement groups under the G20 which represents civil society voices and concerns.

Preparing the Workforce That Will Be Affected by Reduced Demand of Fossil Energy

Jakarta, July 6, 2022 – The global commitment to reduce the use of fossil energy, as well as the increasing climate ambitions of coal-using countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, the United States, the European Union and South Africa have caused global coal demand to fall significantly.

As one of the largest coal exporting countries in the world, Indonesia needs to pay close attention to this. Coal contributes a lot to national non-tax revenues (PNBP), for coal-producing regions, the role of coal commodities for regional income can be very large.

The Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR) tries to see the implications of the policy of eliminating coal use and the global and domestic climate on the Indonesian economy, especially for workers in the sector through the study “Redefining Future Jobs: Implication of Coal Phase-Out to the Employment Sector and Economic Transformation in Indonesia’s Coal Region”.

This study also aims to see opportunities for economic transformation in coal-dependent areas and provide better welfare for workers. Julius Christian, the author of this study, explained that data from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources showed that in 2020 there were 167,380 workers in the coal mining sector. Demographically, these workers are on average under 40 years old, so they will still be of productive age in the next 10 years.

“In terms of the workforce, because most of them are young, there is an opportunity to conduct training in preparation for entering other industries,” said Julius.

Preparing for economic transformation after the coal economy era is full of challenges but must be done. This is to anticipate the demand for coal which could drop more drastically. Fabby Tumiwa, Executive Director of IESR stated that if the countries of the world had more ambitious climate action to pursue the Paris agreement targets, there would be a 20% reduction in coal demand by 2030, 60% by 2040 and 90% by 2050.

“This decline in production must also be anticipated because it will definitely affect the absorption of labor in the coal sector,” Fabby reminded.

Hendra Sinadia, Executive Director of APBI ICMA (Indonesian Coal Miners Association), also added that to target workers who are potentially affected, it is necessary to map coal reserves by company.

“So that the transformation process is effective and efficient, we can map the reserves for each company so that we can see how long their operating life will be. For small companies, maybe in 2030-2040 their operational period will be finished so it can be prioritized for their workers to receive training,” explained Hendra who was present virtually at the focused group discussion launching the study “Redefining the Future Job”.

C20 Indonesia Urge for a Just Energy Transition

Jakarta, 30 June 2022 – Energy transition is one of the priority issues of Indonesia’s 2022 G20 presidency. This role as the leader of the G20 countries is certainly a strategic momentum for Indonesia to show its commitment to the energy transition. The Paris Agreement in 2015 agreed to limit the earth’s temperature increase to no more than 2 degrees Celsius, even trying to keep it at the level of 1.5 degrees. For this reason, all parties must reduce their emissions from high-emission sectors such as energy and achieve carbon neutral status by the middle of this century.

To explore various perspectives on energy transition, the Civil 20 engagement group held a workshop entitled “Making a Just Energy Transition for All” inviting other engagement groups i.e: Think 20 (T20), Science 20 (S20) and Business 20 (B20). Also present as a panelist, Widhyawan Prawiraatmadja, former governor of Indonesia for OPEC.

From the ongoing discussion, all the speakers agreed to put the human aspect as the axis of the energy transition. Vivian Sunwoo Lee, International Coordinator of C20, said that C20 continues to urge the importance of immediately shifting from fossil-based energy systems to renewable energy-based energy systems.

“There are a number of risks, especially from a financial and economic perspective, from fossil energy infrastructure that has the potential to become a stranded asset if we don’t hurry to make the energy transition,” he said. Vivian also highlighted the large fossil energy subsidies that are still being provided by the G20 countries.

Professor Yunita Winarto, co-chair of Task Force 5 S20 stated the importance of an interdisciplinary approach in planning and implementing energy transitions.

“The interdisciplinary approach will shift the paradigm from exploitative-extractive to environmentally friendly-resilient, from a linear economy to a circular economy, and from good governance to proper governance. That way, a balance will undoubtedly be created according to the principles of the planet, people, & prosperity for all,” Yunita explained.

Moekti H. Soejachmoen, Lead co-chair of Task Force 3 T20, explained the importance of the carbon economic value instrument in the context of energy transition.

