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Balancing act urged in achieving green goals

By LEONARDUS JEGHO in Jakarta | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-06-26 09:40

Developed Western economies should respect the actual needs of developing countries to achieve net-zero emissions in phases while being consistent with their own actions, said officials and experts during a forum in Indonesia.

Efforts to achieve net-zero emissions should not hinder a country's economic growth, especially the growth of developing countries like Indonesia, Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan told the Indonesia Net-Zero Summit 2023 on Saturday.

Even in the United States, coal-fired plants are still between 40 and 60 percent of its total power plants, he said, adding that Germany and Poland had recently said they wanted coal imports from Indonesia.

Building a hydropower plant requires at least seven years. So using new energy like these needs to be carried out in phases, step by step continuously, Pandjaitan said. He also urged that climate change knowledge be popularized among the youth.

The Indonesian government has committed to cutting carbon to net zero by 2060, while environmentalists want it to be achieved before 2050. The initial goal was set for 2070 and the country is retiring its coal-fired power plants early.

Alue Dohong, Indonesia's vice-minister of environment and forestry, said that as a country rich in new and renewable energy resources, Indonesia should be able to even export this kind of energy.

Environmental activist Melissa Kowara from Extinction Rebellion Indonesia told the seminar that climate change education should be taught to all people, including those living in villages in remote regions.

She and other activists insisted that with a better understanding of the dangers of climate change, ordinary people would be more active in protecting their environment and will also not easily succumb to pressures from companies, which want to take over their land for business activities.

Mercy Chriesty Barends, a member of the Indonesia House of Representatives, said a "fossil energy regime" remains strong in parliament, which has held back deliberation of the bill on new and renewable energy. She hopes the new law, which they started deliberating early last year, will pass into law in 2024.

Dino Patti Djalal, founder of the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia, said results from the meeting would be presented to the government before the nation holds presidential and parliamentary elections next year.

"It is our ambition that the elections will raise climate change to become an important and dominant issue," Djalal said.

Takuya Nomoto, first secretary and environment attache of the Japanese embassy in Jakarta, said he agreed with Pandjaitan that educating young people about climate change is an urgent matter. He also found it important to maintain a balance between environmental preservation and economic development.

The writer is a freelance journalist for China Daily.

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