The most important country for the global climate no one is talking about – by Nithin Coca ( – December 5, 2018)

Indonesia is one of the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases, but manages to fly well below the radar.

World leaders are gathered this month in Katowice, Poland, for COP24, the most important global meeting on climate change since the 2015 UN Climate Conference in Paris. At the top of agenda: getting countries to agree on rules to implement the Paris climate accords for 2020, when the pact goes into effect.

The meeting serves as a reminder of troubling facts — President Donald Trump still intends to withdraw the United States from the accord, and the most recent UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s warns that we have just 12 years to limit average global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

But flying well below the radar in all of this is Indonesia, currently the world’s fifth biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, which come mainly from land use, land use change, and forestry. Today Indonesia stands out for how little it has done to implement policies that would enable it to meet its commitment under the Paris agreement: cutting emissions from deforestation by 29 percent below business-as-usual projections by 2030.

“To really achieve the climate targets … there is a need to come up with new policies that are more ambitious,” Hanny Chrysolite, the forest and climate program officer with the World Resources Institute Indonesia, said.

In fact, Indonesia is moving in the opposite direction. The government plans to build more than 100 coal-fired power plants, and expand the production of palm oil for local biofuel consumption, which will involve further deforestation of carbon-rich tropical forests. Add the expansion of a car-centric transportation infrastructure, a growing middle class and very little investment in renewables, and you have the recipe for a climate disaster.

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