8 Factors Affecting Indonesia’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Indonesia is one of the world’s top 10 Greenhouse Gas emitters - although we’re a developing country, we still find ways of unnecessarily harming our own country and the rest of the world, contributing to global climate change. Here are 8 very important factors affecting our emissions.

An opinion piece submitted by Erik Sitompul


1) Deforestation

We’ve covered this topic in the past - Indonesia has become the world’s worst deforester! We apparently cut down 840,000 hectares of forest in 2012, on average increasing primary forest loss by around 498,000 hectares a year! 37% of Indonesia’s GHG emissions stem from deforestation.

Why is this a problem? a) Primary forests are sinks (i.e. absorbers) of carbon dioxide, thus reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and b) the methods used for deforestation often include burning the forest down release tons of CO2. 

mongabay.co.id

mongabay.co.id

2) Peatland Burning

This is a problem that comes hand in hand with deforestation. Land clearing for agriculture (mainly palm oil) involves draining and burning peat land; partially decomposed organic material. Up to 60 billion metric tons of carbon is stored in Indonesian peatlands - the equivalent of 2,800 years of accumulated carbon. 27% of Indonesia’s GHG emissions stem from peat fires.

3) Transportation

In 2013, 104 million motor vehicles were registered in the country. Tied with the 1.6million domestic flights in the country, it’s no surprise that 114 million metric tons of carbon dioxide was emitted when last recorded (2011). Can you imagine those statistics for 2015?

4) Energy Consumption

Indonesia is developing quickly, but with that comes huge demands in electricity. Today we use 173.8 billion kWh in the country (compared to 92 billion 10 years ago!). Sure electricity is clean energy, but electricity production is what we have to worry about... considering that 72% of our electricity is produced by burning coal, oil and gas

5) Mountains of Rubbish

Indonesia is one of the world’s largest litterers. Every year, 38.5million tons of urban rubbish is added to the country’s 450 official landfills. 50-70% of this waste is organic, as 76% of households do not ‘sort’ their rubbish into different types.

What does this have to do with greenhouse gases? All that rubbish decomposes and produces methane. Methane, pound for pound, is 20 times more efficient at trapping radiation in our atmosphere. 

6) Burning Rubbish

Yet another classic problem we have here in the country. This came from our village traditions of burning rubbish, which was organic, but now that plastic etc has been added to the mix, the toxic gases that come out of burning heaps over the country is adding to the greenhouses gases. 

7) Economic and Urban Development

As cities modernize, we see a huge increase in consumption (or should I say, over-consumption?). Malls, shops, restaurants and bars have their lights running throughout the day, whether or not there are people in them! 

Tied with increasing standards of living, more iPhones, cars, bikes, televisions, computers etc are bought and used - increasing our energy needs and thus our greenhouse gas emissions. 

8) Population Growth

Ultimately, our consumption and emissions come from us, the people. More people means more of both of these things! And we are growing rapidly still. You saw in Indonesia in numbers, that we have reached a population of 252 million people- its not surprise that we're guzzling away at electricity and fossil fuels, cutting forests and burning peat for land and business.

CONCLUSIONS - WHAT CAN WE DO?

It is terribly difficult to tackle a problem that seems so large and ‘above us’. You don’t need to be out there strapping yourselves to forest trees in protest, or go around slashing car tires, or sabotage the closest power plant. All you have to do is remember this, every little helps. 

  1. Donate: to any organisation doing what they can to help the environment. 

  2. Educate: Yourself (like at this climate change expo in May), or others around you by telling people you see who are littering, burning or wasting energy. Tell them off, we Indonesians get super embarrassed when we get told off - we won’t forget!

  3. Share: a ride with friends, family and coworkers 

  4. Organise: your rubbish! Get your household to split their organic and inorganic materials, give your plastics to scavengers, compost your organics under the ground.

  5. Change: your habits! Turn off that light, does your A/C need to be on 18 Celcius? Do you need to take your car to the Indomaret - it’s a 4-minute walk man!

You might be thinking, “Pft, I’m one person what difference will these little things make?”. Sure you’re one person. But if ALL of Indonesia collectively did all these things, that is 252 million “single people”.
That, my friends, is when see some changes. 


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