In order to bring global warming to a halt, greenhouse gas emission have to be reduced to zero in the coming decades, the OECD says. (GA Photo/Mohammad Defrizal)

Ahead of Paris Climate Talks, OECD Urges Indonesia to End Reliance on Fossil Fuels

BY :BASTIAAN SCHERPEN

NOVEMBER 24, 2015

Jakarta. With the start of key climate talks in Paris just days away, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is calling on Indonesia to stop subsidizing its own demise by promoting the use of fossil fuels.

Rintaro Tamaki, deputy secretary-general of the OECD, said in Jakarta on Tuesday that Southeast Asia is among the regions that are expected to be hit hardest by climate change in the course of this century, so governments should be working toward elimination of greenhouse gas emissions.

Changing rain patterns in Southeast Asia are an example of how global warming could impact countries in the region, Tamaki said, with consequences for crop yields and thus food security.

In order to bring global warming to a halt, greenhouse gas emission have to be reduced to zero in the coming decades, the OECD official said.

"We have to create a society where fossil fuel is not utilized," Tamaki said, speaking through a translator at a conference on disaster resilience organized by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, the Economic Research Institute for Asean and East Asia (ERIA) and the OECD.

Tamaki praised the government of President Joko Widodo for taking the long-overdue step of reducing fuel subsidies earlier this year, but he said a lot more political will is needed to make development truly sustainable --  in Indonesia and beyond.

"It is ironic that countries in Southeast Asia are [still] promoting the use of fossil fuels," Tamaki said.

Coal addiction

Indonesia is the world's No. 1 thermal coal exporter and most of the power in the vast archipelago is generated by coal-fired plants.

Joko's administration aims to add 35,000 megawatts of power generation capacity before the end of his term in 2019, as millions of households are yet to be connected to the nation's electricity grid.

Most of the new plants will be coal-fired.

State electricity firm Perusahaan Listrik Negara has been steadily raising prices for consumers in recent years, but the draft state budget for 2016 still includes Rp 50 trillion ($3.65 billion) for electricity subsidies.

In this year's budget, Rp 73.1 trillion was allocated for electricity subsidies.

UN climate talks

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, also known as COP21, is set to kick off in Paris on Monday.

Rachmat Witoelar, the Indonesian president's special envoy for climate change, previously called the talks a "make-or-break moment for the world."

Indonesia has already pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 29 percent by 2030.

"Just like what [UN Secretary-General] Ban Ki-moon has said, this generation is the first and last generation that can overcome the harming effects of climate change," Rachmat said last month. "If we fail to do so, it's game over for us."

The OECD's Tamaki stressed that for countries like Indonesia it is crucial to keep long-term carbon emission goals in mind when thinking about development of the nation's transportation and energy infrastructure -- both high on the agenda of Joko's administration.

"This will define our lives and those of generations to come," he said.

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