“The growth in energy demand will definitely continue to grow. It is inevitable, so we have to look for various ways to fulfill this energy need, but on the other hand our need to reduce emissions is also achieved. So this carbon economic value instrument is important,” explained Moekti.

Moekti also added that it was important for Indonesia to ensure that the issues pushed in this year’s G20 presidency would still be discussed in the following years. Given the energy transition is a long process and takes years.

The energy transition will completely change the face of Indonesia’s energy sector. Oki Muraza, Policy Manager of the Task Force Energy Sustainability and Climate, B20, explained that the affordability factor should be one of the main considerations in making the energy transition.

“We have to ensure that the affordability factor of energy during this transition process can be maintained. In addition, we also need to pay attention to people who are currently working in the hydrocarbon sector, how they can be trained so they don’t lose their jobs in the energy transition,” explained Oki.

Widhyawan Prawiraatmadja reminded that it is necessary to harmonize perceptions, rules and policies at the ministry level related to energy transition and the achievement of Indonesia’s commitments in the international level such as NDC. This is in addition to accelerating the achievement of national and international targets, as well as to give the same signal to investors.

“If the signals sent to investors are mixed, the perception of investors is that the risk of investing in Indonesia is high, and it is not impossible to make them reconsider investing,” said Widhyawan.

Local Government Has a Great Potential to Develop Regional Bonds for Green Development

Apart from the APBN (National Income and Expenditure Budget) and APBD (Regional Income and Expenditure Budget), local governments can now innovate to finance its infrastructure spending, especially those related to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), by issuing regional bonds and/or regional sukuk as a source of sustainable finance.

Istiana Maftuchah, Representative of the OJK (Financial Services Authority) in the online workshop Introduction to Sustainable Finance and Regional Bonds held by the Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR), supported by the British Embassy Jakarta (9/3), explained in detail.

“The global push has been felt until now as we are facing the Covid-19 pandemic. The direction of the financial services industry has been aimed towards sustainability, and now there has been a paradigm shift: People, Profits, Planet,” said Istiana.

In her opinion, this development is connected to Indonesia’s commitment to the SDGs and also the Paris Agreement, which has been ratified in Law no. 16/2016. She emphasized that investors’ interest in green products is getting bigger and is not only focused on profit.

Istiana explained that there is an opportunity for green investment to become a global trend in emerging countries, up to USD 23 trillion, for renewable energy, transportation, waste processing, and green building sectors.

“We need around IDR 67 trillion to fulfill the investment and financing needs of Indonesia’s SDGs (2020-2030), consisting of 62% from the government and 38% from non-government,” said Isti.

To achieve this target, OJK issued a road map for sustainable finance, including the issuance of OJK Regulation (POJK) 51/03/2017 about the Implementation of Sustainable Finance for Financial Service Institutions, Issuers, and Public Companies and POJK 60/04/2017 concerning Issuance and Securities Requirements Environmental Friendly Debt (Green Bond).

“POJK 60 is securities and debt, the results of which will fund environmentally friendly activities. There are 11 categories of environmentally friendly activities, we add one sector, i.e MSMEs, so a total of 12 environmentally friendly activities, “added Istiana.

On the same occasion, Ferike Indah Arika, Young Expert Policy Analyst, Center for Climate Change and Multilateral Policy (PKPPIM), Fiscal Policy Agency, Ministry of Finance discussed the need for innovative funding for green development.

Ferike said that since 2016, the Ministry of Finance has identified government budgets aimed at controlling climate change, as well as to measure and evaluate the budgeting. The average spending of ministries and agencies on climate change reached up to IDR 86.7 trillion.

“That is a large number, which is equivalent to 34% of the financing needs for climate change mitigation in the Second Biennial Update Report (Rp. 266.2 trillion per year),” she said.

Given the very limited state budget for Indonesia, and to attract green investment flows to Indonesia, the Ministry of Finance has issued a fiscal policy to control climate change. It includes 3 (three) policies; the state income policy, state spending policy, and financing policy.

Ferike explained that in the state income policy, the most significant change was the tax holiday facility in which previously the percentage of tax reduction was 10-100%, now it is 100%. Besides, the period of the tax holiday has been shifted from originally 5-15 years to become 20 years depending on the investment value.

