South Sumatra Journalists Form Energy Transition Journalist Network

press release

Palembang, February 20, 2024 – The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) Palembang together with the Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR), a leading think tank in Indonesia that focuses on energy and the environment and the Society of Indonesian Environmental Journalists (SIEJ) took the initiative to form the “South Sumatra (South Sumatra) Just Journalist Network” to build public awareness of the energy transition through quality journalistic work.  Through this Just Journalist network, it is hoped that there will be more quality news related to the issue of energy transition so as to increase public understanding and trigger the acceleration of the transition from fossil energy to renewable energy at the regional level.

Based on data in the report “Insights on energy transition news in the electricity sector in Indonesia from 2020-2022” published by CASE Indonesia in 2023, national media dominated the news about energy transition in the electricity sector. Meanwhile, regional media has yet to make a significant contribution. IESR views that optimizing the role of media in the regions is crucial to reach public participation in supporting the energy transition process and greater use of renewable energy.

Chairman of AJI Palembang, M. Fajar Wiko, said that journalists who are members of the South Sumatra Just Journalist Network can shape public opinion on energy transition, identify challenges and opportunities in covering complex issues related to renewable energy, and identify the economic, social and environmental impacts of the energy transition program effectively to communicate to the public.

“The establishment of this Network is expected to clarify the role of the media in providing explanations about renewable technologies, government policies, and private sector initiatives in the energy transition, as well as encouraging better public understanding to actively participate in supporting the energy transition, and encouraging the role of stakeholders to create a more favorable environment for renewable energy, to motivate collaboration between the media, government, private sector and society to design the best solution,” said Wiko. 

Forum Jurnalis Sumsel

Marlistya Citraningrum, the Program Manager of Sustainable Energy Access, IESR, mentioned that the energy transition is happening in various parts of the world, including Indonesia has diverse contexts at the regional or subnational level. The shift from fossil fuel to renewable and more sustainable energy systems is demonstrated by the trend of retiring and early retirement of coal-fired power plants around the world – as well as in Indonesia under the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) plan. This will have a direct impact on Indonesia’s coal-producing provinces and districts, particularly in the economic and development sectors. Subnational governments need to anticipate this trend in advance, including to boost the alternative economy sector and optimize the use of renewable energy. The media can play a role in educating the public to immediately switch to low-emission energy.

“IESR’s studies in several coal-producing regions show that although regional income depends on the coal economy, the economic multiplier effect is not directly enjoyed by surrounding communities in the form of infrastructure, economic improvement, or basic services such as education and health. In Muara Enim, around 78% of profits are absorbed by mining companies, in addition to local laborers working more freelance for contractors or vendors of mining companies instead of professional workers in the company,” said Marlistya.

Aryansyah, Head of Energy Division, Energy and Mineral Resources Agency of South Sumatra Province, said that the province has a renewable energy potential of around 21,032 MW with an installed capacity of renewable energy of around 989.12 MW or around 4.70%.

“In the future, the utilization of clean energy based on renewable energy in South Sumatra can be further developed to all levels of society. Some of the strategies we carry out to encourage the use of renewable energy, including providing energy for regional needs by increasing exploration of the potential for new renewable energy, utilizing new renewable energy such as solar energy, water, geothermal and others, as well as conserving and diversifying energy,” said Aryansyah.

Encourage Just Energy Transition in Coal-Producing Regions

Jakarta, November 21, 2023 – The Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR) believes that mitigating the impact of energy transition in coal-producing areas needs to be a concern of the central and regional governments. The involvement of affected communities by prioritizing justice in the energy transition process is crucial to moving from a fossil-intensive economic system to a sustainable economy.

IESR has conducted a study entitled Just Transition in Indonesia’s Coal Producing Regions, Case Studies Paser and Muara Enim, with research locations in Paser Regency, East Kalimantan Province, and Muara Enim Regency, South Sumatra Province. The study found that coal-producing regions can contribute to the economic transition to clean energy. Some factors that can potentially aid in this transition are the emergence of awareness to not solely rely on one source of regional income, such as the coal sector, a company’s initiative to diversify its business beyond coal, and the implementation of corporate social responsibility (CSR) which can act as a source of funding for community empowerment. However, several obstacles hinder the optimization of this potential, such as the limited authority of local government, lack of financial capacity, and inadequate health and education infrastructure.

“The government needs to pay attention to the energy transition phenomenon in coal-producing regions to mitigate its impact. Indonesia still has time to prepare for the energy transition process, but the time is insufficient. We cannot let the coal industry end abruptly, as the regions are not yet ready to transform. The central government needs to properly understand the context of energy transition in these regions so that it can make active interventions in coal-producing regions,” said Fabby Tumiwa, Executive Director of IESR at the media dialogue entitled “Equitable Transition in Coal Producing Regions in Indonesia: Case Study of Muara Enim Regency and Paser Regency.”

The study also found insufficient economic diversification and industrial development in coal-producing regions. Most of the coal produced in Paser and Muara Enim is exported to other regions, which has not led to any significant industrial development. Industrial development is also slow in both regions, particularly in Paser, where the manufacturing industry’s gross regional domestic product (GRDP) is still lower than agriculture. In Muara Enim, the lack of viable economic opportunities is also due to limited agricultural land, especially rubber plantations, due to land use change from plantations to mining concession areas.

“Therefore, we encourage the central and regional governments to focus on economic transformation by developing sectors of excellence in each coal-producing region. For instance, in Paser Regency, East Kalimantan, the education and financial services sectors have shown promising growth. Similarly, Muara Enim Regency, South Sumatra, has performed better in the accommodation and food services sector than its neighboring regions. Therefore, we suggest that the authorities prioritize these sectors of excellence to boost economic development in these areas,” explained Martha Jesica, Social and Economic Analyst at IESR. 

Rusdian Noor, Secretary of the Regional Development Planning Agency (Bappeda) of Paser Regency, East Kalimantan, hopes that the acceleration of energy transition in coal-producing areas will be accompanied by support from the central government for investment and technological innovation.

“The Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) of Paser Regency in 2022 is expected to fund around 75% of the regional development, and the primary contributor to this is the mining sector. To ensure sustainable development, the energy transition process must focus on diversifying the economic sector and generating at least 75% of the PDR. This will help the region maintain its power and progress towards sustainable development,” said Rusdian. 

Similarly, Mat Kasrun, Head of Bappeda Muara Enim Regency, expressed that his party should be involved in all policy-making related to energy transition and has the authority to develop new and renewable energy. He also hopes for support from the central government in granting discretion in authority or licensing for developing new economic sectors in the regions.