The government unveiled on Friday its annual emissions target, also known as Forest Reference Emission Levels (FREL), as part of its commitment on implementing the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation plus (REDD+) scheme.
Although the national agency for REDD+ (BP REDD+), formed in 2013 to fight climate change, was officially disbanded in January and was later merged with the Environment and Forestry Ministry, the government said it continued to maintain its commitment under the ministry.
The FREL figures released by the ministry on Friday started from 0.575 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) this year and are expected to reach 0.593 gigatons of CO2e in 2020.
The projected increase was expected due to deforestation, forest degradation and peat decomposition. The benchmark increases 1.6 percent every year due to inherited emissions from peat decomposition.
'However, it has not included forest fires as a source of emissions because there are many versions of data from different institutions and we still need to explore a more accurate method to map hotspots and peat depth,' Nur Masripatin, the ministry's director general for climate change, said Friday during the soft launch of FREL and the Biennial Update Reports (BUR) in Central Jakarta on Friday.
The figures will be submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) or the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP) this December for evaluation.
'The decision to set FREL is a part of our efforts in fighting climate change, along with other efforts such as ongoing mitigation activities related to agriculture and public development in forest areas,' Nur said.
She was quick to mention that the reference level was not directly related to the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) plan that will also be submitted to the UN, which emphasizes emission reduction targets mostly from the energy sector.
FREL are needed as a requirement to be able to implement 2007 REDD+ commitments under the UN. REDD+ is a mechanism aimed at slowing climate change by providing financial incentives to protect forests, as they absorb carbon from the atmosphere.
The mechanism uses a performance-based payment system in which countries may pay Indonesia for keeping carbon stock low.
In 2010, through the National Council on Climate Change (DNPI), Indonesia signed a letter of intent with the government of Norway to reduce forest-based gas emissions in return for financial support of up to US$1 billion.
'However, the disbursement hasn't been optimal because we haven't got any reference level as a baseline of our progress,' Nur said.
FREL are calculated by a team of experts from the Environment and Forestry Ministry, the Agriculture Ministry, the Geospatial Information Agency (BIG), the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC).
In fact, both BP REDD+ and the forestry ministry published FREL earlier last year but failed to submit them to the UN.
'These FREL are calculated based on the average deforestation rate from 1990 to 2012 while last year they used data from 2000 to 2012. So the figure this year reflects more the government's policies from year to year,' said Rizaldi Boer, the team reviewer from IPB. (rbk)
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