Saving Biodiversity is Inseperable to Coal-Fired Power Plants “Early Retirement”

The Government of Indonesia restated its commitment to achieving emission reduction and mitigating climate change at an Asian Development Bank (ADB) meeting in Jakarta on August 9, 2022.

The meeting discussed accelerating the implementation of the Energy Transition Mechanism, ADB’s program to accelerate the renewable energy transition in Indonesia by establishing early retirement of coal-fired power plants significantly.

The program is in line with The Government of Indonesia’s commitment to achieving emission reduction targets, stopping coal-fired power plants in 2023, accelerating the termination of coal-fired power plants’ operations, and increasing the use of clean energy.

Previously, ADB has stated the intertwined connection between saving biodiversity and mitigating climate change.

Ingrid Van Wees, ADB Vice-President for Finance and Risk Management stated that biodiversity loss as a result of climate change has caused risks to the financial sector. It was stated at the COP15 meeting on October 15, 2021.

Because of that, Ingrid encourages all financial institutions to engage in initiatives to include biodiversity in the risk and impact assessment on portfolios.

ADB itself plays a role by becoming a member of the Biodiversity Study Group of the (Network of Central Banks and Supervisors for Greening the Financial System) and an observer to the Taskforce on Nature Related Financial Disclosures.

Therefore, the agenda for saving biodiversity becomes very crucial to also be considered in determining early retirement for coal-fired power plants in implementing ETM.

The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), through the new recommendation draft of The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (which has yet to be finalized), has reported that currently more than 70 percent of the land on the planet has been transformed, more than 60 percent of the oceans have been impacted and more than 80 percent of wetlands have been lost, while more than 1 million species are facing extinction.

More than 1 million species are also facing extinction. This was reported at the 4th CBD meeting to discuss The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework in Nairobi, Kenya on June 21-26, 2022.

Coal-fired power plant impact on biodiversity

Indonesia, as a mega-biodiversity country, needs to quickly transition to renewable energy that is more environmentally friendly because coal-fired power plants have been proven to contribute to environmental damage. Pollutants produced by burning fossil fuels are the biggest factor in smog, acid rain, and climate change.

Climate change is closely related to the rapid mass extinction of biodiversity.

Ecology Action and People Emancipation (AEER) Association has conducted a study on the impact of coal-fired power plants on biodiversity on Sumatra Island and Sulawesi Island. The study covers 53 unit coal-fired power plants in Sumatra and 19 unit coal-fired power plants in Sulawesi.

The result is that 24 coal-fired power plants in Sumatra are in the high threat category to biodiversity, 23 units are in the moderate threat category, and 6 units are in the low threat category. In Sulawesi, 17 coal-fired power plants are in the high threat category to biodiversity and 2 units are in the moderate threat category.

For example, coal-fired power plants found to have the most negative impact on biodiversity in Sumatra is Sumsel-8 coal-fired power plant and in Sulawesi is Sulut-3 coal-fired power plant. Both coal-fired power plants scored -20, so they were classified as a high threat category.

Later, the implementation of early retirement by ETM should be imposed on coal-fired power plants that have high category scores and have only operated for two years to run optimally with the implementation of early retirement for coal-fired power plants which is also planned by the State Electricity Company (PLN).

The criteria used in the impact assessment are the presence of vulnerable, endangered, and critically endangered species, protected species, endemic, and high economic and cultural value. Other than that, the other criteria are the presence of a vulnerable and protected ecosystem

Several endangered species are found around coal-fired power plants area in Sumatra, which are the Sumatran elephant, Sumatran tiger, and Sumatran Orangutan. Meanwhile, several species around coal-fired plants area in Sulawesi are maleo bird, yaki, and anoa.

Coal-fired power plant activities also threaten the presence of vulnerable ecosystems like mangroves and coral reefs. Saving biodiversity is inseparable from efforts to achieve emission reduction targets and mitigate climate change. Therefore, ETM implementation, ADB’s program to implement early retirement to coal-fired power plants in Indonesia, needs to be supported and kept under watch, so the implementation of the energy transition to renewable energy is conducted optimally and saves biodiversity and climate.

This article is first published by

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