From the aspect of financing policy, the Ministry of Finance issued a Sovereign Green Sukuk to finance the government’s climate change mitigation and adaptation projects.

“In early 2018, we issued the 1st Global Green Sukuk worth USD 2.25 billion. Meanwhile, in November 2020, the issuance of Green Sukuk reached the value of Rp. 5.42 trillion,” said Ferike.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Finance is considering the application of Carbon Pricing, among others, to promote sustainable growth and encourage Green Investment.

“Regulations related to Carbon Pricing are currently under discussion coordinated by the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs, and the regulation will be in the form of a Presidential Decree,” she said.

 

Local Government Opportunities to Use Regional Bonds for Green Development

 

Simon Saimima, Head of Sub-Directorate for Special Allocation Funds (DAK), Directorate of Regional Balancing Funds and Regional Loan Facilitation, Directorate General of Regional Financial Development, Ministry of Internal Affairs, explained about Green Bonds or Regional Bonds.

Following the regional bond issuance policy, Simon explained that it is a regional right to provide regional loans in synchronization with the Regional Medium Term Development Plan (RPJMD) and related regulations. Furthermore, regional loans will be repaid from the local government in the form of bonds on the capital market. Green Bonds or bonds are included in the long-term loan category.

Simon explained that the capital market issues the bonds. However, the guarantor is the local government in the form of assets and activities in certain provinces carrying out. The regions are responsible for all risks resulting from the issuance of these bonds.

To follow the procedures, the regional head and the Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) must approve the issuance of bonds. The Regional Representative Council (DPD) was also involved in the process.

“There are 9 (nine) required documents for regional bonds, and these must be fulfilled to meet the requirements of the Ministry of Internal Affairs,” he said.

Bonds that have been issued are the obligation of the local government to pay the loan principal and coupons by the agreement. If the local government fails to pay, they will also receive administrative sanctions.

Russell Marsh, Green Finance Lead, ASEAN Low Carbon Energy Program Ernst and Young, in his presentation, explained that although the need for sustainable funding is increasing, there are many identified challenges found in its development.

First, the lack of awareness and understanding of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) risks and the importance of sustainable finance both from the demand and supply side. Second, there is a lack of constant definitions, measurements, standards, and disclosures so that financial services institutions can evaluate potential sustainable projects and so that project owners can prepare supporting documents. Third, there is a lack of coordination between stakeholders in implementing regulations. Fourth, green bonds may not create “additionality”, for example, the projects that are financed to support environmentally friendly purposes but these projects were not previously financed. 

There are several solutions that Russell offers, i.e providing incentives for sustainable finance, developing transitional finance, and increasing understanding and building the capacity of financial service institutions and project owners.

 

Constraints of Local Government and Financial Institutions in Issuing of Bonds to Support Green Development

 

Present as speakers at the workshop on the second day (10/3) were Darwin Trisna Djajawinata, Operations & Finance Director of PT Sarana Multi Infrastruktur (SMI); and Rahul Sheth, Executive Director, Head of Sustainable Bonds at Standard Chartered Bank.

In his presentation, Darwin shared valuable information on the criteria for projects that were eligible to get financial support from financial institutions. The feasibility of a project to be financed depends on several things, for example, whether an infrastructure project is included in the Regional Medium Term Development Plan (RPJMD).

“For projects aimed to fulfill the rights and empower the poor, much more mature planning is needed because this financing is a loan, and it is impossible to impose this loan on the poor, so the regional government must repay the loan. Well, these schemes need to be planned carefully, “said Darwin

The ability of the regions to see potential sectors for development, compile proposals and manage debt will determine the confidence of financial institutions. Especially regarding the issuance procedure of municipal bonds which are very dependent on the track record of the region in managing debt.

“The issuance of municipal bonds depends on the ability of the regions to manage their debts well, and currently there are not many regions that can manage their debts properly,” added Darwin.

Rahul Sheth, Executive Director, Head of Sustainability from Standard Chartered Bank added that the readiness of the regions to issue these bonds varies. Regions that will issue bonds for the first time need more careful preparation. Financial Institutions usually have 2 types of bonds that are commonly issued to finance projects with specific issues, i.e green bonds to finance projects related to the environment and climate, and social bonds to finance social community projects such as infrastructure, access to finance for MSMEs.

