in Indonesia, West Papua

Indonesia’s climate promises and policy incoherence

Indonesia's climate promises and policy incoherenceIndonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono likes to make promises. Particularly at international meetings. At last year’s G-8 summit in Japan, Yudhoyono committed to reducing carbon emissions from deforestation by 50 per cent by the end of this year, 74 per cent by 2012 and 95 per cent by 2025.

This year, at the G-20 summit in the USA, he said, “I do believe that it is much better for all of us to have our own targets, timeline and action plan which we can constantly update and improve.” Yudhoyono updated his targets on reducing deforestation, but he certainly did not improve them.

In fact, he didn’t mention any specific targets on reducing emissions from deforestation (presumably because this would have involved admitting that Indonesia had failed to meet the target Yudhoyono committed to last year in Japan). Instead, Yudhoyono promised that “We will change the status of our forests from that of a net emitter sector to a net sink sector by 2030.” This is nothing more than a promise (to which no one can hold Yudhoyono accountable) that in 21 years’ time (by which time it is extremely unlikely that Yudhoyono will still be President) the amount of carbon absorbed by Indonesia’s forests will be more than the amount emitted.

In the 14 months between the two meetings an area of around two million hectares of Indonesia’s forests has gone. At the UN climate negotiations in Poznan, Arief Wicanksono, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Political Advisor, said “Six months on from his Hokkaido commitment, we have seen little action to address Indonesia’s rampant deforestation. We urge President Yudhoyono to implement an immediate moratorium on all forest conversion, including expansion of oil palm plantations, industrial logging, and other drivers of deforestation.” Unfortunately, the Indonesian government seems to be doing the reverse.

In a recent study, Indonesia’s National Climate Change Council states that Indonesia’s carbon emissions could be reduced by more than 40 per cent over the next 20 years against “Business as Usual” projections. About 84 per cent of Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions comes from deforestation and degradation of peat lands. The National Climate Change Council estimates that cutting emissions by 40 per cent would cost about US$32 billion.

Agus Purnomo, the executive secretary of the National Council on Climate Change, states that “over time, five years, seven years, perhaps 10 years, then we will have all the elements of REDD in place, then we can come up with high quality REDD projects for the carbon market to pay.” Until the REDD mechanism is working, Indonesia will continue to deforest: “We are not hinting that that Indonesia needs to stop breathing, or need to stop cutting trees, no,” Purnomo told Voice of America in September 2009.

Earlier this year, the government quietly lifted a ban on using peatlands for oil palm plantations and allowed pulp companies to log native forests. Up to 2 million hectares of peatlands could be converted to oil palm plantations. Even if the land is not cleared by burning, draining peatlands (which is necessary to grow oil palm) releases vast amounts of carbon dioxide because when the peat is exposed to air it oxidises and decomposes.

The government hopes for massive expansion of both the oil palm and pulp and paper industries, with plans for an additional 20 million hectares of oil palm plantations and nine million hectares of new pulpwood plantations. Inevitably, this will involve conversion of forests to industrial tree plantations.

A recent report by the Environmental Investigation Agency and Telapak in Papua and West Papua Provinces describes how five million hectares of mainly forested land is under threat from oil palm and other biofuel plantations. “Companies are tricking Papuans into giving up their land for oil palm plantations based on empty promises about their future welfare,” Hapsoro of Telapak said. “This is all happening with the backing of the government in the name of development.” Jago Wadley of EIA adds that “this is policy incoherence of the highest order.”

The government is also considering plans to allow mining companies to operate in protected areas. “We are now reviewing articles prohibiting mining activities in conservation forests,” Daruri, the Director general for forest protection and natural conservation at the Forestry Ministry, said in November 2009.

Meanwhile, illegal logging continues. Corruption in the forestry sector has not been addressed. A recent report by Human Rights Watch Asia estimates that the government loses US$2 billion every year as a result of corruption, illegal logging and mismanagement. Joe Saunders of Human Rights Watch says, “Until the lack of oversight and conflicts of interest are taken seriously, pouring more money into the leaky system from carbon trading is likely to make the problem worse, not better.”

