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Indonesia Sectors

What is Indonesiaʼs pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

LULUCF emissions profile trajectories

Between 2005–2020, almost half of Indonesia’s total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were from the land sector, mainly due to commodity-driven deforestation (particularly for palm oil), forestry, and peat fires.1-4 Over many years, palm oil, pulp and paper, and timber industries have cleared and prepared the carbon-rich peatland through slash-and-burn tactics and water drainage, leaving the peat layers dry and highly flammable.5 After forest fire outbreaks in 2015, a year in which the land sector contributed around 80% of the country’s total GHG emissions, Indonesia enforced a moratorium on the clearing and draining of peat lands and primary forests for new oil palm, pulpwood, and timber plantations.3,5

In its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), Indonesia unconditionally pledged to reduce its emissions by 29% below business-as-usual (BAU) levels by 2030 and to reach net zero emissions by 2060 or sooner, through a net sink in the LULUCF sector.4,7 In the 1.5°C compatible pathway analysed here, reforestation and afforestation results in carbon removals of -10 MtCO₂/year by 2030. However, LULUCF continues to be a primary source of future emissions in this pathway, mainly due to continued emissions from peatland that has been drained in the past. Peatland restoration measures will be needed to mitigate these emissions. However, the moratorium law that intends to protect and restore peatland has been underdelivered on, suggesting urgent needs to improve these efforts.8 Moreover, Indonesia urgently needs to focus on reducing emissions through reducing deforestation, which is currently under risk as Indonesia has announced new regulation with loopholes that could potentially result in land clearing for agriculture and oil palm.9,10

An analysis estimated that reforestation while securing food, fibre, and biodiversity could remove 212 MtCO₂e/year by 2030; however, greater potential lies in peatland restoration.17 This estimate is higher than in the analysed 1.5°C compatible pathway, which suggests that there could be more reforestation potential in Indonesia than what the underlying model estimates. However, Indonesia needs adequate international support for large-scale afforestation/reforestation.7

1 Climate Transparency. Indonesia, Country Profile 2020. 2020.

2 Tacconi, L. & Muttaqin, M. Z. Reducing emissions from land use change in Indonesia: An overview. Forest Policy and Economics 108, 1–3 (2019).

3 Mongabay Haze Beat. Green groups raise red flags over Jokowi’s widely acclaimed haze law. Mongabay (2016).

4 Ministry of Environment and Forestry. Updated Nationally Determined Contribution Republic of Indonesia. 2021.

5 Oliver Balch. Indonesia’s forest fires: everything you need to know. The Guardian (2015).

6 Dunne, D. The Carbon Brief Profile: Indonesia. 2019.

7 Ministry of Environment and Forestry. Indonesia Long-Term Strategy for Low Carbon and Climate Resilience 2050. 2021.

8 Jong, H. N. ‘Dangerous’ new regulation puts Indonesia’s carbon-rich peatlands at risk. Mongabay (2019).

9 Jong, H. N. Indonesia ends timber legality rule, stoking fears of illegal logging boom. Mongabay (2020).

10 Jong, H. N. New rule puts Indonesia’s protected forests up for grabs for agribusiness. Mongabay (2020).

11 Giacomo Grassi et al. Critical adjustment of land mitigation pathways for assessing countries’ climate progress. Nature Climate Change 11, (2021).

12 Hamzah, H., Juliane, R., Samadhi, N. & Wijaya, A. Indonesia’s Deforestation Dropped 60 Percent in 2017, but There’s More to Do. World Resources Institute Indonesia (2018).

13 Global Forest Watch. Global Forest Watch: Forest Change in Indonesia. 2022.

14 Jong, H. N. Indonesia forest-clearing ban is made permanent, but labeled ‘propaganda.’ Mongabay (2019).

15 Jong, H. N. Land-swap rule among Indonesian President Jokowi’s latest peat reforms. Mongabay (2017).

16 Stallard, E. & Song, W. Indonesia’s biodiesel drive is leading to deforestation. BBC News (2021).

17 Griscom, B. W. et al. Global Reforestation Potential Map. doi:10.5281/zenodo.883444.

18 PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. IMAGE. Integrated Model to Assess the Global Environment. Preprint at (2021).

