Ordonez, J. A., Jakob, M., Steckel, J. C., & Fünfgeld, A.

Coal, power and coal-powered politics in Indonesia

in Environmental Science & Policy, 26.05.2021

Peer Review , Climate and Development

Indonesia is among the countries with the largest planned coal power capacity additions worldwide, thereby posing a substantial challenge for global climate change mitigation goals. To understand the underlying political drivers, we carry out expert interviews and examine how individual actors and their objectives, as well as the country context influence energy policy formulation. We find that under President Joko Widodo, energy policy formulation has been driven by the development of public infrastructure, while securing popularity for the presidential election in 2019. State-owned enterprises represent a source of political patronage and are employed to achieve those goals. Diminishing export markets have incentivized the politically well-connected and highly concentrated Indonesian coal industry to lobby for the construction of coal-fired power plants in order to raise domestic demand. There is also a strong incentive to sustain coal mining as a key economic activity, as associated royalties significantly contribute to local and national public budgets. Local pollution and climate change mitigation are of low priority. Despite the government’s documented awareness of the energy sector as the biggest contributor to future emissions, climate protection is narrowly framed as a forestry and land-use issue.