Climate Change Aid Pledges Go Unfulfilled in Indonesia

By webadmin on 09:05 am Sep 17, 2012
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Fidelis E. Satriastanti, ID/Alina Musta’idah & Arientha Primanita

“Indonesia’s fishermen used to be able to go out to sea on average 180 days out of the year,” says Abdul Hakim, an activist from the People’s Coalition for Food Sovereignty.

“Now they can only go out 150 days a year. That’s resulted in a decline in their productivity.”

He blames the problem on higher waves and rougher seas that have increased in frequency in recent years as a result of climate change.

A sprawling archipelago that is highly dependent on maritime activities, Indonesia is widely considered by experts to be at particularly high risk of climate change effects on the world’s oceans.

Abdul acknowledges the seriousness of the threat but says the government doesn’t seem to have taken the same view. In fact, he says, the state has yet to allocate any funding for efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change’s effects.

“There’s nothing, no money to address climate change, even though the fisheries sector will be hard hit by this problem,” he says.

He argues that mitigation and adaptation efforts for the maritime sector alone will require up to 5 percent of the state budget. But even now, he says, the entire budget for the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry is just 0.3 percent of the state budget.

Lack of clarity

The issue of funding for climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts for developing and at-risk countries is expected to be high on the agenda at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference in Doha in November.

The UNFCCC conference in Copenhagen in 2009 drew a commitment from developed countries to set up a Green Climate Fund that would raise $30 billion over the 2010-12 period.

The Copenhagen Accord also agreed to a target “for the world to raise $100 billion per year by 2020, from ‘a wide variety of sources,’ to help developing countries cut carbon emissions,” and promised that “new multilateral funding for adaptation will be delivered, with a governance structure.”

But activists in Indonesia rankle at the lack of details on specific allocations or on progress in emissions-reduction initiatives already being carried out.

“We have absolutely no idea what’s going on with the Green Climate Fund or what they call fast-start financing,” says Dani Setiawan, chairman of the Anti-Debt Coalition. “What’s been achieved? What progress is being made? Nothing’s being published.”

He says the 2010-12 funding that developed nations committed to providing now amounts to $28.2 billion but emphasizes that much of it is not “new and additional,” as stipulated in the Copenhagen Accord.

“Several countries have simply included commitments into this fund that they had previously committed elsewhere,” he says.

“So, a lot of the climate funding for developing countries like Indonesia has strings attached.”

Dani says he is skeptical that any agreement on a clear funding mechanism will be ironed out at the Doha talks.

“Given the ongoing global economic crisis and the lack of clarity on the funding issue at a recent conference in Bangkok, it will be difficult to resolve this issue at Doha,” he says.

Self-reliance

That pessimism is shared by Siti Maimunah, coordinator of the Civil Society Forum for Climate Justice (CSF).

“What we’re sure about is that the effects of climate change will increase and spread,” she says.

“What’s not certain, though, is that the talks will result in policies to protect communities from these effects.”

A senior government official, however, says Indonesia should not depend on international funding for its mitigation and adaptation programs.

Adapting to climate change effects, says Arief Yuwono, the environment minister’s deputy for environmental damage and climate change, can be incorporated into existing programs with the involvement of local communities.

“Adaptation is different from mitigation, where the funding comes after the fact,” he says.

“With adaptation, it’s about building up the community’s resilience. And you don’t necessarily need funding to do this. You can do it by getting people to participate in [environmental preservation] programs or by increasing efficiency in existing programs.”

He cites an ongoing Forestry Ministry program to plant mangroves along coastal areas as one example of a climate change adaptation program that is not specifically categorized as such.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) acknowledges that the policies are out there, but says they need to be more consistent and better coordinated.

“There are a lot of government policies [on sustainable development], but they need to be more consistent,” says Efransjah, head of WWF Indonesia. “I’m positive that over the next two years, the president will be able to achieve a lot.”

Minimal commitments

At the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh in 2009, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced to the world an ambitious target to reduce Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2020, or by 41 percent with international assistance.

Boen Purnama, the forestry minister’s adviser on forestry strategy and policy, insists that Indonesia is carrying out “real actions” on mitigating climate change through its forestry sector, but that the international community has yet to take notice.

“Every country has a responsibility toward addressing climate change,” he says, arguing that developed countries must accept a larger share of the burden because of their higher per capita emissions.

He also says funding commitments by developed countries to developing nations under a Payments for Ecosystem Services mechanism have not been fully realized.

“Funding for developing countries under the PES mechanism is still very minimal,” Boen says.

But Dieter Brulez, coordinator of climate change priority areas at the Indonesian office of the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), says the commitments still hold.

“We’re currently re-evaluating our funding priorities, specifically for climate change, to focus more on mitigation programs,” he says. “For climate change adaptation, we hope that it can be integrated [into other programs].”

The GIZ is currently involved in an A$1.25 million ($1.3 million) climate change vulnerability and adaptation assessment in the East Kalimantan city of Tarakan, as well as Malang in East Java and the province of South Sumatra, funded by the Australian government.

Strong position

Siti from the CSF is adamant that the issue of climate funding will not be resolved in Doha, citing the reluctance of major developing countries like China and India to commit to binding emissions reductions targets.

She believes that although civil society will have its voice heard, it will not be loud enough to drive home the importance of the need for climate funding mechanisms for adaptation to be cleared up.

“If you look back at the Copenhagen talks, the civil society representation was quite strong and united but still failed,” she says, adding that the major emitters will likely use stalling tactics at the Doha talks to thwart any meaningful binding resolutions.

Dani from the Anti-Debt Coalition warns that with governments almost certain not to reach a deal in November, the prospect of a private sector-led carbon-trading mechanism looms large, with all its attendant disadvantages for small communities.

“It won’t be about reducing emissions at that point. It will be about shaping a new form of capitalism,” he says.

He adds that given Indonesia’s prominence as a forest country and its representation of the Asia-Pacific region in the Green Climate Fund committee, Indonesia should be able to push for the interests of developing countries to be addressed more adequately.

“Indonesia’s position is quite strong. The question, though, is whether it can use that position to address the interests of those who will be affected the most by climate change, such as fishermen and farmers,” Dani says. “Or will it just go along with the others?”