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Indonesia is the 3rd largest GHG emitter but reducing deforestation offers big opportunity, says government

Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions reached 2.1 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2005, making it the world’s third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, but offering opportunities to substantially reduce emissions through forest conservation, reduced use of fire, protection of peatlands, and better forest management, reports a series of studies released earlier this month by the country’s National Climate Change Council (DNPI).

The research—which analyzed current greenhouse gas emissions emissions and reduction potential in eight sectors: peat, forestry, agriculture, power, transportation, petroleum and gas, cement and buildings—found that 85 percent of the country’s emissions result from land use: 41 percent come from degradation and destruction of peatlands, while 37 percent result from deforestation (currently 800,000 hectares per year), degradation through logging (1 million hectares), and forest fires. It estimated that Indonesia’s emissions would reach 2.5 billion tons of CO2 by 2020 and 3.3 billion tons by 2030 under current growth rates.

GHG Abatement Curve for Indonesia

But using a greenhouse gas abatement curve developed by McKinsey & Co, the research identified a number of options for significantly cutting projected emissions at low cost. The five biggest opportunities were preventing deforestation (570 million metric tons in 2030), preventing peatland fires (310 m tons), managing and restoring peatlands (250 m tons), implementing and enforcing sustainable forest management (SFM) (240 m tons), and reforesting marginal and degraded forests (150 m tons). In total, the analysis concluded that better land management could cut emissions by 1.9 billion tons by 2030, or more than the current industrial emissions of India.

The research indicates that cutting emissions will contribute to Indonesia’s long-term economic growth relative to conventional approaches, chiefly because “many emissions sources are not economically productive.” For example, peat fires cost the country up to $4 billion annually due to “material losses, delayed logistics and health problems,” according to a statement released with the reports.

“Indonesia’s GHG emission profile is unique because it is heavily dominated by emissions
from forest and peatland where more efficient use of the land both increases economic value
and reduces GHG emissions,” reads the statement. “Stopping the use of fire as a tool for land clearing, improving
logging practices so less timber is left to rot and goes to waste, reforestation of areas
degraded by unsustainable logging practices, rehabilitation of previously opened peatlands
are some examples of high-impact GHG mitigation initiatives in the green growth strategies.
They share the principle that their long-term economic value greatly outweighs the benefits
from continuing current unsustainable and high GHG emitting activities.”

Logged peatland in Borneo

The researchers cite East Kalimantan as an example. The province, located on the eastern part of Indonesian Borneo, is experiencing large-scale forest and peatland conversion for timber production and plantations. But the study finds the province can boost its GDP growth from a business-as-usual rate of 3 percent year per year to
5 percent “without increasing emissions by moving to higher value-added activities and
promoting less carbon-intensive sectors.”

“In a developing economy like Indonesia the people will not choose to reduce GHG
emissions if to do so mean slowing economic growth. Our strategy does not require that
choice,” said Rachmat Witoelar, Executive Chair of the
DNPI. “We have found that economic development and GHG mitigation can be mutually
reinforcing. A more sustainable economic path requires a paradigm shift, but in the long-term
it will increase Indonesia’s economic growth.”

Reports from Indonesia’s National Climate Change Council (DNPI)

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