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Dubai COP28 should avoid empty promises and act to cut emissions, forum hears

By LEONARDUS JEGHO in Jakarta | China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-08 19:23

A forum themed "Indonesia Towards COP28: Where Our Climate Policies Are Being Brought To?" is held by the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia in Jakarta on Nov 3. LEONARDUS JEGHO / FOR CHINA DAILY

The 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP28, needs to produce a clear action plan to keep the global emission reduction phase on track, a regional forum in Jakarta heard.

The Nov 3 forum "Indonesia Towards COP28: Where Our Climate Policies Are Being Brought To?" was organized by the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia. It was held ahead of the COP28, which is scheduled from Nov 30 to Dec 12 in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.

Abdulla Salem Obaid Al Dhaheri, UAE's ambassador to ASEAN and Indonesia, said COP28 will use the power of collective action to help meet the 2015 Paris climate target of limiting global warming to 1.5 C.

"When we can act with solidarity, we can overcome even the most intimidating challenges," Al Dhaheri said in his special remarks at the forum.

Al Dhaheri said the UAE has developed comprehensive plans to enhance global climate action based on five directions: accelerate and organize responsible and equitable transition in the energy sector; develop climate finance mechanisms; focus on life and livelihood; protect and restore ecosystems; and forge inclusivity and engagement of all stakeholders. He said 150 heads of state and government, including Indonesian President Joko Widodo, are expected to attend COP28 in Dubai.

Medrilzam, director for environmental affairs at Indonesia's Ministry of National Development Planning, said Indonesia is targeting to hit net-zero emissions by 2060, adding that climate targets are part of the national long-term development plan.

"We strongly stress that our policies for the next 20 years are green economic policies so they will no longer be ordinary policies," he said.

But he said funding is needed for clean energy transition to build a green economy in developing countries like Indonesia. Medrilzam was in Cairo for COP27 in 2022 and cited the promised $100 billion per year funding for climate mitigation programs for vulnerable countries.

The fund was committed jointly by developed countries under the Paris Agreement. "But, almost 80 percent of the $100 billion commitment is actually loans, and their rates are normal. This poses a great challenge, but we must not back down," Medrilzam said.

Marlistya Citraningrum, senior analyst at the Jakarta-based think tank Institute for Essential Services Reform, said that most countries are not willing to finance the early termination of coal-fired power plants.

"For many countries, early retirement of such plants remains a grey issue," she said. Citraningrum added that Indonesia's state-owned power company PLN, which monopolizes electricity distribution, should seriously support the decentralization of renewable power projects.

"There are so many renewable projects on offer (in Indonesia), and hopefully they can be announced in the COP28 to get funding and investment," she said.

Indonesia is the world's largest coal exporter, and roughly 60 percent of its domestic electricity supply is generated by coal plants.

Tata Mustasya, a senior global strategist for climate and energy at Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said that coal and gas production quotas in Indonesia and other countries are continuing to rise despite their commitment to phasing out fossil fuels.

He said efforts are needed to push industrialized nations to tax their oil companies that have global operations. Funds from such sources can be used for green economy projects in developing countries.

Prime Sarmiento in Hong Kong contributed to this story.

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