As countries work to reduce their carbon emissions and become more climate-friendly, Indonesia is both a land of optimism and one stuck firmly in the past. While Indonesia has bold plans to reduce its carbon emissions, reaching the goal will require giving up coal. That will be no easy task considering the country’s over-reliance on fossil fuel.
If you think of thermal coal – the common type we are all familiar with – you may think China is the biggest global user, maybe the United States, possible Russia. No, it is actually Indonesia that remains the biggest exporter of thermal coal. The country highlights a global issue… coal is still used around much of the world as the power source for electricity.
Indonesia has shown it can modernize in other areas. In fact, it is – like China – an example of a country that went through accelerated modernization in the latter decades of the 20th Century. Indonesia has come a long way in defence modernization, digital infrastructure, and even adopting cryptocurrency for solutions like casino jackpot games online. However, in terms of adapting to climate change, coal presents a massive obstacle.
Indonesia’s love affair with coal as its chief resource means it is the eighth-largest carbon emitter in the world. So, how does the world’s biggest thermal coal users wean themselves off one of the most polluting fuels?
It’s complicated, but the country says it is committed to removing coal from the equation. Specifically, Indonesia has put a 2060 to 2070 target on cutting its emissions to zero. Furthermore, the company will stop building new coal power plants and stop using coal to generate electricity by 2056.
Bold claims, but how exactly will the country turn to a green-powered economy? It is not a challenge unique to Indonesia, other major coal users face the same problem. Whether it is the U.S., Chine, India, or Australia, moving on from coal is easier said than done. Indonesia is setting plans that will turn its words into actions.
Mining and sending coal to other countries is a pillar of the Indonesian economy, and the country has over 39 billion tonnes in reserve. As the biggest exporter, the mining industry is the backbone of industry in Indonesia, with miners paying more taxes than most sectors. In other words, if the country weans itself off coal, it will lose a significant part of its economy.
That means Indonesia must find ways to maintain those miners in jobs, replace the money of selling their vast coal resources, and turn to new industries.
It is also worth noting that while coal is a major environmental concern, it is not the only climate-related change Indonesia must make. In fact, coal is the country’s second-biggest emissions source, not it’s first. Number one on the list is deforestation, which contributes 35% to all the carbon emissions from Indonesia.
So, as the country tackles its coal problem head-on, it may also want to look at how it stops cutting down trees and destroying natural habitats.