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This article was written in 2008 as input to an Environment and Climate Change Policy Brief produced for Sida with the University of Gothenburg.

Current Climate and hazards

The main climatic hazards in Indonesia are floods, droughts, landslides and forest fires, of which flooding is associated with La Niña events and drought and forest fire with El Niño events. Indonesia is also at high risk of tropical cyclones from the eastern Indian Ocean (January-April) and the eastern Pacific ocean (May-Dec).

Trends in current climate

Since 1990 the temperature in Indonesia has increased by 0.3C, and the trend is for increasing precipitation in the North of Indonesia, and decreasing precipitation in the South Changing climate is already affecting the timing of seasons in Indonesia, with the onset of the wet season delayed by up to 20 days in the period 1991-2003 compared to 1960-1990 in parts of Sumatra and Java.

El Niño has a large impact on Indonesian climate, with effects including decreased rainfall and water storage and an increased area affected by drought and fire amongst others, whereas La Niña increases precipitation and is linked to flooding.

Projections of climate change

Temperature is expected to increase in the range of 1.5-3.7C by 2100, with a mean increase across models of 2.5C according to the IPCC archive of models. Changes in precipitation are less certain, however some studies indicate that the trend for increasing precipitation in the North of Indonesia, and decreasing precipitation in the South will continue in the future. It is expected that climate change will cause a longer dry season and shorter but more intense wet season over much of Indonesia. There will be significant local variations to these changes, however, but further work, perhaps using downscaled climate data or regional climate models is needed to examine these differences.

It is difficult to assess the impact of climate change on El Niño, but the number and intensity of events has increased over the last 100 years, and it has been argued that current El Niño conditions may serve as a proxy for future conditions in Indonesia under climate change. It is also not possible to say what the effect of climate change on tropical cyclones will be, although it is clear they will continue to be a major hazard in Indonesia.

Impacts of Climate Change

As an archipelago, Indonesia and its population are extremely vulnerable to sea-level rise, with the 42 million people who live less than 10m above sea-level particularly at risk. A 1m rise in sea-level could inundate 405,000ha of land and reduce Indonesia’s territory by inundating low-lying islands which mark its borders, and a 50cm rise in sea-level, combined with land subsidence in Jakarta Bay, could permanently inundate densely populated areas of Jakarta and Bekasi with a population of 270,000. The impacts of climate change will be felt across many different sectors. Agricultural production will be disrupted by changing rainfall patterns, increased drought, inundation of productive coastal areas and an increase in the incidence and range of pests due to higher temperatures. It is difficult to predict local effects on production, however several studies suggest yields will decrease, for example farmers may no longer be able to plant 2 rice crops due to a shorter rainy season. Decreased rainfall in many areas, combined with higher temperatures and increased demand is likely to require water storage or water transfer mechanisms to equitably distribute diminished or more erratic water resources. Sea-level rise will disrupt coastal fish and prawn farming, and changing distribution of marine species may make fish catches less reliable. Increased floods are likely from sea-level rise and extreme rain events and are expected to increase the incidence of water-borne diseases such as cholera and dysentery, while increased temperatures will aid the spread of vector-borne diseases such as Dengue Fever (which increases during warm El Niño years) and Malaria into new areas.

Adaptation and Mitigation

The Ministry of the Environment (MOE) has been the focal ministry for climate change, which means that integration with development priorities has been a problem, and has created certain situations where government policies such as a push to expand the use of fossil fuels, work against legislation from the MOE.

Capacity and Policy: Adaptation

To achieve its goals for economic development and poverty reduction, in particular amongst the poorest and most marginalized sectors of population, Indonesia will need to adapt to climate change. It is clear that many Indonesians are already adapting to climate change, for example by building houses on stilts to respond to increased flooding, or responding to decreased reliability of fish catches by diversifying livelihoods, and that indigenous adaptation strategies should form the base for building adaptation to future change. The main focus in Indonesia has been on mitigation, however the awareness created from hosting COP13 may change this, as work is ongoing on a National Adaptation Plan on Climate Change (RANPI) and the Climate Change Adaptation Programme (ICCAP). It appears that Indonesia is building on the momentum from hosting COP13 to further develop these policies, for example through a multi-stakeholder workshop on the ICCAP held in March by the Ministry of Environment and UNDP which will hopefully create greater awareness on adaptation amongst different government departments. Adaptation and Mitigation in Indonesia are strongly coupled, as continued rapid deforestation will not only exacerbate the impacts of climate change, but also constrain the adaptation options that are available to vulnerable communities. The priority sectors for adaptation are seen as agriculture, water, coastal and urban areas. There will be adaptation options that are specific for each of these sectors, for example faster growing crop varieties in the agricultural sector, however there are also general needs to be addressed which will build capacity for adaptation across sectors.

These include the development of a system to provide climate information to actors at different scales, for example seasonal forecasts, and training in how to use this information effectively to manage climate risks. Training in vulnerability analysis and assessment of adaptation options would help to identify priorities for adaptation. Initiatives such as the development of community action plans to cope with flooding are being pursued in the field of disaster risk reduction (DRR), but are equally relevant in building community resilience to future climate change. Following this model of community engagement in projects would address one of the problems identified with several ongoing climate change initiatives in Indonesia, that of a lack of community ownership in projects. Adaptation to climate change will be a long-term process, and as such will require long-term partnerships and cooperation between different actors at different scales. Encouraging dialogue between these different actors, in a similar way to the workshop convened to discuss the ICCAP, will help to foster the relationships needed to enable adaptation to take place.

