With the economy still affected by the pandemic, the Indonesian government seems to be facing a dilemma between choosing cheap coal energy or new renewable energy which is still expensive to implement.
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After nearly two weeks of intense negotiations on everything about global warming, 197 countries at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) finally agreed to adopt the Glasgow Climate Pact. Despite many restrictions, coal was eventually included in the agreement.
As predicted, talks were tough among the parties who attended in Glasgow, Scotland. Throughout the event, which ran from 31 October to 12 November, the debate was colored by the injustice of rich and poor countries, removing or reducing coal as well as demands for funding commitments and technology transfer from developed countries to developing countries.
With the Covid-19 pandemic, many countries have in fact chosen to abandon climate deals for the sake of recovering the economy. In the "Fossil Fueled 5" compiled by University of Sussex researchers with the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative, it is reported that the United Kingdom, United States, Norway, Canada and Australia have disbursed US$150 billion for fossil energy projects for the recovery phase of the pandemic. Ironically, the US and the six Group of 7 countries have only disbursed $147 billion for renewable energy projects related to climate change. (Kompas, 15/11/2021)
Indonesia is also currently struggling to rise after a big fall caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Given the current economic conditions, it is likely that Indonesia will find it difficult to implement its commitments to tackle climate change. According to the Finance Ministry's Climate-Related Budget Marking Report, the average 2016-2020 budget allocation to deal with climate change was Rp 89.6 trillion per year, far from the projected Rp 266.25 trillion for the 2018-2030 period.
The target of 23 percent new and renewable energy by 2025 has also only been achieved at 12 percent at this time. The General National Energy Plan (RUEN) still mentions the use of fossil energy even up until 2050. According to Government Regulation No. 79 of 2014, the target percentage of natural gas use in 2025 remains 22 percent and in 2050 it will only increase by 2 percent to 24 percent.
The burden will be even heavier since the government is also trying to fulfill its promise to supply electricity to various corners of Indonesia without exception. Even though in many designs there are energy transition efforts to reduce Indonesia's dependence on fossil energy, it will not be easy to make it happen.
With the economy still affected by the pandemic, the Indonesian government seems to be facing a dilemma between choosing cheap coal energy or new renewable energy which is still expensive to implement. Indeed, there are proposals to develop carbon capture technology (from oil and gas) as well as coal gasification and coal liquefaction — both of which convert coal into cleaner hydrocarbon gases and liquid — but it is not easy to realize this on a large scale. What is clear is there must be a balance between resilience, independence, along with sovereignty on energy and Indonesia's commitment to address climate change. This is the homework that must be completed by the government of Indonesia.