(Adds comments by Japanese minister, NGOs)
By Yoko Kubota
TOKYO, May 23 (Reuters) - Indonesia plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions from its energy sector by 17 percent by 2025, its environment minister said on Friday, a move that could boost pressure on rich countries to set bold targets of their own.
If Indonesia makes the reduction a formal target, it would be a rare decision by a developing nation to set a unilateral goal of an absolute cut in emissions for a key sector.
"I’d like to voice my concerns that if the issue is not carefully managed, it will threaten the existence of humanity in Asia in particular, and the world in general," said Indonesian Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar.
He was speaking a day before his counterparts from the Group of Eight rich countries and other major emitters meet in Kobe, western Japan, to discuss climate change and other issues.
Most poorer countries say they must put economic growth first and argue that those who have enjoyed the fruits of emissions-intensive growth in the past must act first.
The formula prefered by Asian giant China is a pledge to cut energy and emissions intensity -- the amount of power used and CO2 generated for each unit of national economic growth.
That would still mean an overall rise in emissions from the country, which may already be the world’s biggest carbon dioxide producer. Fellow top emitter the United States only aims to have emissions peak in 2025.
G8 leaders agreed to seriously consider a target to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 at last year’s summit, a proposal backed by Japan, the European Union and Canada.
HEADACHE FOR JAPAN
But developing countries have balked at committing to the goal without the United States doing more to cut the emissions that cause global warming, and insist rich countries help poorer ones pay for clean technology.
That poses a headache for Japan as it tries to encourage all major emitters to sign up at a G8 summit it hosts in July.
"Japan has the important role of maintaining and speeding up the momentum among the environment ministers and global leaders to realise the Post-Kyoto framework at Copenhagen," Japanese Environment Minister Ichiro Kamoshita told the symposium, adding it was vital that all countries take part in a post-Kyoto regime.
Environmental activists stressed on Friday that rich countries needed to go beyond the "50 by 50" goal.
"Just agreeing to halve global emissions by 50 percent by 2050 at this year’s (G8) summit won’t amount to ‘progress’," Yurika Ayukawa, vice chairperson of the 2008 Japan G8 Summit NGO Forum, told reporters in Kobe.
"Developed nations at the same time need to commit to reducing emissions by 80 percent by 2050, otherwise developing nations won’t sign up to the global goal," she said.
NOT CLEAR HOW
Indonesia’s Witoelar urged advanced countries to set midterm goals in order to achieve longer-term targets but added that developing countries also had a role to play.
"Indonesia realises the importance of this issue and has committed itself to play an active role in climate change negotiations," he said.
He added that Jakarta would set a goal of cutting energy sector emissions by 17 percent by 2025 and implement bold reductions in forest burning -- the major source of emissions for Indonesia, one of few countries that with swathes of carbon-trapping rainforests left.
It was not clear how Indonesia would achieve the cuts, though, as it said it aims to boost the amount of emissions-intensive coal in its energy mix by the same date, although it will cut its use of oil.
About 190 nations agreed at U.N.-led talks in Bali last December to launch two-year negotiations on a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol, which binds only rich nations to emissions cuts by an average of 5 percent between 2008-2012 from 1990 levels.
All nations would be bound under Kyoto’s successor from 2013, and under the "Bali Roadmap’, nations recognised deep cuts in global emissions were needed.
But there are wide gaps not only over the size of binding targets but also the base year for the goals and management and funding of schemes to provide clean energy technology to poor nations. (Writng by Linda sieg; additional reporting by Emma Graham-Harrison in Beijing, Mita Valina Liem in Jakarta, and Chisa Fujioka in Kobe)