COP27 climate talks: Indonesia agrees to cut emissions at the G20

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COP27 climate talks: A big emitter takes a big step in Indonesia

This special COP27 briefing originally appeared on Nov. 15 in our flagship daily newsletter, Grid Today. Sign up for it here to get the context and consequences of the news in your inbox each day.


The biggest news here today came not from Egypt but from the G-20 summit in Bali, where an agreement between Indonesia and other countries will in theory mobilize $20 billion to help wean the world’s fourth-largest country by population — and a top-10 carbon dioxide emitter — off coal power.

“We’ve wrestled with countless issues to arrive at today’s groundbreaking announcement,” said U.S. Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry in a statement.

The agreement, known as a Just Energy Transition Partnership or JETP, was brokered primarily by the U.S. and Japan, and is supported by countries including Denmark, Canada, the U.K. and others. Indonesian President Joko Widodo touted the move as part of a broader effort to push enormous amounts of money toward an energy transition, which of course is a huge focus of the efforts here in Egypt: “Indonesia is proud to help mobilize the game changing global goal to catalyze $600 billion in infrastructure investment by 2027,” he said in a statement.

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Half of the $20 billion will come from public funding from other countries and half will be provided by private finance, according to the deal. It is slated to help Indonesia peak its emissions by 2030, seven years ahead of schedule, and to reach net-zero by 2050 — a big improvement on its current goal of reaching that target by 2060. Climate Action Tracker rates Indonesia’s pledges as “highly insufficient,” so clearly the JETP will make a difference.

The deal is similar to one inked in Glasgow last year with South Africa, another coal-heavy economy, but the progress in that country has been rocky, as the Washington Post has reported. Also, in both countries, the promised money pales in comparison to what is needed to actually abandon coal entirely: In Indonesia, the price tag is likely upward of $600 billion.

Still, with the negotiations feeling a bit shaky here in Sharm el-Sheikh, one of the world’s largest emitters plotting a course toward a cleaner future should be chalked up as a win.

Dwindling chances

Speaking of shaky: Though I find the precision somewhat dubious, BloombergNEF now gives COP27 only a 33 percent change of “success,” meaning strong progress toward the goals of the Paris Agreement. That’s down from a 43 percent chance estimated before the COP began, reflective of the announcements out of Egypt and the ongoing progress of negotiations.

Some of the commentary delivered by ministers at today’s “high-level” plenary session reflects this tenuous situation, in particular on the possibility I wrote about yesterday that the 1.5 degree Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) target might be left on the cutting room floor. “1.5 degrees is not a target — it is a limit. We have all agreed on this,” said Sweden’s Minister of Climate and Environment Romina Pourmokhtari.

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Dickson Panakitasi Mua, minister of forestry and research for the Solomon Islands, agreed that the ambitious target should not be abandoned. “Our goal to remain within 1.5 degrees is reachable,” he said, adding that the loss and damage discussion is central to his country’s needs. “We are in a constant mode of recovery from weather extremes driven by climate change. … We must make a decision to establish a loss and damage fund at COP27.”

Finally, acknowledging the global turmoil in which the talks are happening, Denmark’s Minister of Climate, Energy and Utilities Dan Jørgensen said: “We are a fleet in a perfect storm.”

A non-polar bear

Protesters’ presence here has been quite muted, as expected. A few people urging the world to go vegan have been camped out in front of the COP, and at least one small human rights protest did take place inside the grounds, with repeated “Free them all!” chants, referring to Egypt’s many political prisoners. But since participation of the outside world is so limited, here is among the only minor protests one can find, a polar bear infiltrating the tropical island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis.

A person dressed in a polar bear costume at COP27 in Egypt.
  • Dave Levitan
    Dave Levitan

    Climate Reporter

    Dave Levitan is a climate reporter for Grid where he focuses on interconnected stories about climate and science, and politics shaping action around both.