Sustainability |

A Pivotal Moment in the Fight against Climate Change

SUSTAINABILITY | 16 November 2021

In November, United Kingdom together with partners Italy, hosted an event many believed to be the world’s best last chance to get runaway climate change under control.

For nearly three decades the UN has been bringing together almost every country on earth for global climate summits – called COPs – which stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’. In that time climate change has gone from being a fringe issue to a global priority.

This year is the 26th annual summit – giving it the name COP26. With the UK as President, COP26 took place in Glasgow.

In the run up to COP26 the UK worked with every nation to reach agreement on how to tackle climate change. World leaders have arrived in Scotland, alongside tens of thousands of negotiators, government representatives, businesses and citizens for twelve days of talks.

Not only was it a huge task but it was also not just another international summit. Most experts believed COP26 has a unique urgency. To understand why, it’s necessary to look back to another COP.
The importance of the Paris Agreement or COP21 took place in Paris in 2015.

For the first time ever, something momentous happened: every country agreed to work together to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees and aim for 1.5 degrees, to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate and to make money available to deliver on these aims.

Under the Paris Agreement, countries committed to bring forward national plans setting out how much they would reduce their emissions – known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or ‘NDCs’.

They agreed that every five years they would come back with an updated plan that would reflect their highest possible ambition at that time. Glasgow was the moment for countries to updated their plans.
The run up to this year’s summit in Glasgow was the moment (delayed by a year due to the pandemic) when countries updated their plans for reducing emissions.

What do countries need to achieve at COP26?
1.    Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach
Countries are being asked to come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reductions targets that align with reaching net zero by the middle of the century.

2.    Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats
The climate is already changing and it will continue to change even as we reduce emissions, with devastating effects.

3.    Mobilise finance
To deliver on our first two goals, developed countries must make good on their promise to mobilise at least $100bn in climate finance per year by 2020.
International financial institutions must play their part and we need work towards unleashing the trillions in private and public sector finance required to secure global net zero.

4.    Work together to deliver
We can only rise to the challenges of the climate crisis by working together.

Indonesia involvement in promises to ‘Gradually’ Stops Coal Energy
The Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) highlighted the points of agreement to gradually phase out coal energy in the Glasgow Climate Pact as a result of the climate change summit (COP26) in Glasgow (The Glasgow Pact).

Although Indonesia only endorsed three of the pledge's four clauses – with the exception of Clause 3, which deals with issuing new permits for coal-fired projects – it was a positive step forward from the world's largest coal exporter and one of the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases, of which coal accounts for a significant portion.

Indonesia said it would "explore accelerating coal phase out" into the 2040s if it received foreign financial and technical assistance, and that it would attain net zero by 2060, or sooner with international assistance. In many ways, the caution was appropriate. After all, wealthier countries are the primary source of global emissions, while developing countries bear the brunt of the consequences.

Indonesia deserves to be supported in these efforts, but it also deserves to be scrutinized. After all, Indonesia appeared to renege on its pledges just days after signing a vow to stop deforestation by 2030, the first big statement at COP26, with Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar reportedly declaring the pledge "obviously unsuitable and unfair." Nonetheless, Indonesia lost more than 26 million hectares of forest between 2001 and 2019, a 17 percent loss in tree cover since the turn of the century and one of Southeast Asia's major sources of greenhouse gas emissions in recent decades.

There was a significant amount that can be done. The economic recovery measures adopted as part of COVID-19, as well as promises made during COP26, provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Indonesia to transition away from its existing unsustainable economic paradigm and rebuild better.
These are positive initiatives that must be carefully examined, but more must be done. This involved encouraging citizens and policymakers to talk about how climate change affects their communities, as well as the harms created by legislation like the Mining Law.

The government must also create green circumstances for supporting large businesses, including state-owned enterprises, as well as regulations that promote job training in green economy-friendly areas such as renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Finally, the Indonesian government must take advantage of this great opportunity and dramatically reduce its dependency on coal, which has wreaked havoc on our world. This entails eliminating fossil fuel subsidies, phasing out coal by 2040, and fostering a climate that encourages renewable energy investment.