“The social bond market is one of the largest,” said Rahul. This shows great potential for local governments to develop regional bonds. At the end of his presentation, Rahul answered questions from the participant, Yugo from Bank South Kalimantan, about the challenges that often arise when issuing bonds.

“Data and data automation are challenges that often come. When the data is complete, various things can be done and monitored automatically, such as taxes, balances, and other financial reports. Data collection and data management are critical processes in this industry,” concluded Rahul.

Participants shared some of the obstacles in issuing regional bonds regarding regulations such as the sovereign guarantee that is given only to State-Owned Enterprises (BUMN), not Regional-Owned Enterprises (BUMD), which automatically makes it harder for local governments to plan bond issuance for strategic projects.

The color of economic recovery is green

[Op-ed at The Jakarta Post, 21 July 2020]

With the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic felt far and wide, almost all countries are now in combat mode: issuing and implementing various policies to stop the spread and to cushion the impacts on the economy and people’s livelihood.

For that purpose, governments have allocated more than US$12 trillion in the form of direct budget support, loan and equity injections, guarantees and other incentives. According to Energy Policy Tracker only a small fraction of $88 billion is aimed at clean energy, which is only half than stimulus for fossil fuels.

Learning from the past recession, there will be a spike in human and industrial activity post-crisis along with a bounce back in the economy. Carbon emissions dropped 1.4 percent in 2009 after the 2008 financial crisis, but rose 5.1 percent in 2010.

While many have prematurely celebrated the predicted 8 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions this year, the world needs to remain watchful.

Green growth, as a means of doing the best for people and the planet, has been proven to be economically effective, particularly in response to crisis. The International Energy Agency (IEA) highlighted how green stimulus programs in response to the 2008-2009 economic crisis had played an important role in recovering the economy in China, Japan, Korea and the European Union.

A recent study from Oxford University, co-authored by prominent experts including environmental economist Cameron Hepburn and Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, also found large support for green economic measures from the respondents of the study (central bankers, finance ministers and academics). Their key question did not solely mention climate targets, but also the speed of implementation, long-run economic multiplier and policy desirability. Clean energy policies, particularly clean energy R&D, infrastructure and clean connectivity infrastructure, were listed in the top 10 desired recovery policies, considered having large long-run multipliers and a strong positive impact on the climate. Just last month, the IEA also issued its Sustainable Recovery Report, echoing the need to push for climate-oriented recovery and to “build back better”.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) predicted that Indonesia’s economy would grow 2.5 percent in 2020, a stark contrast to 5 percent growth last year. Economic growth in the second quarter is negative and future growth remains bleak.

Undoubtedly, the Indonesian government needs to disburse economic stimulus to create growth. The growing voice to encourage greener measures, however, has yet to resonate in Indonesia. The government has designated Rp 695.2 trillion ($48 billion) for COVID-19 measures and economic stimulus packages, yet none was allocated to green stimulus.

Vivid Economics has been reviewing the “greenness” of 17 major economies’ COVID-19 stimulus injected into sectors that have long-term impacts on nature, and it suggested that Indonesia’s stimulus falls into the “brown” category (and has the lowest score), dominated by support for the high-carbon industry and energy sector.

Indonesia should opt for renewable energy for economic development, particularly in this difficult time and to reduce future greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, the share of renewable energy in Indonesia’s power sector is only 2 percent of total potential – a result of intertwining factors: a lack of consistent and supportive policies, market barriers, as well as concerns about human resources and grid readiness.

Solar energy, with the highest potential (of more than 200 GW nationwide), has yet to boom despite the global trend showing the exact opposite. Benefiting from massive deployment globally and a sharp decline in technology prices, solar energy could play an instrumental role in reviving Indonesia’s economy – and by extension, opening the doors to rapidly develop other renewables, keeping on track with our national energy target and climate pledge.

The Jakarta Post reported on June 19 that the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry was working on a $1 billion solar program. It targets 1 gigawatt-peak (GWp) annual installations of rooftop solar for households receiving electricity subsidies. If prepared and implemented properly, this national solar program could be the answer to Indonesia’s absence in disbursing green stimulus: providing energy safety nets, boosting domestic solar industry and creating employment.

