Villages Play Part In Combatting Climate Change
Fidelis E. Satriastanti
Indonesia has earned much praise for its ambitious target to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2020, or 41 percent if international assistance is forthcoming, but how the government plans to get ordinary citizens involved has been largely glossed over.
Now, though, a grassroots campaign is emerging that will engage residents in the effort by evaluating any contribution they had already made toward helping reduce emissions.
The initiative, dubbed “1,000 Kampung Iklim” (“1,000 Climate Villages”), is set to be launched next month by the Environment Ministry.
“The idea is to bring together villages that have already set up initiatives and programs related to tackling climate change or reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said Arif Yuwono, the deputy for environmental damage control and climate change.
“The criteria have already been determined by the ministry. We then evaluate their emissions reductions.”
The criteria for villages participating in the initiative include tree-planting programs and biofuel-generation projects, among other efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Arif says that once the figures from all the villages participating in the program nationwide are accounted for, “it could contribute significantly toward the emissions reduction target.”
However, he did not say what proportion of the overall target the participating villages might represent.
Besides villages, the government is also looking to get state institutions and private companies involved in reporting their own existing emissions-cutting schemes and to roll out even more.
“Besides the villages, we’re also targeting big companies and government bodies to cut emissions, which we hope will eventually lead to a mass movement,” Arif said.
He cited the case of Indrokilo village, a small settlement on the slope of Mount Ungaran in Central Java, which has been tackling climate change in its own ways.
“Their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is very original, to the extent that they don’t even realize that they are doing it,” he said.
“What they’re essentially doing is collecting up all the cow dung in the village and using it as compost or generating bio-gas from it.
“But it’s not only that. They’ve also started up a climate school on their own initiative.
“So they’re teaching about the issue of climate change from village to village. It’s not some scientific lecture of the kind that you usually get from the central government. They’re spreading out the information in their own language.”
But although the government insists that the climate villages initiative is a positive movement to formally acknowledge community-led efforts to reduce emissions and encourage more such programs, climate change activists have their reservations.
Siti Maimunah, coordinator of the Climate Justice Society (CSF), said the initiative still did not address the core issue of climate change, adding that she was concerned that it was simply another attempt by the government to appear to be doing something on this front.
“It’s good, but I’m afraid that it will oversimplify the issue of climate change impacts and the need for adaptation,” she said.
“The program doesn’t seem to be integrated with other programs, such as the Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Ministry’s similar initiative, which it calls the ‘Desa Tangguh’ [‘Strong Village’] program.”
Siti also said it was unfair to make participation in the climate village program contingent on a set of criteria.
“Where’s the climate justice in that?” she said.
“If they want to talk about climate villages, then they should include agricultural reform.
“People in villages are already living in low-carbon growth so what else can they reduce?”