The government has warned local authorities to beware of fake carbon brokers who offer promises of money from REDD. Forestry Ministry official Wandojo Siswanto told the Jakarta Post that “Regents and mayors in Kalimantan and Sumatra have been offered such promises. The brokers who claimed to be carbon developers launch intensive campaigns to convince regents to sign the MoUs. But at the moment not a single cent goes to local administrations.”

Many local administrations remain unaware of REDD. “Until now, there has been no institution dealing with the REDD at provincial and regency levels, making it difficult to disseminate the issue,” Onrizal, a forestry expert from North Sumatra, told the Jakarta Post. Even worse, local people are completely in the dark. “We cannot decide whether we would accept or not because we have had no information at all,” Jajang Kurniawan a farmer in West Java told film makers LifeMosaic. “The name of the programme is very foreign to us. What is this REDD? What kind of animal is it, we just don’t know.”

“Indonesia hasn’t shown the ability to prevent deforestation,” as Timothy H Brown, senior natural resources management specialist at the World Bank in Jakarta, drily told the Jakarta Globe in December 2009. But claims that REDD will stop deforestation are nonsense as long as the government encourages the expansion of the industries that cause deforestation.

This post was originally published in Down to Earth’s Newsletter No. 83, December 2009.

UPDATE (2 August 2010): Down to Earth has translated the article to Bahasa Indonesia:

Down to Earth No.83, Maret 2009

Janji-janji Indonesia mengenai iklim dan kebijakannya yang tak jelas

Oleh Chris Lang.1

Presiden Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono senang mengumbar janji. Terutama di pertemuan-pertemuan internasional. Pada Konferensi Tingkat Tinggi G-8 di Jepang tahun lalu, SBY berkomitmen untuk mengurangi emisi karbon dari deforestasi sebesar 50 persen pada akhir tahun ini, 74 persen pada tahun 2012 dan 95 persen pada tahun 2025.2

Tahun ini, dalam KTT G-20 di AS, dia berkata “Saya percaya bahwa jauh lebih baik bagi kita semua kalau kita memiliki target kita sendiri, jadwal dan rencana aksi yand dapat kita perbarui dan tingkatkan secara terus-menerus.” SBY memperbarui target-targetnya dalam pengurangan deforestasi, tetapi jelas dia tidak meningkatkannya. Nyatanya, dia tidak menyebutkan target khusus tentang pengurangan emisi dari deforestasi (kalau ini disebutkan, maka bisa jadi Indonesia mau tidak mau harus mengakui kegagalannya dalam memenuhi target yang menjadi komitmen SBY tahun lalu di Jepang). Alih-alih, SBY berjanji bahwa “Kami akan mengubah status hutan kami dari net emitter (penghasil karbon) menjadi net sink (penyimpan karbon) pada tahun 2030.”3 Ini tak lebih dari sekadar janji (tak akan ada yang dapat meminta pertanggungjawaban SBY) bahwa dalam tempo 21 tahun (ketika itu sangat kecil kemungkinannya bahwa SBY masih menjabat sebagai presiden) jumlah karbon yang diserap oleh hutan di Indonesia akan lebih besar daripada yang dikeluarkan.

Selama 14 bulan di antara ke dua pertemuan itu, lahan seluas sekitar dua juta hektar dalam hutan Indonesia telah lenyap. Dalam negosiasi iklim PBB di Poznan, Arief Wicaksono, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Political Advisor, berkata “Enam bulan setelah dia menyampaikan komitmennya di Hokkaido, kami melihat tak banyak yang dilakukan untuk mengatasi deforestasi di Indonesia yang merajalela. Kami mendesak Presiden Yudhoyono untuk segera menerapkan moratorium atas semua konversi hutan, termasuk perluasan perkebunan kelapa sawit, penebangan untuk industri, dan kegiatan lain yang memicu deforestasi.”4 Sayangnya, pemerintah Indonesia tampaknya malah melakukan yang sebaliknya.