We estimate that this program could generate up to 30,000 green jobs per annum, much needed to fill in the gaps in recovering the economy.

The program is only one form of strategy for green economic recovery, and it is clearly not sufficient. As Indonesia aims to reach a 23 percent share of renewable energy in the primary energy mix by 2025, an additional $3 billion to $5 billion investment (in the renewable energy sector alone) is required. Building gigawatt solar plants and rooftop solar could be the fastest way to meet this target in due time. Unfortunately, Indonesia’s renewable energy investment attractiveness is pretty low.

The long-awaited presidential regulation on renewable tariffs and procurement of renewables, as well as the newly announced cooperation between the IEA and Indonesia should come to aid, as they are expected to increase investment attractiveness. Financing support for residential and commercial solar installation could also spur interest in installing rooftop solar, along with removing barriers to connect rooftop solar to state electricity company PLN’s grid.

Given the opportunity and the potential, we call on President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to set green economic recovery strategies and to take the lead in accelerating energy transition in Indonesia. Putting the stimulus money into fossil fuels and dirty industry is not an option.

The pandemic has given us an opportunity to rethink our development, and we cannot just do business as usual. Carpe diem.

***

Fabby Tumiwa is the executive director of the Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR), Marlistya Citraningrum is the institute’s program manager for sustainable energy access.

Featured image via The Jakarta Post – accompanying image of the op-ed.

JawaPos | IESR Dorong Pemanfaatan Batu Bara untuk Kebutuhan Domestik

20 Januari 2020, 18:23:46 WIB

JawaPos.com – Direktur Eksekutif Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR), Fabby Tumiwa menyebutkan bahwa saat ini banyak negara yang berlomba-lomba untuk memanfaatkan cadangan batu bara. Pasalnya, saat ini sedang terjadi transisi dari pemanfaatan energi fosil menjadi energi terbarukan.

“Ada transisi dari fosil fuel ke renewable (atau) energi terbarukan. Negara-negara yang menjadi tujuan ekspor kita beberapa juga punya batu bara, seperti Tiongkok dan India. Negara-negara tersebut juga ingin memanfaatkan batu bara mereka karena mereka tahu waktu pemanfaatan batu bara itu tinggal sedikit,” jelasnya di Balai Kartini, Jakarta, Senin (20/1).

Ia menyebutkan bahwa saat ini, dua negara tersebut tengah melakukan pembatasan ekspor. Tentu mereka ingin memanfaatkan batu bara sebagai energi alternatif di luar gas ataupun liquid natural gas (LNG).

“Jadi, mereka mencoba memodifikasi sumber daya alam, makanya sekarang Tiongkok atau India mengurangi ekspornya. Ini akan menjadi tren baru menurut saya,” tuturnya.

Indonesia diketahui sebagai salah satu pemain batu bara terbesar di dunia. Pada 2019 lalu produksi yang dihasilkan lebih dari 400 juta ton. Padahal, produksi untuk batu bara telah dibatasi oleh Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (ESDM).

“Paling tidak kita bisa melihat dan regulasi itu tidak konsisten, seperti rencana energi nasional itu dengan tegas mengatakan membatasi produksi batu bara 400 juta ton di 2019. Kenapa perlu dibatasi? karena dampak pertambangan itu sangat dahsyat,” terangnya.

Di sisi lain, ada negara-negara yang terus menggenjot ekspor batu bara. “Rusia yang melakukan ekspor di sejumlah bagian di Asia Selatan. Afrika Selatan dan Kolombia juga masuk ke pasar Asia. Artinya produk batu bara Indonesia menghadapi saingan di pasar-pasar yang didominasi oleh Indonesia,” katanya.

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Indonesia ‘must stop building new coal plants by 2020’ to meet climate goals

2 December 2019

JAKARTA — Indonesia must stop building new coal-fired power plants by 2020 if it wants to do its part to cap global warming under the targets of the Paris climate agreement, new analysis shows.

