Achieving Biodiversity Protection Global Targets Need to Abandon Coal Ambitiously


Ilham Setiawan Noer, Action for Ecology and People Emancipation (AEER) Association Researcher

Pius Ginting, Action for Ecology and People Emancipation (AEER) Association Coordinator

About 1.000 negotiators from 150 countries have gathered and held the 4th meeting to discuss The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework in Nairobi, Kenya on 21-26 June 2022. The meeting was held to prepare for the final text of the framework to protect global biodiversity after 2020 at COP 15 which has been planned to be held in Montreal, Canada at the end of 2022.

After the meeting in Nairobi had been concluded, the United Nations (UN) Convention of Biodiversity (CBD) published a new Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework recommendation draft (which has yet to be finalized) which reports the current state of biodiversity at serious risk. Currently, more than 70% of the land on the planet has been transformed, more than 60% of the oceans have been impacted, and more than 80% of wetlands have been lost. It’s also reported that more than 1 million species are facing extinction. The current state of biodiversity is also much more alarming when also taking a look into the world’s failure to fulfill 14 out of 20 targets in the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, the targets set by CBD previously to protect biodiversity in 2011-2020. This is also concerning because biodiversity loss is interconnected with other environmental destruction events, including climate change, land degradation, desertification, and so on.

This causes climate change to be one of the issues that were also discussed at the meeting. Climate change needs to be addressed by maintaining ecosystems that can absorb carbon and stop subsidizing fossil fuels. Indonesia should take a much more important role and be a lead example on the international scene in mitigating climate change by doing exactly those. This is because biodiversity in Indonesia is very rich. Indonesia has been declared a mega-biodiversity country by the world. And according to the state constitution, the 1945 Constitution No.5 of 1994 about The Ratification of United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, Indonesia is one of the countries that ratified the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.

But on the other hand, at the same time, Indonesia is the third largest coal-producing country in the world. Indonesia is still very dependent on coal mining and coal-based power plants which threatens biodiversity and worsen climate change further.

The new Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework’s recommendation draft outlines new global biodiversity framework targets. Indonesia must immediately abandon coal mining if Indonesia wants to take a much more important role and be a lead example on the international scene in achieving the targets for protecting biodiversity on the global scene. The targets are:

Target 7: Reduce emissions and pollution from all sources to levels that are not harmful to biodiversity and ecosystem functions, and human health with considering cumulative effects.

Coal mining contributes to releasing a huge chunk of CO2 and methane. Methane by itself is 20 times stronger than CO2 in producing glass house emissions. Mining activities cause water, land, and air pollution, negatively affecting biodiversity, ecosystem, and human health. The “Killing Rivers” (2020) report by Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM) stated that the results of the water sample test around the coal mining area of Indominco Mandiri company show that the average level of acidity of the water or pH is very acidic, the level of the heavy metal content of iron (Fe) and manganese (Mn) is well above the quality standard threshold. The community that lives around the coal mining area suffers from upper respiratory tract infections (ARI), tuberculosis, and symptoms of nasopharyngeal cancer.

Target 8: Minimize climate change impact and sea acidification to biodiversity and ecosystem through mitigation, adaptation, and enhancing ecosystem resilience.  

Coral reefs are one of many ecosystems that is very vulnerable to climate change impact. As an example, a coral bleaching phenomenon in East Kalimantan is caused by an increase in temperature. According to a study about geospatial analysis of coal mining land use by El-Hamid et al (2019), mining activities will change climate factors like temperatures and rainfall in mining areas. An increase in temperature is caused by a significant increase in evapotranspiration around the mining area. This phenomenon disturbs the hydrological cycle around the mining area and damages the material cycle around the mining area. A study about deforestation and climate change impact on Kalimantan by Wolff et al (2021) outlines that deforestation and global warming in East Kalimantan causes an increase in temperature in the area by almost 1 Celsius degree in the last 16 years. This is dangerous for coral reefs which are very sensitive to an increase in temperature.  

Target 14: Ensure the full integration of biodiversity and its multiple values into policies, regulations, planning and development processes, poverty eradication strategies, and strategic environmental and environmental impact assessments across all levels of government and sectors, including mining.

Mining is one of the industrial sectors that are listed in target 14 by CBD. This indicates that mining is need to be watched out for because it tends to contribute negatively to biodiversity well-being. A study about coal mining impact on biodiversity in the US by Giam et al (2018) states that coal mines contribute to biodiversity richness and abundance loss, with about 32% average loss in biodiversity richness and 53% average loss in biodiversity abundance around mining areas in comparison with other areas without mines. A mitigation hierarchy policy at the avoidance level needs to be implemented for coal mining companies as a preventive measure. Avoidance level is a form of preventative policy to avoid negative impacts as early as possible.

Target 18: By 2025, identify and eliminate, and phase out all subsidies and incentives that are harmful to biodiversity while taking into account national socio-economic conditions.

Currently, Indonesia Government is still providing subsidies and incentives to the coal mining sector. Indonesia Government applies a 0% royalty incentive to companies that run coal downstreaming. One of the coal downstreaming that is planned by the government is the manufacture of Dimethyl Ether (DME) as a substitute fuel for LPG with the same amount. This policy to do coal downstreaming to manufacture DME through gasification is an inappropriate policy because it produces larger emissions with less energy produced. This results in nothing but poses a dangerous threat to biodiversity.  

Thus, Indonesia needs to demonstrate a much more ambitious commitment to achieving biodiversity protection targets in The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. Indonesia needs to be committed to stopping any attempts to expand coal mining areas and revoke coal mining permits to protect biodiversity from fossil energy destruction.

Published by Kompas (

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