Countries that reached a landmark agreement to reduce emissions during the COP21 Paris climate meeting have stumbled in their efforts to translate their pledges into action on phasing out coal from their energy platforms.
As the momentum to implement the Paris agreement has slowed amid slumping economic growth, nations have faced domestic constraints to identify a clear path to phase out use of high-carbon sources of energy.
As Indonesia, the world’s fifthlargest coal producer, continues to struggle in dealing with land and forest fires, it has expressed its commitment to reduce its dependence on coal in its first nationally defined contribution (NDC) reported to the COP21.
Aiming to cut emissions by 29 percent by 2030 through its own efforts and 41 percent with international cooperation, Indonesia has pledged in its action plan to reduce energy supply supported by coal to a minimum of 30 percent in 2025 and 25 percent in 2050.
About 55.7 percent of the country’s energy derived from coal in 2015, while renewable sources such as geothermal and hydropower made up only 9.9 percent.
Indonesia has renewed its commitment at the COP22 Marrakech climate summit.
“The reduction scheme is already stipulated in our [national energy strategy]. We are looking for technological support to aid the reduction,” said Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar.
But in Marrakech, there’s an air of deceleration from other countries. The conference’s parties have decided to put the plan on the back burner, as many of the Paris signatories have yet to ratify or submit their national action plans.
As of Tuesday, 109 of the 197 countries had ratified the agreement, hampering the first meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA1).
Germany, Europe’s biggest economy and the main initiator of the joint global agreement, is on the brink of breaching its green credentials after failing to submit a national action plan prior to the commencement of the conference.
The German government faced resistance from an opposition party over its national plan concerning its pledge to reduce the use of lignite, also known as brown coal.
In 2015, 44 percent of the country’s energy was generated from coal and about 31 percent derived from renewables.
Still reeling from the surprise victory of US president-elect Donald Trump, who is widely known as a climate change denier and an ardent supporter of coal, the United States said it remained committed to action, but gave no indication as to what the upcoming administration had in the pipeline.
Trump has picked Myron Ebell, an advocate for the fossil fuel industry and climate contrarian, to sit on the transition team of the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), raising fears that he may dismantle President Barack Obama’s climate plan.
But even without Trump, the US has yet to define its strategy to phase out coal. In its NDC document submitted by the Obama administration, the US, the second-largest producer after China, does not address coal in its planned action.
“With the agreement having entered into force, it’s no longer a question on whether to accelerate the agreement implementation, but a question on when and how,” said US special envoy on climate change Jonathan Pershing.
The US still relies on coal to meet 33 percent of its energy needs, while about 17 percent comes from renewables.
“We’re installing for economic reasons, not policies favoring one source over another, but economic-driven programs,” Pershing said.
While refusing to reveal plans of the future administration, Pershing said the world should continue action, with or without the US.
Indonesia special envoy for climate change Rachmat Witoelar said the country would remain committed even if the developed countries lagged in their commitments.
“This is the commitment that has been built for years and should be protected,” he said.