The country is one of the few still actively planning and constructing new plants, putting it on a trajectory to miss its climate commitments, aimed at limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels and achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

In an analysis of four scenarios, carried out by the Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR), a Jakarta-based think tank, only one would see Indonesia contribute to those goals — and it starts with scrapping the dozens of coal-fired power plants being built or planned.

Achieving that goal, the IESR says, “would require that there are fewer coal plants installed capacity in Indonesia,” including “no more coal plants … built after 2020.”

“The 1.5 [degree] scenario would even need 2 gigawatts less of coal plant installed capacity from current existing capacity by 2020, meaning coal plant phase-out should happen this year,” it adds.

That scenario sees burning of coal phased out altogether by 2048 and the country’s total emissions peak by 2028 at 274 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) before declining to zero by 2048.

A second, less stringent, scenario projects capping global warming at 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. It too would require stopping building new coal-fired power plants by 2020.

The other scenarios are less ambitious in scope, such as retiring coal plants older than 30 years, and improving the efficiency of existing plants. But these scenarios would mean Indonesia falling short of its climate commitments and contributing to a global temperature rise of 2 to 3 degrees Celsius (3.6 to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit).

And even then, said IESR executive director Fabby Tumiwa, “we still won’t reach net-zero emissions” by 2050.

The Cilacap coal power plant is located near a port for local fishermen. Image by Tommy Apriando/Mongabay-Indonesia.

Coal building spree

A landmark report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last year warned that the world had until 2030 to cap global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid catastrophic climate change impacts. In practice, this means global greenhouse gas emissions will have to drop by half over the next 10 years and reach net-zero around mid-century.

Much of Indonesia’s emissions to date have come from deforestation and land use change, particularly the burning of carbon-rich peatlands to make way for plantations of oil palm, pulpwood, and rubber. But under the current administration’s ambitious energy push, emissions from electricity generation are poised to dominate.

The country’s energy consumption growth is among the fastest in the world, and the government is relying mostly on coal-fired plants to feed that demand. In 2018, coal accounted for 60 percent of Indonesia’s energy mix.

Under the government’s latest electricity procurement plan, the installed capacity of coal plants in the country is expected to nearly double over the next decade from the current 28 gigawatts. Thirty-nine coal-fired power plants are currently under construction, and 68 have been announced, which will maintain coal’s dominance of the energy mix at nearly 55 percent by 2025.

Of six new power plants expected to go online this year, three are fired by coal. (The other three are small-capacity facilities powered by natural gas, hydro and solar, respectively.)

This trajectory risks trapping Indonesia in a high-carbon economy, says the IESR’s Fabby, because once a coal plant is built, it can remain in operation for up to 50 years.

“If we build fossil fuel infrastructure today, the emissions for the next half a century will be locked,” he said. “It’s estimated that our emissions from power plants will be at 700 to 800 million tons of CO2 in 2030.”

Coal spill from July 2018 along a beach in Indonesia’s Aceh province in Sumatra. Image by Junaidi Hanafiah/Mongabay-Indonesia.

Regional outlier

Indonesia’s coal plant building spree makes the country an outlier in Southeast Asia, where governments are increasingly taking a stand against the fossil fuel. Recent analysis by the Global Energy Monitor (GEM) identifies Indonesia as the only country in the region to build new coal energy infrastructure in the first half of 2019.

Thailand in January removed two major coal plants, the 800-megawatt Krabi and 2,200 MW Thepa facilities, from its energy development plan. It also shelved the 3,200 MW Thap Sakae project due to community resistance. The country’s plan also reduces the share of coal in the energy mix from 25 percent envisaged in the previous plan to just 12 percent.

Instead, Thailand is making a major pivot toward clean energy, announcing an ambitious plan to build the world’s largest floating solar farms to power Southeast Asia’s second-largest economy.

In the Philippines, which faces a similar challenge to Indonesia of meeting fast-growing demand for cheap electricity, President Rodrigo Duterte recently called on his department of energy to fast-track the development of renewable energy and reduce dependence on coal. In practice, however, the government still hasn’t issued an executive mandate that would compel the energy department to change its coal-dependent roadmap. And in October, Duterte inaugurated the country’s 21st coal-fired power plant.

