Indonesia unveils plans for green growth

Indonesia’s planning minister, Bambang Brodjonegoro, has unveiled plans for sustainable economic development from 2020 that could deliver growth of up to 6 per cent over the next 25 years.

The Low Carbon Development Initiative (LCDI) looks to address Indonesia’s atrocious record as the world’s third-largest greenhouse gas emitter after the United States and China, largely because of its environmentally ruinous palm oil sector.

Brodjonegoro said: “For the first time, Indonesia will systematically mainstream [low-carbon development] into development planning. The progress of our growth is not only measured by GDP, but also environmental sustainability, resource efficiency and social justice. This transformation is both exciting and challenging.”

Brodjonegoro released a report with the World Resources Institute, a global research group, and the UK, Norway and Germany.

Most challenging for Jakarta is the issue of palm oil production, which is a key economic driver, a major employer and managed by highly influential business interests.

There is an 85-per-cent loss of biodiversity in an ecosystem when plantations are created from the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems. Orangutans, tigers, rhinos and elephants are losing their habitats and becoming increasingly endangered or extinct.

Low-carbon policies would enable Indonesia to cut emissions by 43 per cent by 2030, exceeding the country’s current target of 41 per cent made under the 2015 Paris climate agreement, the report estimated.

It projected that growth would reach around 6 per cent by 2030.

The economy was currently growing at about 5 per cent but at a heavy environmental toll, meaning GDP growth would fall below 5 per cent after 2020 amid ecological degradation, Brodjonegoro said.

He proposed more sustainable targets with the government adopting policies to increase agricultural productivity and end deforestation, he said.

The policies would ensure the sprawling archipelago kept 41.1 million hectares of primary forests, including nearly 15 million hectares of peatland by 2045, the minister said.

The authorities would improve waste management and try to boost renewable energy sources to move away from fossil fuels, the minister said. Indonesia could generate 15.3 million jobs and save about 16 million hectares of forest by 2045 through environmental development projects, the report argued.

According to the WWF, every hour an area of rainforest the size of 300 football fields is cleared for palm oil to be grown on.

A third of all Indonesian mammal species are now estimated to be critically endangered as a result of deforestation, largely for palm oil.

Low-carbon development policies would be included in the next medium-term development plan for 2020-24, Brodjonegoro’s report said.

Environmentalists will wait to see evidence on the ground in Indonesia. Picture credit: Wikimedia