Welcome to the first of our newsletter series focused on Indonesia, Southeast Asia's largest country by population, economy, natural resources and climate pollution.
It wasn't long ago that Indonesia was the region's energy transition laggard. Its pivot from coal to renewables was snail-paced. Installed renewables capacity was – and still is – much higher in neighbouring Vietnam and Thailand. But now the narrative is changing. Indonesia has hinted that its future is not wedded to coal, of which it is the world's biggest exporter, and it can become a renewables powerhouse owing in part to its vast reserves of transition minerals.
To make what will be a painful transition, Indonesia wants foreign aid and technology. The landmark Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) is a US$20 billion jump-start. But Indonesia will require trillions to transition.
Indonesia also wants rich countries to acknowledge that their historical progress has been built on burning fossil fuels, so they should stop lecturing the Global South about how it develops. As Arsjad Rasjid, chairman of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council and also boss of a large coal company says, (you can read the interview in Bahasa too) "it takes two to tango".
Our interview with the men behind the decarbonisation of one of Indonesia's largest steel companies, Gunung Raja Paksi, bears out the challenges Indonesian firms face in transitioning.
We also look at how the European Union's deforestation law affects the certification of palm oil, of which Indonesia is the world's biggest producer, and the issues that haunt the construction of Indonesia's new capital city, on the biodiverse island of Borneo.
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