Dalam suatu kajian baru-baru ini, Dewan Perubahan Iklim Nasional menyatakan bahwa emisi karbon Indonesia dapat dikurangi sebanyak lebih dari 40 persen selama 20 tahun mendatang dengan tidak menerapkan prinsip ‘Beraktivitas seperti Biasa’ (Business as Usual) (lihat artikel sebelumnya). Sekitar 84 persen emisi gas rumah kaca Indonesia berasal dari deforestasi dan degradasi lahan gambut. Dewan Perubahan Iklim Nasional memperkirakan bahwa pengurangan emisi sebesar 40 pesen akan menelan biaya sekitar US$32 miliar.

Agus Purnomo, Sekretaris Eksekutif Dewan Perubahan Iklim Nasional, menyatakan bahwa “dengan berlalunya waktu, lima tahun, tujuh tahun, mungkin 10 tahun, kami akan memiliki semua elemen REDD, kemudian kami dapat menawarkan proyek REDD yang bermutu tinggi untuk dibayar oleh pasar karbon.” Sebelum mekanisme REDD berjalan, hutan di Indonesia akan terus ditebangi: “Kami tidak mengindikasikan bahwa Indonesia perlu berhenti bernapas atau berhenti menebangi hutan, tidak,” kata Purnomo kepada Voice of America bulan September 2009.5

Awal tahun ini, pemerintah diam-diam menarik larangan penggunaan lahan gambut bagi perkebunan kelapa sawit6 dan mengizinkan perusahaan bubur kayu untuk menebang hutan asli. Hingga 2 juta hektar lahan gambut dapat dikonversi menjadi perkebunan sawit. Bahkan jika lahan itu tidak dibuka dengan cara membakarnya, pengeringan lahan gambut (yang diperlukan untuk menanam kelapa sawit) mengeluarkan sejumlah besar karbon dioksida karena ketika terpapar ke udara gambutakan teriosidasi dan terurai.7

Perluasan besar-besaran

Pemerintah mengharapkan adanya perluasan besar-besaran dalam industri minyak sawit dan kertas serta bubur kertas, dengan adanya rencana penambahan 20 juta hektar perkebunan sawit dan 10 juta hektar perkebunan baru untuk tanaman penghasil bubur kayu. Alih fungsi hutan menjadi perkebunan tanaman industri pun tak akan terhindarkan.

Laporan baru-baru ini oleh Environmental Investigation Agency dan Telapak di provinsi Papua dan Papua Barat menggambarkan bagaimana lima juta hektar tanah yang sebagian besar berupa lahan hutan terancam oleh perkebunan kelapa sawit dan tanaman bahan bakar nabati (biofuels) lainnya. “Perusahaan menipu warga Papua sehingga mereka menyerahkan tanah mereka untuk perkebunan kelapa sawit atas dasar janji-janji kosong mengenai kesejahteraan mereka di masa mendatang,” kata Hapsoro dari Telapak.8 “Ini semua terjadi dengan dukungan pemerintah atas nama pembangunan.” Jago Wadley dari EIA menambahkan “ini adalah kebijakan yang tak jelas dari tataran tertinggi”

Pemerintah juga tengah mempertimbangkan rencana untuk mengizinkan perusahaan pertambangan beroperasi di daerah-daerah yang dilindungi. “Kami tengah mengkaji pasal-pasal yang melarang kegiatan pertambangan di hutan konservasi, “kata Daruri, Dirjen Perlindungan Hutan dan Pelestarian Alam, Kementerian Kehutanan, pada bulan November 2009.9

