Pacific island partnership to highlight climate adaptation

Indonesia may team up with the Pacific Islands to put pressure on other countries to agree on a universal, legally binding climate agreement at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP) in Paris in December 2015.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi had just come back on Thursday from her visit to Fiji, where she attended the Pacific Island Development Forum (PIDF) and discussed how to build resilience to climate change.

“The focus is how the Pacific Islands prepare adaptation and mitigation measures for climate change,” the ministry’s spokesperson, Armanatha Nasir, said .

The Pacific Islands, comprising 22 countries and territories with a combined population of 9.2 million, releases few carbon emissions. However, they are facing the greatest impacts from climate change as their land is at risk of disappearing altogether because of rising sea levels.

Therefore, at the PIDF, Armanatha added, they concluded to push for revisions in the outcome of the COP21 in Paris [to also put a focus on adaptation].

During negotiations at the COP 21, Indonesia will support the stance of the Pacific Islands because of their similar characteristic of consisting of small islands.

“Given our similarity in the context of climate change, we always support steps taken by Pacific countries,” said Armanatha.

The chairperson of the Steering Committee on Climate Change, Sarwono Kusumaatmadja, recently said that Indonesia was seen as a potential ally by the Pacific island countries.

“We should be friends with other island nations, like the Solomons, Vanuatu, Samoa, Fiji and the Maldives, in facing this issue,” he said.

As an archipelagic state with extensive low-lying areas, Indonesia is highly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change. Indonesia has already experienced extreme climate events, such as floods and drought, and will likely see long-term effects from sea level rise.

It is believed that climate change will increase the risk of hydro-meteorological disasters, which make up 80 percent of the disasters that occur in Indonesia.

Countries with shared interests tend to cooperate in negotiations because there is strength in numbers, according to Elliot Diringer, executive vice president of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.

In past climate negotiations, Indonesia had not seen other tiny island states as potential allies, despite the Pacific Islands often being used as the “poster-child” of climate change, complete with images of islands submerged by rising seas.

The government plans to rectify this lack of clear vision in past negotiations through its Intended National Determined Contribution (INDC), which was recently submitted to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo for his approval.

The INDC is due to be submitted to the UNFCCC on Sept. 20 and negotiators will be briefed on it so that they know Indonesia’s mission, according to Sarwono.

In the latest draft of the INDC, a copy of which was obtained by The Jakarta Post, Indonesia envisions the archipelago achieving resilience against climate change as a result of comprehensive adaptation and mitigation programs and disaster risk reduction strategies for 2020 and beyond.

Its primary adaptation goals are to maintain a strong national economy and ensure food security, as well as to protect people’s livelihoods and welfare.

Adaptation efforts will emphasize community empowerment in order to increase resilience and capacity in addressing the adverse effects of climate change.