This press release has been published on kompas.com, 11 November 2022, 17:59 WIB
Aksi Ekologi dan Emansipasi Rakyat (AEER) assesses that ASEAN’s achievements in saving the climate crisis are still lacking.
AEER biodiversity and climate researcher Ilham Setiawan Noer, on Thursday (10/11/2022), said Southeast Asian countries’ dependence on fossil energy would hinder the target of saving the climate and global biodiversity.
Whereas ASEAN is essential for protecting global biodiversity because it covers 20 percent of worldwide flora and fauna species, 30 percent of global coral reefs, and 35 percent of global mangrove forests.
In addition, four countries in Southeast Asia are among the 25 global biodiversity hotspots, and three countries are among the 17 mega-biodiversity countries in the world, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines.
All ASEAN member countries are also registered as parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
Based on the ASEAN Biodiversity Outlook 2 report issued by the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity (ACB), it is stated that there are three levels of target achievement, namely green, which means most ASEAN countries achieve the target, yellow means half of ASEAN countries, and red means less of half of ASEAN countries. As a result, of Aichi’s 20 targets, only one was green, 12 were yellow, and seven were red.
This condition shows that efforts to save biodiversity in the ASEAN region have yet to be maximized.
The ASEAN Biodiversity Report was issued as a result of monitoring the progress of achieving the 2011-2020 biodiversity saving (Aichi Biodiversity Target).
In addition, the report “The 6th ASEAN Energy Outlook 2017-2040,” published by the ASEAN Center for Energy (ACE) states that in the Business as Usual scenario, ASEAN’s total primary energy supply will continue to grow by 40 percent in 2017-2025 and most of dominated by fossil fuels. Ilham explained the dominance of fossil fuels also occurs in total energy consumption, with a value reaching two-thirds of total primary energy consumption.
Previously, countries in the world committed to achieving the temperature increase limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius declared in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
This commitment aims to prevent a worsening climate change that could exacerbate drought, hunger, and conflict worldwide.
“How is the relationship between the target of saving climate and biodiversity with fossil energy? The high dependence of Southeast Asian countries on fossil energy will trigger an increase in greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere, which will hinder the achievement of the global temperature rise limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius. This condition will exacerbate global climate change,” said Ilham.
“Fossil energy, especially coal, will threaten biodiversity in the form of habitat degradation and deforestation, habitat fragmentation, air and water pollution, and an increase in earth’s temperature,” he added in a written statement received by Kompas.com, Friday (11/11/2022) .
Ilham also stated that fossil energy in Indonesia is currently dominated by coal.
Based on a study conducted by AEER entitled “Coal Mining Threats to Biodiversity in Kalimantan”, it is said that out of 35 coal mining companies, 23 companies are classified as high threat category, ten companies are classified as medium threat category, and two companies are classified as low threat category.
Currently, Southeast Asia is still a promising market for coal commodities at a time when developed countries have started to abandon coal and are campaigning to switch to renewable energy.
Demand for coal imports in Southeast Asia is predicted to increase to 250 million tons in 2035 compared to 2020 of 150 million tons.
The three countries that are the biggest consumers in Southeast Asia are Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Coal consumption in these three regions has increased by 150 percent over the past 20 years.
Furthermore, Ilham explained currently, ASEAN countries still need to be able to properly implement the target to reach the temperature increase limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius.
According to him, out of 10 ASEAN countries, as many as three are classified as critically insufficient or very inadequate and very critical, namely Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
One country is classified as highly insufficient or very inadequate, namely Indonesia.
Meanwhile, six other countries still need to have an assessment from the Climate Action Tracker, namely the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Brunei Darussalam, and Malaysia.
Ilham thinks that ASEAN countries need to strengthen their commitment to saving the climate and biodiversity.
He added The Land Gap Report 2022, issued by landgap.org, states that tree planting, afforestation, and reforestation alone are not enough to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
Currently, emission reduction contributions are needed from various sectors, including the fossil fuel-based energy sector.
“As one of the countries with the largest production and consumption of fossil energy in the world, Indonesia needs to be a pioneer in Southeast Asia in ending dependence on fossil energy and must immediately switch to renewable energy,” he explained.
Ilham said the Government of Indonesia must make a serious commitment to preventing temperature rises above 1.5 degrees Celsius by reducing the use of coal-fired power plants in Indonesia to 10 percent in 2030 and ultimately stopping it in 2040.