19 FAO. FAOSTAT: Emissions Totals. FAOSTAT (2022).

Indonesiaʼs LULUCF emissions


20052010201520202025203020352040204520502055206002004006008001 000
1 08401 084
  • Historical removals on managed land
  • Historical land-use emissions
  • Net historical land-use emissions
  • Modelled removals from afforestation / reforestation
  • Modelled land-use emissions
  • Net modelled land-use emissions

Forest area change

Nationwide forest fires in 2015 caused forest cover loss at a 50% higher rate than in 2005.12 This has been exacerbated by illegal logging and forest conversion to palm oil, timber, and pulp-and-paper plantations. In 2017, Indonesia experienced a 60% drop in tree cover loss, compared to 2016, partly due to the moratorium on clearing primary forests.13 Despite this progress, Indonesia still needs to improve forest governance, for example by establishing joint efforts with plantation companies to protect forests and peatlands, and to halt deforestation in the future.7,12,13

In the 1.5°C compatible pathway analysed here, forest cover loss caused by deforestation declines steeply between 2035 and 2040. Indonesia urgently needs to halt deforestation through better governance that restricts agriculture expansion and illegal logging.4

The 1.5°C compatible pathway indicates that Indonesia can increase forest cover starting from 2025 through afforestation/reforestation, with a rate between 0.1 to 0.8 million ha/year. This results in an increase in forest area by around 6.5 million ha by 2050 (see figure of Indonesia’s Forest area change). To put this in context, this is about a quarter of the total forest loss in 2002–2021, which was 27.5 million ha.13

Indonesia plans to increase forest areas through afforestation/reforestation on forest and peatland, and protect the remaining primary forests.7 However, threats remain. Despite the moratorium, deforestation and forest fires are still occurring in protected areas.14 This is linked to counterproductive policies that reduces the extent of protected peat landscapes as well as policies allowing the conversion of protected forests to large-scale commodity plantations.8,10 Unprotected forests could also be subject to deforestation after Indonesia proposed a “land swap” scheme which offers substitute lands for companies whose plantations are located in protected areas.15 A push to increase palm oil-based biofuel intake for transportation would further put pressure on Indonesian forests and peat landscapes.16 Indonesia needs to find a balance between palm oil production and environmental protection to increase forest area, halt deforestation and peatland restoration.3

Indonesiaʼs Forest area change

Million ha / yr

  • Modelled forest loss
  • Modelled afforestation and reforestation
  • Modelled net forest area changes

Evolution of land-use pattern

Indonesia’s emissions reduction and carbon removal strategies are centred around forests and cropland.4,7 By 2030, Indonesia plans to increase forest areas through afforestation/reforestation and avoiding deforestation by optimising the use of unproductive lands (i.e. abandoned areas) for agriculture.4

Under the 1.5°C compatible pathway, the area for cropland expands to 4% by 2030 compared to 2020 levels. During that period, pasture land decreases by 17% compared to 2020 levels. Between 2040 and 2050, the area of cropland decreases, which could be made possible through sustainable agricultural practices that reduces pressure on forest land. In 2050, forests remain as the dominant land use type in Indonesia, with a 7% larger area than in 2020. Declines in cropland, pastureland, and the area of other natural land, such as grasslands, shrubs and abandoned area, frees land for the rapid growth in forested areas after 2040.

Indonesia requires international support such as finance, technology and capacity development to fulfil the food demand of its growing population while pursuing efforts to improve its agricultural practices.7 Several measures Indonesia plans to adopt includes planting crop varieties with improved productivity and expanding cropland on grasslands, shrubs and abandoned lands to reduce pressure on forests. Optimising the use of lands for different economic purposes could further reduce pressure on forests, such as complex agroforestry that combines livestock and palm oil.7 Afforestation, reforestation and natural regeneration on non-forest areas could increase forested area, and expanding protected forest could prevent deforestation in Indonesia’s primary forests. Restoration, protection, and improved management of peatlands would need to remain a priority in Indonesia alongside forestry and agriculture.4,7

n1. Climate Action Tracker. Indonesia. November 2021 update. Climate Action Tracker. (2021).

2 Indonesia LTS-LCCR 2050. Indonesia Long-Term Strategy for Low Carbon and Climate Resilience 2050 (Indonesia LTS-LCCR 2050). (2021).

