President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has officially merged the National Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Agency (BP REDD+) with the Environment and Forestry Ministry, raising questions about the future of the country’s fight against global warming.
Jokowi signed Presidential Decree No. 16/2015 on the structure of the Environment and Forestry Ministry on Jan. 21, 2015, disbanding the BP REDD+.
“The task and function of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by BP REDD+ as stipulated in Presidential Decree No. 62/2013 will be integrated with the tasks and functions of the Environment and Forestry Ministry,” the decree said.
In the decree, Jokowi also decided to merge the National Council on Climate Change (DNPI) — a body established by then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in 2008 to be the national coordinator for international negotiations on climate initiatives — with the ministry.
The decree, however, does not provide details on how the merger will be conducted.
“Additional regulations regarding task, function, organizational structure and work policy of the Environment and Forestry Ministry will be issued by the minister after getting an agreement from a minister in charge of the management of government officials,” the decree said.
The Environment and Forestry Ministry’s head of organization restructuring committee, San Afri Awang, said that some members of the now defunct BP REDD+ would become consultants for the ministry.
“They will function as experts, but will coordinate with the climate change mitigation directorate general,” he said on Wednesday.
The directorate general is a new department set up in the ministry as part of a massive restructuring following the merger of the environment ministry and the forestry ministry.
The new ministry will have nine directorate generals.
The BP REDD+, established by Yudhoyono at the end of 2013, was the world’s first Cabinet-level institution working specifically on deforestation, forest degradation, conservation, the sustainable management of forests and the enhancement of forest-carbon stocks.
Indonesia is set to participate in the next UN climate conference in Paris in December 2015, which will produce a legally binding agreement to reduce carbon emissions.
The agreement will take force in 2020 after the termination of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which only legally bound developed nations to reduce emissions.
It remains unclear what effect, if any, the disbandment of the BP REDD+ will have on the country’s commitment to cut greenhouse gases by 41 percent by 2020.
Awang said the public, including foreign donors like the Norwegian government, should not be worried, as the ministry would continue working on programs prepared by the agency during its existence. He added that the country’s participation in the upcoming climate conference in Paris would not be affected either.
In 2010, through the DNPI, Indonesia signed a letter of intent with the government of Norway to reduce forest-based gas emissions in return for financial support of up to US$1 billion.
“In time, we will talk [with Norway]. We are hoping that Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi will come [and join the discussion]. We cannot close our eyes to the international perspective, so we are making sure to tell the international world that there will be no shock [to Indonesia’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions],” said Awang.
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