Is Indonesia’s commitment to mitigate climate change compatible with its bioenergy policies?

Our latest blog comes from Merdiani Aghnia Mokobombang, a student on our MSc in Sustainable Energy Futures course, who we met previously when Introducing the Class of 2016. As a native of Indonesia her research project is looking at the country’s bioenergy policy and its potential clash with their commitments to combatting climate change.

I was always have an interest in bioenergy since my bachelor’s degree in Bioengineering at Institut Teknologi Bandung, Indonesia. My studies on the MSc Sustainable Energy Futures have provided me with a broader knowledge of low-carbon energy, its relation to economics and policy and how it supports climate change mitigation. My particular area of interest is in renewable energy in developing countries, especially in my home country of Indonesia.

I believe Indonesia can make a major impact in achieving the climate change mitigation target of keeping global warming below 2ᵒC. Yet, the deployment of renewables and the policies have been slow due to some issues on availability of feedstock, the infrastructure, and inconsistencies in policy decisions. I chose to look at Indonesia’s policy and its efforts to mitigate climate change as my thesis’ topic because I believe this topic covers current issue in renewable energy in Indonesia. I hope it can contribute to energy policy strategies for decision makers and make a projection for their actions in the future.

Merdiani Aghnia Mokobombang

Indonesia, as an archipelagic country located in the global ocean conveyor belt, is facing the possibility of severe impacts from climate change-driven natural disasters. To combat this the government of Indonesia has taken climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies into consideration in their plans to build resilience in food, water and energy for the country’s population.

At the COP21 meeting in Paris last year Indonesia committed to “reduce unconditionally 26% of its greenhouse gases against the business as usual scenario by the year 2020″. This Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) [PDF] will be implemented through a range of measures, including the protection and conservation in the area of Land-Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF). However, the needs for bioenergy in Indonesia’s energy mix will constrain plantation locations and affect LULUCF emissions.

According to Indonesia’s Second National Communication of 2010 [PDF], national greenhouse gas emissions increased between 2000 and 2010. Putting this in context 63% of these emissions were the result of land-use change and peat and forest fires. The future deployment of any new bioenergy policies to meet its commitment to mitigate climate change will require consulting the stakeholders involved, reducing CO2 emissions, managing energy demand and careful development planning and implementation.

Indonesia has already embarked on a renewable energy policy with a target of at least 23% renewables on a mixed energy use by 2025. From this number, around 5% is expected from biofuels and another 5% from biomass waste. This policy is expected to move Indonesia along the path of de-carbonisation. Although several measures have been taken by the government to ensure bioenergy plantations do not cause deforestation and land-use change, some of these measures are seen as weakly enforced and not enough to promote sustainable bioenergy production.

My thesis research will present an assessment of Indonesia’s bioenergy policies. I will relate them to LULUCF sector emissions, using the Adopted Indonesia Pathway Calculator and the COP21 Climate Change Calculator to estimate the carbon emissions. My work will also relate the projected emissions to Indonesia’s commitments in the INDC and investigate the policy framework and the barriers to meeting Indonesia’s commitment. Finally I hope to provide suggestions to solve the issues and help make Indonesia’s bioenergy policies compatible with their INDC.

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