Capacity constraints for adaptation include:

  • awareness of adaptation as an issue;
  • ability to analyse and apply climate information;
  • capacity to assess vulnerability to climate change;
  • effective system for dissemination of climate information; and
  • technical assistance to assess and implement adaptation options.

Capacity and Policy: Mitigation (CDM, Energy policies etc)

Indonesia is the world’s 3rd largest emitter of greenhouse gasses, of which 85% come from deforestation. Good policies exist to reduce the rate of deforestation and protect forests, but there is limited capacity to enforce these legislations at the local level due to institutional and financial constraints. There has been a degree of decentralisation of government in recent levels, and local authorities are able to develop their own plans for forest conservation, however the same issues remain around the enforcement of these policies.

Indonesia’s energy policy is to increase use of fossil fuels, in particular coal, with the result that emissions from the energy sector are expected to triple by 2030. Policies are in place to support the use of renewables, but there is a lack of financial incentives to support these policies and encourage uptake. The government is also expanding the production of biofuel, for both domestic use and export. This is largely produced from palm oil, and will require an extra 200,000ha of plantations in 2009, driving deforestation. Biofuel produced from Jatropha has the potential to rehabilitate degraded land and provide a source of rural livelihoods, but issues around deforestation and conflict over land remain to be resolved.

It is estimated that Indonesia has the potential for 235 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent (mtCO2e) in emissions reductions through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), however there are currently only 8 projects registered with the Executive Board of the CDM, accounting for 13mtCO2e of reductions. GTZ and the Asian Development Bank have been building the capacity for CDM in Indonesia, however, compared to neighbouring countries in Asia CDM is under-developed in Indonesia. Indonesia is currently lobbying the UNFCCC to include the proposal on avoided deforestation (REDD), whereby developing countries would receive compensation for preventing deforestation, as part of the next international agreement on climate change. Forests provide key ecosystem services, including regulating climate, reducing flood risk by slowing run-off and maintaining habitat and biodiversity. The protection of these services can reduce the impacts of climate change (for example fewer floods) increase the ability of communities to adapt to climate change, and support livelihood activities thus aiding poverty alleviation efforts. As such, there is great potential in Indonesia for mitigation projects (CDM, and REDD if this becomes operational) which also have adaptation and poverty alleviation benefits, such as the afforestation of mangroves which also protect against rising sea-level and contribute to improved livelihoods.

Update Aug 2010: Indonesian Green Fund

The ICCTF aims to attract, manage and mobilise funding to support the Government of Indonesia’s efforts to reduce emissions, move towards a low-carbon economy and adapt to the impact of climate change. Proposed in 2009 and operationalised in 2010 the Indonesia Climate Change Trust Fund (ICCTF) serves as one of the funding mechanisms in the climate change arena. It has two main general objectives:

  • To achieve Indonesia’s goals of a low carbon economy1 with greater resilience in the face of the impact of climate change dynamics.
  • To establish innovative ways to link international financial sources with national investment strategies, and simultaneously, to become a showcase of alternative financing for climate change mitigation and adaptation programs managed by government, in a transparent and accountable manner.

As of December 2009, two countries have pledged to the ICCTF: the UK has pledged GBP 10 million (USD 16.5 million) and Australia has pledged AUD 2 million (USD 1.8 million). The ICCTF has 3 priority areas for funding:

  • To contribute to the improvement of energy security in Indonesia and reduction of emissions from the energy sector;
  • To contribute to address deforestation and forest degradation issues and to advance sustainable management of peatlands and forest resources;
  • To contribute to responding to the adverse impacts of and risks posed by climate change that are already occurring, while at the same time preparing for future impacts through adaptation planning, cross cutting and inter-sectoral measures.


Useful Supporting documents (e.g. NAPAs, Capacity assessments, sectoral assessments)


AIACC (2006) A final report of the Assessments of Impacts and Adaptations to Climate Change (AIACC) project AS21: An Integrated assessment of climate change impacts, adaptations and vulnerability in watershed areas and communities in South-East Asia. The International START Secretariat, Washington DC.

IPCC (2007): Working Group I, Chapter 11: Regional Climate Projections. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M. Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

IPCC (2007b) Appendix 1: Glossary. In Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, [M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden and C.E. Hanson, Eds.], Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 273-313.

Kunkel, N. (2007) Adapting to Climate Change in Indonesia: Water Sector. GTZ: Eschborn, Germany.

MoE. 2007. Indonesia Country Report: Climate Variability and Climate Change, and their Implications. Ministry of Environment, Republic of Indonesia, Jakarta.

PEACE (2007) Indonesia and Climate Change: Current status and policies. PEACE, Jakarta.

Suryanti, Y. Summary on awareness raising and capacity building to address vulnerability and adaptation to climate change. Ministry of Environvent, Republic of Indonesia: Jakarta.

UNDP (2007) The other half of climate change: Why Indonesia must adapt to protect its poorest people. UNDP Indonesia Country Office, Jakarta.

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