Activists: Bioenergy increases emissions and worsens deforestation in Indonesia

Jakarta – Civil society organisations (CSOs) focusing on biofuel and biomass issues call on the 2024 presidential and vice presidential candidates to realise a low-emission and equitable energy transition. CSOs consider that current bioenergy policies threaten the environment and society.

Based on the mapping of the implementation of the biomass energy transition and observations of new deforestation barns in Indonesia, Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI) reports that during 2017-2021, there were 55 thousand hectares of forest deforestation and projections that there will be more deforestation on 4.65 million hectares of forest. This potential is based on observations made on bioenergy development activities through biomass in the current coal-powered plants.

“We give a warning to the three candidates that if biomass is implemented by co-firing, if it continues to use the same governance in the current 52 coal-fired power plants, then the projection of Indonesia’s natural forests that will be adversely impacted will reach 4.65 million hectares,” said Anggi Putra Prayoga, FWI Campaign, Advocacy and Media Manager in a written statement.

In more detail, he said that there are 13 Energy Plantation Forest (HTE) companies that have currently deforested 55 thousand hectares of forest in Indonesia due to the implementation of this massive 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 in 43 coal-fired power plants by burning one million tons of biomass in 2023 resulted in 1.7 million tons of carbon emissions. This co-firing practice also has the potential to extend the operational life of old coal-fired power plants that have been operating for more than 30 years.

The biofuel policy also largely relies on feedstock from palm oil, with the risk of massive expansion of palm oil land. The use of palm oil as a raw material for biofuels, especially biodiesel, impacts the availability of palm oil for food production, such as cooking oil.

By 2022, GAPKI (Indonesian Palm Oil Association) data projects that palm oil consumption for food will reach 9.6 million tons, while palm oil consumption for biodiesel will almost follow at 8.8 million tons. This competition for using palm oil for biofuel will eventually trigger deforestation due to the need for land expansion to meet the demand of both sectors. (Hartatik)

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