Despite the Indonesian government’s failure to begin a two-year forest-clearing moratorium this year, Nobel laureate and former US vice president Al Gore praised President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as a leading voice in raising global awareness on climate change.
Speaking to 350 participants from 21 countries at the Asia Pacific Summit for the Climate Project, Gore thanked the President’s vision, courage and leadership on climate change during the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 15) in Copenhagen, Denmark.
During the COP 15, Yudhoyono announced plans to voluntarily reduce carbon emissions by 26 percent by 2020 using the national budget in a formal letter submitted to the UN.
“I respect him greatly and admire his leadership and his historic pledge that he made on the eve of Copenhagen is going to continue to bring great things to the world and Indonesia,” he said.
Gore said developing countries in the Asia-Pacific region were more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change because they had a larger dependence on agriculture and fewer resources with which to adapt.
However, he added, the region also had plenty of opportunities to deal with climate change.
“Indonesia, as one example, is the world’s third-largest geothermal producer for electricity. Indonesia could be the superpower for geothermal electricity and it can advance Indonesia’s economy,” he said.
Despite the resistance of countries to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change, Gore said the Indonesian government had shown great commitment by engaging in various efforts to curb emissions and campaign for the use of renewable energy.
Last year, Indonesia hosted the World Geothermal Congress, held every five years. Geothermal energy — a clean source of locally available (not exportable) energy, of which Indonesia claims about 40 percent of the world’s reserves — is being promoted to expand electricity supply.
The acceleration of geothermal development (aimed to deliver close to 4 gigawatts by 2014, more than three times the current capacity of 1,189 megawatts) may serve as a champion for Indonesia’s energy provision from renewable sources.
Indonesia also signed a US$1 billion climate deal with Norway to reduce emissions from forest loss.
Deforestation in Indonesia is currently the highest in the world at 1 million hectares cleared per year.
Under the Norway deal, Indonesia is required to start a two-year moratorium on forest-clearing on Jan. 1 this year.
Despite his courageous pledge at Copenhagen, however, Yudhoyono’s administration has already missed the target with no legal framework in place to apply the moratorium.
A legislator from the House of Representatives’ Commission VII overseeing environmental and energy affairs, Satya Widya Yudha, praised Gore’s speech for his insight into reducing emissions, but admitted it was never easy to realize the commitment to address climate change.
He said even the US had not shown a better commitment to support the global cause.
“As a developed country, the US should be a leading example on how to reduce emissions for developing countries such as Indonesia,” he told The Jakarta Post.
Efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and growing oil imports have also progressed slowly in the US, while last year the Obama administration failed to pass a key climate change bill.
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