Hendra Gunawan, a taxi driver in Jakarta, received a frantic phone call from his 9-year-old daughter last week.
His daughter, who was home alone at that time, panicked as flood waters rose and entered their home, located in the southern part of Bekasi. Hendra rushed home to secure his daughter and some of his family’s belongings.
“Our housing complex sometimes floods during the rainy season,” he said. “We usually prepare by placing our electronic appliances and food supplies in a higher place, but who would’ve thought of floods in June?”
June is usually known as a month of clear skies, sunny days and hot temperatures in this country. Yet Jakarta and its surrounding areas have been swamped with heavy downpours and floods almost every day since the beginning of this month.
Is it a sign of climate change?
It could be. In fact, climate change is not such a far-fetched threat these days. It is a clear and present danger that lurks behind our daily lives.
“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has published research and surveys by scientists from around the world [on this topic],” said Arif Aliadi, executive director of Lembaga Alam Tropika Indonesia (Latin).
“The results are surprising. Between 1990 and 2005, there has been a rise of global temperature between 0.15 to 0.3 degrees Celsius. If the temperature continues to rise, by 2040, all the glaciers will melt down and cause major floods around the world. Islands will be swallowed and millions of people will die.”
Latin is an NGO that aids local communities by helping them manage their natural resources in collaborative and sustainable ways. Arif said the global problem would have a big local impact.
“[Climate change] is also happening in Indonesia,” he said. “A study by the Bandung Institute of Technology in 2007 revealed that the Jakarta Bay water level rises 0.8 centimeters every year. If the temperature continues to rise, by 2050, areas in Northern Jakarta, such as Kosambi, Penjaringan and Cilincing will be permanently inundated.”
Climate change will not only affect Jakarta. If the global temperature continues to rise, by 2050, Indonesia will lose more than 2,000 islands due to the rising sea level.
Based on studies and research, the IPCC has concluded that the rising level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a main cause of the climate change.
The burning of fossil fuels, such as oil and coal, for human transportation and heating causes the carbon dioxide level to rise.
Another main cause of the rising carbon dioxide level is deforestation.
Deforestation causes an immediate release of carbon dioxide emissions, which were originally carbon stock stored in the trees.
The IPCC also says that reducing and preventing deforestation is the option with the largest and most immediate impact in preventing carbon emissions from being released into the atmosphere.
On May 22, Latin announced its national carbon trading scheme in Jakarta. The scheme is based on the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation scheme, better known as REDD, introduced by the Kyoto Protocol.
The Kyoto Protocol is a 2005 international agreement between countries to decrease their carbon emissions, and it is part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change aimed at fighting global warming.
Developed countries are also allowed to buy carbon credits from developing countries to compensate for their large carbon emissions.
Developing countries then use the money generated from the sales of carbon credits to maintain their forests and improve the lives of their people.
Companies that buy credits from the developing countries can earn the right to use the green label on their products.
The carbon market is one of the fastest-growing financial markets in the world. Its market value has expanded from $10 billion in 2005 to $142 billion in 2010, according to a World Bank report from 2010.
Carbon trading is a lucrative business for Indonesia. A 2010 Forestry Ministry report revealed that Indonesia had more than 132 million hectares of forest.
Unfortunately, more than 30 million hectares of Indonesia’s forests are in critical condition due to illegal logging and deforestation.
The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) in 2008 revealed that there were 48.8 million people living within the forests or their surrounding areas. Approximately 35 million of them live in dire poverty.
“Thus, the carbon trading scheme can provide an ideal solution for these problems [deforestation and poverty],” Arif said. “It’ll encourage people to take good care of their local forests, which in turn will give them financial benefits.”
However, it is not easy to enter the international carbon market. Local farmers and forest land owners need to pass an international-standard test before they are approved for the scheme.
“Buyers want to know for sure of what they are buying. Therefore, local farmers should be able to quantify the carbon stock within the forests with an internationally-approved methodology to earn the buyers’ trusts,” said Fabby Tumiwa, executive director of the Institute for Essential Services Reform.
IESR is an NGO that serves as a think tank for civil communities to inspire, support and encourage reforms in the area of sustainable use of natural resources.
According to Fabby, the carbon stock of a forest lies within its biomass (living organisms) and necromass (dead organisms). Everything has to be sampled and calculated thoroughly and properly to obtain the correct carbon stock amount.
To enter the international carbon market, forests should also be certified by an internationally recognized organization. After receiving the certificate, forests are reviewed on a yearly basis by the organization to keep up the international standard.
“This process is also very costly and time-consuming,” Fabby said.
Because the process is so complex and costly, Latin chose to focus on the national carbon market instead. In its scheme, Latin encourages people and companies in Indonesia to compensate for their carbon footprints by buying carbon credits from local communities that manage the forests.
Since 1995, Latin has been working with local NGOs to develop 10 forest and community areas in Indonesia, including forests in Gunung Kidul in Yogyakarta, Meru Betiri National Park in East Java and Merangin in Jambi, Central Sumatera.
Latin calculates the carbon stock within these forests by using the standard set by the International Center for Research in Agroforestry.
“The huge carbon stock in Indonesian forests has a lot of potential to halt climate change and empower local communities,” Arif said.
Through the national carbon trading scheme, companies and individuals can choose to donate money to fund the project or to buy carbon credits to offset their emissions.
Since its inception, the scheme has attracted quite much public attention.
“Thirty people have supported our reforestation project in Meru Betiri National Park,” Arif said.
“They’ve given personal donations with varying amounts between Rp 50,000 to Rp 1,000,000 [$5.30 to $106]. The total amount of donations for the project is now Rp 9 million.”
The donations will go to a Latin program designed to incentivize farmers to take care of the forests. The program allows the farmers who replant the forests to obtain food supplies from local stores or to seek medication from local community health centers at discounted prices.
From now to mid-2013, Latin will focus on introducing its concept to companies in Indonesia.
“Cigarette, oil and gas and mining companies are those with the largest carbon emissions,” Arif said. “We should encourage them to offset their emissions and create a better living environment for all.”
For more information on the National Carbon Trading scheme, visit www.latin.or.id.