The Jakarta Post
The Indonesian government needs to have strong regulations in order to tackle environmental problems and dilemmas that exist in the country, as part of joining the global action to fight climate change.
Sir David King, the UK foreign secretary's special representative for climate change, said on Friday that Indonesia was a very special ally in the battle against climate change, while at the same time being a rapidly developing country in economic terms.
He said some of the country's booming sectors, like the palm oil industry, which was triggered by global demands, should be acknowledged as bringing positive benefits and creating wealth for the nation.
However, the industry is not regulated strictly, which could result in environmental degradation in the next 10 to 20 years, due to the industry's large impact on deforestation. 'The [deforestation] is irrevocable, often irreversible,' King said.
In order to solve the dilemmas, he asserted that in the end, it was the government that was responsible for regulating the processes of an industry, giving fines, monitoring implementation and all aspects related to that.
He said the Indonesian government had actually made a positive declaration and commitment to tackling climate change, by reducing deforestation and reducing emissions.
In September 2009, at the G20 Summit in the US city of Pittsburgh, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono pledged to cut emissions by 26 percent by 2020 using the state budget, or by 41 percent if developed nations gave financial support. Yudhoyono signed the commitment in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December 2009.
'The 26 percent reduction of emissions is a good figure and I am sure the country can achieve it. If the government is persistent, it will be much better if the target is raised to 41 percent,' King added.
Indonesia's commitment, he said, was illustrated by the country's cooperation through the Forestry Ministry with the UK and European Union (EU) regarding timber control, which has been ongoing for a decade. Indonesia, the UK and the EU agreed that all timber exports to the EU should be certified.
'Last year, the trade numbers between Indonesia and EU in the sector doubled. So, it was great to maintain both environmental and economic sustainability,' King said.
He said Indonesia was quite progressive compared to other developing countries, and should continue to optimize renewable energy.
He also mentioned non-governmental organizations (NGOs) had an important role to play in the monitoring process and in criticizing the lack of governmental concern for the environment.
'NGOs like Greenpeace have [put strong pressure] on the governments of the world in order to make them act on violations and deforestation. One example of this is Asia Pulp and Paper, which was a poorly behaved company, but now it's one of the good guys,' King said.
Previously, US Secretary of State John Kerry gave a speech on climate change in front of Indonesian students, civic leaders and government officials, to urge the country to commit seriously to saving the environment. (gda)