Jokowi's Climate Change Summit speech criticised for lacking 'a sense of crisis'

CNN Indonesia – April 23, 2021
President Widodo speaking at Leaders Summit on Climate Change – April 22, 2021 (BPMI Setpres)

Jakarta – The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) has criticised a speech given by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo at the Leaders Summit on Climate Change on Thursday evening, April 22.

Walhi Executive Director Nur Hidayati protested Widodo's statements at the international forum because it failed to emphasise the extreme urgency of dealing with the climate crisis in light of a series of recent disasters in Indonesia. She even said that Widodo has no sensitivity about the climate change crisis.

"The head of state has no sense of crisis about the situation in Indonesia which is clearly suffering the impacts of climate change. Such as extreme weather which has triggered huge floods in South Kalimantan, and the Seroja tropical cyclone which slammed East Nusa Tenggara and nearby areas", said Yaya – as Hidayati is known by her friends – in a press release received by CNN Indonesia on Friday April 23.

Because it is one of the countries being severely impacted upon, Hidayati believes that Indonesia must provide direction for global policies in order to start taking concrete steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

So, she had hoped that Widodo would take a firm stand in his speech in front of the world. Regrettably however, the former Jakarta governor did not demonstrate anything special.

An aggressive commitment to reduce emissions, added Hidayati, was not conveyed by Widodo during the meeting. She believes it was as if Widodo is afraid because he has not taken any courageous steps which would inspire other leaders.

"The President is instead pursuing business as usual, namely dealing with climate change based on projects, which from earlier experiences have proven to be unsuccessful and unsustainable", concluded Hidayati.

Speaking separately, Forestry and Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said that in his speech Widodo asserted that Indonesia is very serious about controlling climate change. She emphasised that dealing with climate change is of national importance.

Bakar said that Widodo also invited other national leaders to promote green development and strengthen global partnerships to achieve the Paris Agreement targets.

Bakar claimed that Indonesia has made many achievements in addressing climate change. A future strategy was also mapped out with the aim of accelerating model net zero emission target projects by establishing a 12.5 thousand hectare Indonesian Green Industrial Park.

"Through policies, empowerment and law enforcement, Indonesia's rate of deforestation has declined to its lowest in the last 20 years. Discontinuing the conversion of natural forests and peatlands has reached 66 million hectares, more than the combined land area of Britain and Norway", said Bakar in a tweet on her personal Twitter account.

The National Democrats (Nasdem) politician also highlighted efforts at rehabilitation which are targeting 620,000 hectares of mangrove forests by 2024. According to Bakar, this will promote carbon absorption up to four times the capacity of tropical forests.

Earlier in his speech, Widodo touted the Indonesia's achievements in controlling forest fires. He considers this to be a concrete measure on Indonesia's part in the war on climate change.

"An 82 percent reduction in forest fires at a time when several parts of America, Australia and Europe are experiencing their widest increase", said Widodo as broadcast on the Presidential Secretariat YouTube channel on Thursday evening. (fey/nma)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Walhi Kritik Pidato Jokowi: Tak Ada Sense of Crisis".]