Environment Counts | Climate Change and Indonesia
Author: Graham Yapp – Published At: 2011-07-18 10:44 – (703 Reads)
This paper examines Indonesiaâ€™s vulnerability to climate change, and her position in the global climate change mitigation effort as a signifi cant emitter with large potential for reducing emissions from forestry. It highlights the scope for Australia and Indonesiaâ€”both large emitters, one a developed country and potential buyer of emissions permits, the other a developing country and potential seller of permits â€” to play complementary roles in the global effort. The discussion outlines ways in which the two countries can cooperate with each other and with regional neighbours in mitigation initiatives and climate change adaptation. It suggests that their efforts could serve as a model for cooperation between developed and developing countries. The paper notes that the current global financial crisis is a short term problem, while climate change has its effects over the long term. The recessionary effect of the financial crisis is not a good reason for delaying climate change mitigation efforts by Indonesia and other countries.
I describe climate change as a diabolical policy problem, because of its complexity; because of the mismatch of time frames between the costs of mitigation (which come early) and the benefits (which come much later); and because of the prisonerâ€™s dilemma that inhibits international cooperation on mitigation (with each country having an incentive to do as little as possible if it thinks its own actions will not affect the policy decisions of others). The prisonerâ€™s dilemma intrudes here in a way that it does not in trade policy. In trade policy, while each country pretends that it is reluctant to reduce import barriers when it is negotiating with others, the economic reality is that each
country benefi ts from its own liberalisation, whatever other countries do. So if the trade negotiations fail, countries may and often do unilaterally reduce their protection. By contrast, with climate change, strong mitigation by one country aloneâ€”Australia, Indonesia or any but the two biggest economiesâ€”will have negligible effects on the cost of climate change to that country, except to the potentially significant extent that its actions affect the policies of other countries. The resolution of the prisonerâ€™s dilemma requires close communication and the development of potential agreements that share the benefi ts of cooperation in ways that are acceptable to all countries whose participation is essential to a global solution.
But while an effective response to climate change must be global, it must be built from the national contributions of sovereign countries, acting alone or together with others. Indonesia and Australia individually and together can contribute much to the global effort and to the success of the climate change policies of developing countries in the western Pacific region that we share.