In response to the challenges of COVID-19, global heating, and the global energy crisis, many will look to the G20 for a clear signal that the world’s biggest economies are ready to invest in cross-cutting solutions that limit the impact of global heating and accelerate economic recovery.
Last year, the G7 took a momentous stride to end government support for unabated international coal power generation by the end of 2021. This was followed up at the G20 in 2021, where the world’s most powerful countries pledged to stop financing coal plants abroad.
Since then, G20 countries have made a flurry of net-zero commitments, including Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia. In fact, Argentina is now the only country in the grouping without a net-zero emissions pledge. Progress has been made at the G20, but it needs to go much faster if the world wants to keep global heating capped to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Soon after these pledges, Indonesia gave much of the world hope at COP26, as it agreed to elements of the Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement, and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati highlighted the possibility of a phase-out of coal by 2040, with the right international support.
At COP 26, Indonesia further committed to phasing down unabated coal power and phasing out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies. Many energy analysts were enthused by its joining the Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement.
Over the last 20 years, Indonesia’s public and private sector has fought incredibly hard to expand electricity access to tens of millions of Indonesians. Continuing to meet this growing electricity demand in transport and industry will remain a key challenge for the government, but a rapid scale-up of clean electricity is the best defense against energy security challenges, both for Indonesia and countries globally.
This year, many countries will also be looking to see if Indonesia is willing to update its national climate plan, aligning with commitments made in Glasgow last year. There, Indonesian policy makers have a chance to set out a national Just Transition pathway towards ending coal, clearly highlighting the support it needs to scale up clean energy.
This would send a clear message across the G20 of the need to operationalize the string of powerful commitments made in 2021.
At the cusp of a global energy transition, Indonesia has an incredibly important role in trying to push the G20 to both support and accelerate this transition. As G20 President, Indonesia’s diplomatic and domestic efforts to accelerate this transition will need to go hand in hand.
As the host of the G7 this year, Germany has already committed to using its Presidency to support developing and emerging countries in their own transition away from coal, oil, and gas and towards renewable energy sources. Importantly, Germany has also backed up this mission with its newly updated domestic aim to phase out coal by 2030.
Indonesia could work collaboratively with Germany to ensure that the G7 not only aligns its priorities with the G20, but commits the world’s biggest economies to invest in overcoming the challenges to rapidly phase down coal, especially in developing countries.
Through its Energy Transition Mechanism partnership with the Asian Development Bank, Indonesia is taking proactive steps to develop financial solutions to speed up the global energy transition away from coal.
However, this partnership has only just begun. Making concrete steps to advance it throughout the year could open up an opportunity for G20 partners to enhance similar coal retirement mechanisms in Bali, as well as clean energy initiatives to bolster energy security.
Recently, the head of the International Energy Agency, Fatih Birol, described the challenge of phasing out coal and decarbonizing the world’s energy systems as a “Herculean effort.”
However, in the lead-up to this year’s G20, we believe that pure strength alone will not be able to overcome this complex geopolitical challenge. Rather, the unique blend of skill, bravery, and intelligence exhibited by Timun Mas as she faced down Buto Ijo may be just the model for Indonesia’s leadership team to follow as they aim to forge the Sustainable Energy Transition.
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*Dave Jones is a coal analyst and global program lead of Global Energy Think Tank, Ember, and Camilla Fenning is an analyst at E3G
The views and opinions expressed on this page are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the ANTARA News Agency.
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