The Jakarta Post
Indonesia is expected to receive another grant for its efforts to reduce carbon emissions and deforestation, despite the numerous devastating forest and land fires of the past few years.
The government is set to receive a grant of US$103.8 million from the Green Climate Fund (GCF), after an announcement at the 26th meeting of the fund’s administrators from Aug. 18 to 21.
The grant is to be awarded through the results-based payment scheme of the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) initiative based on Indonesia’s claim of having avoided 20.3 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions between 2014 and 2016.
“This is further proof of Indonesia’s commitment to mitigating climate change,” Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said during a virtual press conference on Thursday.
Under the 2016 Paris Agreement, the landmark pact of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Indonesia vowed to reduce its emissions by 29 percent against a business as usual projection by 2030, and up to 41 percent with international assistance.
Based on its second Biennial Update Report (BUR-2) on the Environment in 2018, the government would need at least $247.2 billion to be able to achieve its emissions reduction target.
Over the past five years, about 3.9 percent of the annual state budget, or Rp 89.6 trillion ($6.13 billion), has been allocated for climate change mitigation.
The GCF grant is another incentive from international donors Indonesia has received as part of its commitment to combating deforestation.
In late May, the government announced it was eligible to receive $56 million from Norway also under the REDD+ scheme but based on a bilateral agreement.
“We congratulate the environment and forestry minister and her team for successfully getting approval for the grant from the GCF, which is based on emission reductions and deforestation mitigation pursuant of REDD+,” said Finance Minister Sri Mulyani during the virtual event.
She said the funds would be channeled through the Environmental Estate Fund (BPDLH), a public service agency under the Finance Ministry tasked with managing funds for environmental protection and conservation.
The grant is to be used over the course of four years to support the implementation of REDD+ and improve provincial forest management, the minister added.
Sri Mulyani said the government was also currently pursuing other environmental grants, including the Forest Carbon Partnership and BioCarbon Fund schemes, which would net the government $110 million and $60 million, respectively.
She also said her ministry had introduced climate change mitigation measures such as tax incentives for the renewable energy industry, climate budget tagging and green bonds, among other things.
The GCF grant was approved even as the country continues to face the annual threat of wildfires, which has peaked in recent years.
According to Environment and Forestry Ministry data, 1.65 million hectares of forests were lost to fires last year, second only to the 2.61 million ha that burned during the massive 2015 fires.
The 2015 fires were considered the worst in two decades, costing the country more than $16 billion. The highest annual rate came between 1996 and 2000 when 3.5 million ha of forest burned.
To date, 38,772 ha of forest has burned in 2020.
However, the awarding of the grants has not been without criticism.
A group of civil society organizations issued an open letter regarding the disbursement of the GCF REDD+ funds to Indonesia and Colombia, arguing that the countries’ emission reduction claims were not accurate, in part due to the period-based selective data parsing.
“The majority of REDD+ emission reductions claimed must thus be regarded as paper reductions that bear little resemblance to the actual emissions that were avoided,” environmentalists said on Aug. 17.
The letter’s signatories, comprising 85 civil society groups including 15 from Indonesia, called on the GCF Board to refrain from approving future REDD+ funding requests.
The government initially applied for the GCF grants based on its achievements between 2013 and 2017, but only results collected between 2014 and 2016 were approved by the GCF board.
According to official data, Indonesia lost 493,300 ha of forests in 2017 and 2018, although 53,900 ha of forest cover was replanted, trimming the net loss to 439,400 ha.
From 2018 to 2019, Indonesia lost 465,500 ha of forests and replanted just 3,100 ha, bringing the net forest cover loss to 462,400 ha.
Minister Siti acknowledged that the open letter had been discussed during the recent GCF board meeting.
“What we must understand is that this [long] process followed the proper methodology, systems and data in a transparent manner, and was verified by an entity accredited by the UNFCCC, which is [part of] the UNDP [UN Development Program],” she said.