Position Paper on the 2024-2029 Presidential and Vice Presidential Election, Specifically in Response to the Candidate Debate on the Environment

Civil Society Organization Stance on Bioenergy Policy in Indonesia

Jakarta, January 21, 2023 – Ahead of the fourth vice presidential debate to be held tonight, civil society organizations represented by Traction Energy Asia, Trend Asia and Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI) are calling on the 2024 presidential and vice presidential candidates to truly realize a low-emission and just energy transition. This is in response to the current energy transition policy which instead threatens the environment (deforestation and others) and masyarakat through health (pollution), agrarian (such as land grabbing and others), and economic (one of them, the involvement of smallholders farmers in the supply chain which is very minimal) aspects.

The development of bioenergy, including biofuels and biomass from plantation products, namely oil palm, and forestry such as several types of wood, will increase the need for land and threaten the existence of forests. Therefore, it is necessary to set limits on the use of bioenergy and accelerate the transition to clean energy.

Bioenergy Development that Increases Deforestation Opportunities

Based on the mapping of the implementation of biomass energy transition and observations on new deforestation barns that have occurred in Indonesia, Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI) reported that throughout 2017-2021 there has been deforestation of 55,000 hectares of forest and it is projected that deforestation will occur again on 4.65 million hectares of forest. This potential is based on observations made on bioenergy development activities through biomass at existing PLTUs.

“We are warning the three pairs of candidates, that the biomass that is implemented with co-firing, if it continues to use the same governance on the 52 PLTUs currently, then the projection of Indonesian natural forests that will be victims will reach 4.65 million hectares,” said Anggi Putra Prayoga, Campaign Manager, Advocacy, and Media Forest Watch Indonesia.

In more detail, Anggi said that there are 13 Energy Plantation Companies (HTE) that have currently deforested 55,000 hectares of forest in Indonesia due to the massive implementation of this bioenergy policy.

On the other hand, the latest data presented by Trend Asia Program Manager, Amalya Reza Oktaviani, shows that PLN’s co-firing activities at 43 PLTUs by burning 1 million tons of biomass in 2023, actually produce 1.7 million tons of carbon emissions. In fact, this co-firing practice also has the potential to extend the operational life of old PLTUs that have been operating for more than 30 years.

Most biofuel policies also still rely on raw materials from palm oil, with the risk of large-scale expansion of palm oil plantations. The use of palm oil as a raw material for biofuels, especially biodiesel, has an impact on the availability of palm oil for food production such as cooking oil.

In 2022, GAPKI data projected that palm oil consumption for food reached 9.6 million tons, while palm oil consumption for biodiesel almost caught up at 8.8 million tons. This competition in the use of palm oil for biofuels will ultimately trigger deforestation, due to the need to expand land to meet demand from both sectors.

Recommendations for Follow-up Actions on Biofuel and Biomassa Policies

Through this position paper, the group of civil society organizations focused on biofuels and biomass issues represented by Traction Energy Asia, Trend Asia, and Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI) reiterated their position statement on bioenergy policy. The three civil society organizations urge presidential and vice presidential candidates to pay high attention to bioenergy governance so as not to ignore sustainability and justice aspects.

As a note, the energy sector has contributed 34.49% to greenhouse gas emissions production in Indonesia. The energy sector is one of the five sectors that must reduce its emission contribution. Efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by accelerating a clean low-carbon energy transition are important, considering that the climate crisis threatens the existence of human life. Meanwhile, Indonesia currently has a clean low-carbon energy potential of around 3,600 gigawatts. However, the utilization of water, bioenergy, solar, wind, ocean currents, and geothermal energy is only around 0.3% or 12.6 gigawatts.

Based on the vision and mission represented by their TPNs, the pairs of candidates need to show their commitment to zero deforestation energy transition efforts, which are not only at the normative concept level but also implementation in the field. Mainly focusing on a just energy transition from the social, economic, and environmental aspects.

In the future, the elected 2024-2029 presidents and vice presidents need to review bioenergy policies, especially biofuels and biomass that require large land.

contact the resource person:

Traction Energy ASIA : Tommy Pratama – Executive Director

+62 811-1757-244

Trend Asia : Amalya Reza Oktaviani – Bioenergy Program Manager

+62 896-5447-1045

Forest Watch Indonesia  : Anggi Putra Prayoga – Campaign, Advocacy and Media Manager

+62 857-2034-6154


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Published: January 22, 2024

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