Indonesia looks to increase emissions cut pledge ahead of Paris meet

Indonesia is looking to increase its current pledges on cutting emissions growth, a senior government adviser said on Monday, with a final decision likely by mid-September.

Home to the world’s third-largest tropical forests, and the biggest palm oil producer, Indonesia will have a key role at the United Nation’s Paris climate conference late this year, which is designed to reach a plan to reduce global warming.

“We intend to increase the contribution and we will do so,” Rachmat Witoelar, President Joko Widodo’s special envoy for climate change, told Reuters. “But we have to figure out the timeline.”

Indonesia is among the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters because of deforestation, peatland degradation and forest fires.

Southeast Asia’s largest economy is under international pressure to curb deforestation and the destruction of carbon-rich peatlands and forests that many palm oil and mining companies say they need for expansion.

Under Widodo’s predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the country imposed a moratorium on clearing forest under a $1-billion climate deal with Norway, and committed to curb emissions growth by 26 percent by 2020 or up to 41 percent with cash and other support from rich nations.

Witoelar, who was in the same role under Yudhoyono and is a former minister for the environment, was unable to give a figure on how much higher the emission targets may go, but said a 10-day consultation with stakeholders would soon begin with a final decision likely by mid-September.

Indonesia had cut its emissions growth beyond 13 per cent at the half way stage of the current target timeline, he said, adding that geothermal power and public transport projects would help it reach 26 percent by 2020.

Widodo, who took office in October, has set ambitious infrastructure targets including a five-year plan to add an additional 35,000 megawatts of power capacity to the current 50,000 megawatts.

As the biggest exporter of thermal coal, the majority of these plants will likely be coal-powered, and last week Widodo was at the launch of the construction of Southeast Asia’s largest coal-fired power plant in central Java.

“Even with that (power plant), we can fulfill,” added Witoelar, speaking at his Jakarta offices after meeting Widodo to discuss the Paris conference agenda.

“We are convinced that if we don’t increase the world emissions cuts, the planet will be destroyed.”

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