Sementara itu, pembalakan liar berlanjut. Korupsi dalam sektor kehutanan belum ditangani. Laporan baru-baru ini oleh Human Rights Watch Asia10 memperkirakan bahwa pemerintah mengalami kerugian US$2 miliar setiap tahunnya karena korupsi, pembalakan liar dan manajemen yang buruk. Joe Saunders dari Human Rights Watch berujar, “Sebelum kurangnya pengawasan dan konflik kepentingan ditangani dengan serius, pengucuran lebih banyak uang hasil perdagangan karbon ke sistem yang bocor tampaknya bakal membuat masalah menjadi semakin buruk, bukan membaik.”11

Pemerintah pusat telah mengingatkan pemerintah daerah untuk berhati-hati terhadap makelar karbon palsu yang menawarkan janji uang dari REDD. Pejabat Kementerian Kehutanan Wandojo Siswanto mengatakan kepada The Jakarta Post bahwa “Bupati dan walikota di Kalimantan dan Sumatra telah ditawari janji-janji semacam itu. Makelar yang mengklaim sebagai pengembang karbon melakukan kampanye intensif untuk meyakinkan para bupati agar menandatangani Nota Kesepahaman. Tetapi saat ini tak ada satu sen pun yang diterima pemerintah setempat.”12

Banyak pemda yang masih juga belum mengetahui mengenai REDD. “Hingga saat ini belum ada institusi yang menangani REDD di tingkat provinsi dan kabupaten, sehingga sulit untuk menyebarluaskan isu ini,” Onrizal, ahli kehutanan dari Sumatra Utara, mengatakan kepada The Jakarta Post.13 Yang lebih parah, masyarakat setempat sama sekali tak tahu menahu mengenai hal itu. “Kami tak dapat memutuskan apakah kami akan menerima atau tidak karena kami tak mempunyai informasi barang sedikit pun,” Jajang Kurniawan, petani asal Jawa Barat, mengatakan kepada pembuat film LifeMosaic.14 “Nama program itu sangat asing bagi kami. Apa itu REDD? Hewan apakah itu, kami betul-betul tidak tahu.”

“Indonesia belum menunjukkan kemampuan untuk mencegah deforestasi,” kata Timothy H Brown, spesialis manajemen sumber daya alam senior Bank Dunia di Jakarta, tanpa basa-basi kepada Jakarta Globe bulan Desember 2009.15 Tetapi klaim bahwa REDD akan menghentikan deforestasi merupakan omong kosong selama pemerintah masih mendorong perluasan industri yang menyebabkan deforestasi.

1 Chris Lang menggunakan situs web pelacakan REDD REDD-Monitor. Lihat

PHOTO Credit: Palma Satu concession belonging to the Duta Palma Group, Greenpeace/Novis.

Leave a Reply

  1. It comes as no surprise that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has made promises – it is what he is known for when it comes to the environment. But, he never keeps them. It is all about telling people what they want to hear in return for more foreign aid.

    The crazy thing is foreign governments and the EU keep on sending Indonesia money to protect forests when it is government policy in Indonesia to log the forests and preferably as quickly as possible.
    Sean Whyte

  2. @Jenny – thanks for this. So according to the Sydney Morning Herald there’s going to a carbon tax on combustion of fossil fuels. Indonesia will develop geothermal power. And, “Indonesia would rely heavily on selling carbon credits to developed countries to stop deforestation.”

    This proposal comes from a climate change policy paper commissioned by the Indonesian Finance Ministry, apparently independently of the National Council on Climate Change. “Policy incoherence” doesn’t seem like such a bad description after all.

  3. Dear Chris…. I agree that REDD is something new for people in grassroots community…. the benefit of REDD for local people hasn’t clear too. So….. clearly information is needed, if Government commited to REDD.

  4. Yeah, there’s a oontradiction there indeed. Maybe carbon trading’s plan A and Carbon tax is plan B?

  5. I think there had been lots of REDD Workshops in Indonesia, well I’ve attended one of them. It’s just because the workshop hasn’t reached lots of people who are supposed to support this program.