And while the region as a whole is home to three of the world’s top 10 biggest networks of planned coal power plants, construction of new plants in Southeast Asia has actually fallen dramatically since peaking at 12,920 MW new installed capacity in 2016, according to the GEM. In 2018, only 2,744 MW of new coal-fired capacity entered into construction.

Christine Shearer, the director of the GEM’s coal program, said coal had become increasingly less attractive for investors in Southeast Asia.

“Coal power is facing something of a perfect storm,” she said. “Communities are rejecting it due to the high levels of pollution, renewable energy technology is undercutting it in terms of quality and cost, and financial institutions are backing away fast, making funding an increasing challenge for coal proponents.”

A worker walking by rows of solar panels at the Kayubihi Power Plant in Bangli, Bali. The Kayubihi Power Plant is the only solar-powered plant operating in Bali out of a total of three plants. Image by Anton Muhajir/Mongabay Indonesia.

Lack of renewable-friendly policies

While the IESR analysis makes clear that Indonesia must begin phasing out coal power as soon as possible if it wants to contribute to the global climate effort, Fabby said doing so will be challenging without a clear exit strategy. He noted that coal mining is an industry that generates significant revenue and jobs for several provinces.

“Of course coal power plants can’t just be closed down, because there’s going to be economic and financial consequences,” Fabby said. “We need energy transition. We also need to anticipate the economic consequences that might happen.”

While the government plans to increase the share of renewables in the energy mix from 7 percent at present to 23 percent by 2025, progress has been sluggish. There are currently no carbon disincentives to encourage investment in renewable energy, while coal-fired power plants continue to receive hefty subsidies.

The government has hitched its renewable wagon to biofuel made with palm oil — a controversial decision, given the deforestation attendant in the production of much of the country’s palm oil.

Fabby pointed to a key omission in the renewable transition for Indonesia, the only country in Asia that lies on the equator: solar power, which remains largely unexploited.

“What we need is the political will,” he said. “For example, Vietnam, in a matter of 12 months they built 4.5 GW of solar. Countries like Vietnam can do it. The key is for the government [in Indonesia] to have the political will, feed-in tariffs and [attractive] prices so that investors can enter.”

Vietnam has turned into a solar power champion in the region, hitting its solar target six years early thanks to the government’s feed-in tariff that ensures a price of 9.35 U.S. cents per kilowatt-hour — thereby giving producers a financial incentive to invest in the sector.

As a result, Vietnam is experiencing a solar boom, with energy consultant Wood Mackenzie predicting the country’s installed solar capacity will reach 5.5 GW by the end of 2019, representing 44 percent of the total for Southeast Asia.

Last year, Vietnam’s installed solar capacity was just 0.134 GW.

Indonesia can also look to India’s transition as an example, said Lauri Myllyvirta, the lead analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA). Both countries share similar demographics and a reliance on coal in their energy mix. India, however, has had greater success developing its renewables and easing away from coal, thanks to competitive auctions, according to Myllyvirta.

“So you make renewable energy providers compete for the lowest price and scale up the industry to bring down cost,” he said.

But with no policies in place in Indonesia to bring down the cost of renewables, development of clean energy alternatives will remain expensive, he said.

“If I drink a cup of coffee or eat rice in Australia, the cost is 10 times more expensive [than in Indonesia],” Myllyvirta said. “But if I want to build a solar PV, it’s more expensive in Indonesia. So we can see that the condition [for renewables] in Indonesia isn’t optimal yet. And this isn’t caused by geographical condition, because Indonesia has a lot of sun.”

Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, a former energy adviser to the Indonesian government and now head of the IESR-affiliated Indonesia Clean Energy Forum (ICEF), agreed that Indonesia risked being left behind in the global transition from coal to renewables without a drastic change in its policies.

“There needs to be a regulation that’s revolutionary,” he said as quoted by local media. “In a short time, coal will become the enemy of the world. Yet Indonesia still depends on coal for its power plants. This has to change immediately.”

Note: This article is adapted from an article published on Nov. 10, 2019, at our Indonesian website: https://www.mongabay.co.id/2019/11/10/bangun-pltu-dan-lepas-hutan-bakal-gagalkan-komitmen-iklim-indonesia-bagaimana-cara-capai-target/

 

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Indonesia’s Ahok bags top job at state energy giant Pertamina – is a return to politics next?

