September 2, 2015 / 11:36 AM / 4 years ago

Indonesia to pledge to make deeper emission cuts by 2030

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia will pledge to increase its commitments on cutting greenhouse gas emissions growth by 29 percent by 2030, the environment and forestry minister said on Wednesday, but giving few details on how this would be done.

Residents cycle through the haze-blanketed town of Sampit, in Indonesia's Central Kalimantan province September 28, 2012. REUTERS/Sigit Pamungkas

Indonesia, ranked third in the amount of land covered by tropical forests and the world’s top palm oil producer, is likely to play a key role at the United Nation’s Paris climate conference later this year.

The country previously committed to curbing emissions growth by 26 percent by 2020, and a senior government advisor said this week a consultation of stakeholders was due to begin with the aim of increasing the target.

Indonesia will now cut emissions growth by 29 percent by 2030, Siti Nurbaya said at a forestry event in the capital, Jakarta, although it was unclear what year would be the starting point for the new reduction commitment.

Although the government was still determining the details of the new pledge, Nurbaya said developing renewable energy projects like geothermal, and steering new infrastructure projects and coals mines away from forested areas, would help the country achieve a deeper cut.

“(Economic) development will grow significantly, but also we’ll do better at conservation,” she said.

But in a blow to Indonesia’s efforts to stop rainforest destruction, U.S.-based think-tank World Resources Institute said earlier on Wednesday that tree-cover losses in Indonesia rose last year after falling in 2013.

Indonesia, a major pulp and paper and thermal coal producer, is one of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters, primarily due to deforestation, peatland degradation and forest fires.

Southeast Asia’s largest economy is under international pressure to curb the destruction of carbon-rich peatlands and forests to provide land that many palm oil and mining companies say they need for expansion.

President Joko Widodo, who took office in October 2014, has set ambitious infrastructure targets, including a plan to add 35,000 megawatts (MW) of power capacity to the present 52,000 MW over five years.

As the biggest exporter of thermal coal, the majority of this new capacity would likely be powered by coal. Last week Widodo angered green groups when he launched in central Java the construction of what is expected to be Southeast Asia’s largest coal-fired power plant.

Late last year Indonesia unveiled targets to triple geothermal power, introducing land and regulatory reforms aimed at making the nation the world’s largest producer of electricity from the alternative energy source.

Additional reporting and writing by Michael Taylor; Editing by Tom Hogue

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