3 Kementerian PPN/Bappenas. Low Carbon Development : A Paradigm Shift Towards a Green Economy in Indonesia. (2019).

4 Climate Action Tracker. Indonesia. CAT Climate Governance Series. Climate Action Tracker. (2021).

5 Climate Action Tracker. Coal Phase Out and Energy Transition Pathways. Climate Action Tracker. (2021).

6 Climate Action Tracker. How a COVID-19 recovery with less coal could benefit Indonesia. Climate Action Tracker. (2021).

7 Climate Action Tracker. Indonesia. September 2020 update. Climate Action Tracker. (2020).

8 Climate Transparency. Climate Transparency Report. (2020).

9 BP. Statistical Review of World Energy 2021. (2021).

10 OEC. Indonesia. Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC). (2019).

11 Rahman, D. F. PLN pledges carbon neutrality by 2050 . The Jakarta Post (2021).

12 Development Bank, A. Indonesia Energy Sector Assessment, Strategy, and Road Map – Update. (2020).

13 Kharina, A. et al. Biofuels Policy in Indonesia: Overview and Status Report. (2016).

14 Climate Action Tracker. Indonesia. CAT Scaling Up Climate Action Series. Climate Action Tracker. (2019).

15 World Resource Institute. CAIT Paris Contributions Map – Explore Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

16 NDC-Indonesia. Updated Nationally Determined Contribution-Republic of Indonesia. (2021).

17 Hans Nicholas Jong. Indonesia says no new coal plants from 2023 (after the next 100 or so). (2021).

18 Ministry of Energy Mineral Resources Republic of Indonesia. Indonesia’s Effort to Phase Out and Rationalise Its Fossil-Fuel Subsidies A self report on the G-20 peer review of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption in Indonesia. (2019).

19 Ministry of Research. and H. E. Indonesia Center of excellence for ccs and ccus. 2017.

20 Reuters. Indonesia carbon capture storage projects could need $500 mln, official says. Reuters. (2021).

21 Fuentes, U. et al. Decarbonising South & South East Asia – Country Profile – Indonesia. (2019).

22 Climate Action Tracker. Paris Agreement Compatible Sectoral Benchmarks: Elaborating the decarbonisation roadmap. Climate Action Tracker. (2020).

23 Climate Transparency. Indonesia. Climate Transparency Country Profile. (2021).

24 IEA. Indonesia. International Energy Agency. (2021).

25 PIK. The PRIMAP-hist national historical emissions time series. (2021).

26 IEA. E4 Country Profile: Energy Efficiency Indonesia. (2021).

27 Saputra, G. & Simanjuntak, U. The Need for Supportive Policy for the Indonesian Electric Vehicle Development. (2021).

28 ICCT. The hidden cost of Indonesia’s biodiesel mandate to consumers. International Council on Clean Transportation. (2017).

29 While global cost-effective pathways assessed by the IPCC Special Report 1.5°C provide useful guidance for an upper-limit of emissions trajectories for developed countries, they underestimate the feasible space for such countries to reach net zero earlier. The current generation of models tend to depend strongly on land-use sinks outside of currently developed countries and include fossil fuel use well beyond the time at which these could be phased out, compared to what is understood from bottom-up approaches. The scientific teams which provide these global pathways constantly improve the technologies represented in their models – and novel CDR technologies are now being included in new studies focused on deep mitigation scenarios meeting the Paris Agreement. A wide assessment database of these new scenarios is not yet available; thus, we rely on available scenarios which focus particularly on BECCS as a net-negative emission technology. Accordingly, we do not yet consider land-sector emissions (LULUCF) and other CDR approaches.

30 Fossil fuel with CCS in the power sector are very likely to emit at the very least a tenth of the average emissions compared with an installation without CCS and therefore cannot be considered a zero or low-carbon technology. Costs of CCS in the power sector have remained stagnant over the last decade. CCS technologies in the power sector also have a non-trivial sustainability footprint in terms of increased water use, higher fossil resource demands and consequential mining and production footprint, and in general do not address local air pollution concerns. The CCS technologies are also uncertain regarding security of storage over very long periods of time and the need for legal structure to allow it to happen.

Indonesiaʼs Land cover areas

million ha

  • Other Natural Area
  • Pasture
  • Forest
  • Cropland
  • Builtup

Indonesiaʼs land cover change relative to 2020

million ha

  • Other Natural Area
  • Pasture
  • Forest
  • Cropland
  • Builtup