23 November 2019//9.00

Former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, best known as Ahok, has been named the new president commissioner of Indonesian state energy giant PT Pertamina, sparking speculation of a return to politics following his jailing in 2017 for blasphemy.

The Christian and ethnic Chinese politician, who was released in January after serving a controversial two-year term behind bars for insulting Islam, was officially awarded the position on Friday following days of rumour among Indonesia’s political elite.

He will replace outgoing president commissioner Tanri Abeng.

The appointment was met with mixed reaction among economists and analysts in Jakarta. Some praised the move, saying it would help weed out corruption at Pertamina, which as of March had assets worth at least US$65 billion.

“I think if Ahok is going to fit into a state-owned enterprise, he is going to be the top man, since I can’t see him working well with someone over him,” said Keith Loveard, an analyst at Concord Consulting. “[But it might be] difficult at one of the really big firms like Pertamina where a degree of industry knowledge is helpful.

“He has experience in managing a large organisation and has demonstrated his capacity for searching out inefficiency and corruption. As long as he doesn’t get too opinionated – and we all know he has a habit of speaking out a lot – he is going to be a credit to the organisation.”

Ahok was first floated as a likely pick for the position earlier this month, and since then Indonesian media have responded positively.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, himself a former governor of Jakarta until he handed the position to Ahok in 2014, has recently praised his record. “We know [the quality] of his work,” he said last Saturday, referring to Ahok’s performance as vice-governor between 2012 and 2014.

Ahok became the head of the capital by default in October 2014 when Widodo became president, and he served until 2017, building a reputation as a straight talker who was keen to cut red tape.

Gunarto Myrdal, an economist at Bank Maybank Indonesia in Jakarta, said Ahok had shown professionalism and integrity in the past, and was qualified for the position.

“A key figure like him would be fit to be a leader or executive at a strategic enterprise such as Pertamina or [electricity provider] Perusahaan Listrik Negara,” he said.

Ahok’s blasphemy conviction was the result of a comment he made while campaigning for re-election as Jakarta governor. He did not appeal against the sentence and opted to serve the term at a prison in Depok just outside the capital. He subsequently lost the election.

Born in Manggar in East Belitung island, he is a member of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI), which is Widodo’s political vehicle and the party with the most seats in the Indonesian legislature. The organisation is chaired by Megawati Sukarnoputri, daughter of late president Sukarno.

Ahok’s return to public life has sparked talk in recent days of a possible political comeback, but Loveard poured cold water on that idea.

“No, I don’t think that will happen. There has been a degree of protest even over a job for him in a state-owned enterprise, and I don’t believe any political party would want to take the risk of stirring up the hornets’ nest once more.”

Mohamad Qodari, an analyst and executive director of political consulting firm Indo Barometer, said Ahok’s political future had been terminated as he was now perceived in a negative light by many Indonesians, especially Muslims.

“I don’t see Ahok having a chance of returning to the political arena if you define political life as running for mayor or regent, for example. His name is now negative to the public due to his straight-talking behaviour.”

Fabby Tumiwa, executive director of the Institute for Essential Service Reform, said Ahok’s appointment raised concerns about the lack of clear procedures and criteria for talent scouting at state enterprises, especially at the policy decision level.

“I have not seen President Widodo announce anything on the criteria for picking executives,” Fabby said.

Rini Soemarno, the former cabinet minister previously in charge of state enterprises, had failed to implement proper mechanisms for hiring and firing, Fabby added, and executives at Pertamina had been appointed in a process seen as fishy. “Not to mention that state enterprises have been cash cows for political elites and bureaucrats,” he said.

Corporate organisational structure in Indonesia differs from that in many other countries. Indonesian firms have a board of commissioners chaired by a president commissioner. The board supervises management policies and advises the company’s board of directors, which is responsible for daily management and operations. The CEO, referred to as the president director in Indonesia, chairs the board of directors.

Erick Thohir, who took over as the minister for state enterprises this month, did not respond to requests for comment. Neither did his two vice-ministers, Budi Gunadi Sadikin and Kartika Wirjoatmodjo.

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