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On the frontline of global warming, south-east Asia’s dawdling jeopardises net zero – Sydney Morning Herald

It credits recent announcements including Indonesia bringing forward its net-zero goal from 2070 to 2060, the Philippines stopping new coal power plants being built and the likes of Singapore and Thailand outlining national green plans.

“However, SEA is not on track, and there is a lot of work to do,” it says, calling for the transition from fossil fuels to green energy to be sped up and urging transformation of the food sector.

The report says $US2 trillion ($A2.8 trillion) of investment in clean energy over the next decade is required for south-east Asia to properly tackle its reliance on natural resources, with only $US9 billion ($A12.5 billion) in capital channelled into renewable energy businesses and assets in 2020.

Indonesia, the world’s second biggest coal exporter, eighth largest carbon emitter and the defacto leader of the ASEAN bloc, shapes as the key player in intensifying efforts.

President Joko Widodo, who has ambitious plans to shift Indonesia’s capital from Jakarta to Borneo because of the metropolis’s vulnerability to rising sea levels, has flagged making the green economy a priority when the country takes over the G20 presidency next year.

Joko’s crackdown on logging and new palm oil plantations has reduced forest fires and rates of deforestation – the top contributor to Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions – and his government has also proposed a new carbon tax.

However, Indonesia doesn’t plan on phasing out coal-powered plants until the 2050s, even if China’s decision last week to stop financing new coal projects abroad looms as a global game changer.

Joko’s government in September also terminated an agreement with Norway, which had struck an incentive-based deal to pay Indonesia $US1 billion ($A1.4 billion) a year to protect its rainforests to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Thai people wade through floodwaters in Chaiyaphum province, north-east of Bangkok, on Tuesday.

Thai people wade through floodwaters in Chaiyaphum province, north-east of Bangkok, on Tuesday.Credit:AP

Norway’s failure to stump up the cash was given as the reason for the agreement being ripped up but the Indonesian government said it would not change its commitment to bring down emissions.

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“Indonesia has recorded significant progress and achievements to fulfil its obligation under the Paris Agreement, which has been ratified,” Indonesia’s foreign ministry said as the ending of the deal was announced.

“Indonesia’s achievement can also be seen, among others, on the lowest rate of deforestation in the past 20 years, including the significant reduction on forest fires.”

Malaysia, which alongside Indonesia produces more than 80 per cent of the world’s palm oil, said this week it was committing to being carbon neutral “by 2050 at the earliest”.

Thailand is aiming to be net zero by 2065 to 2070.

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