Thursday, 25 March 2010

Scientist Doubts Indonesia’s Leadership in Climate Talks

March 25, 2010
Fidelis E Satriastanti The Jakarta Globe

Scientist Doubts Indonesia’s Leadership in Climate Talks

Recent policies favoring mining and palm oil plantations make the nation’s claims that it holds an important role at climate-change negotiations nothing more than lip service, a climate scientist said on Thursday.

“Everyone can claim that they have big roles [on climate-change negotiations]. It’s going to be different if others state that,” said Daniel Murdiyarso, a senior climate scientist who is a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He added that Indonesia’s claim to such a role was contradicted by “recent policies on mining and agriculture.”

Indonesia first came under the spotlight at climate-change negotiations in 2007, when it hosted the 13th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, resulting in the adoption of the Bali Action Plan.

The initiative had five main targets: deeper cuts in emissions, mitigation of harmful effects, boosting adaptation, transferring key technologies for countries that need them, and hammering out funding mechanisms. The Bali accord also set a deadline for final agreement on those issues at UN climate summit in Copenhagen last year.

Fitrian Ardiansyah, program director for climate and energy at WWF Indonesia, said the country had the chance to show strong leadership at the negotiation table after the Bali climate talks but never took the opportunity. All it had to do, he said, was “guard the Bali Action Plan from the moment they declared it, make sure the negotiations stayed faithful to that plan.

“Compared with the BASIC countries [Brazil, South Africa, India and China], we don’t really come out as a key country, even though we have had some share of the negotiations,” Fitrian said. “It’s not about having the country’s name on the declaration; we haven’t figured out our [bargaining] position.”

Agus Purnomo, head of the secretariat at the National Council on Climate Change, disagreed that Indonesia had no significant role, noting that the country held a unique position as advocating the “middle path.”

“We are the first [major] country to announce our emissions target, which was then followed by other countries. We made that pledge when no countries have done it. So I don’t think our role is that small,” said Agus, adding that Indonesia’s middle path had opened opportunities to approach all parties.

Furthermore, he said, the benefits of being in the middle did not come automatically but would bring advantages in the long run.

“It’s not in our nature to whine or to be angry all the time like most countries, but we are there to listen to other parties and try to solve [the problems],” he said. “I think the middle-path position is not well understood and is being underrated.”