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Cautious welcome to Indonesia’s “green port” initiative to clean up maritime transport


  • Indonesia is launching a program to make the country’s ports more environmentally friendly with the aim of reducing carbon emissions and protecting the marine ecosystem.
  • The so-called green port initiative will encourage greater use of clean energy and boost environmental protection, a senior official said.
  • Some maritime observers have welcomed the initiative, saying it is a crucial step towards achieving Indonesia’s emissions reduction target.
  • But others say the green port initiative will serve to cover the environmental impacts of the government’s port construction frenzy and benefit private investors rather than the general public.

JAKARTA – Indonesia is launching a program to make the country’s ports more environmentally friendly with the aim of reducing carbon emissions and protecting the marine ecosystem.

The national initiative known as the green port will focus on encouraging greater use of clean energy and strengthening environmental protection, according to Basilio Dias Araujo, Deputy for Maritime and Energy Sovereignty at the Indonesian Ministry for the Coordination of Maritime Affairs and Investment.

A new port under construction in the Riau Islands province. Image by M. Ambari / Mongabay Indonesia.

Basilio said the program was part of the Southeast Asian country’s plans to achieve a 29% reduction in emissions by 2030, as promised by the Paris Agreement. He added that initial efforts would include setting up port terminals for domestic and international ships using low sulfur marine fuel oil and installing solar panels in ports.

“The Indonesian government will also switch from petrol to natural gas for small boats,” Basilio said at a side event at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, last month.

Indonesia is the largest archipelagic country in the world and has 2,459 ports, all of which will be subject to the new “green port” standard, according to the government. The country also occupies a key maritime position straddling the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and is home to the Straits of Malacca, Sunda and Lombok, which are crossed by more than 200,000 freighters each year. Basilio said maritime activity in Indonesian waters contributes 19% of the country’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.

The government has been testing its “green port” standard in 10 major ports since 2019. The criteria comply with the standards prescribed by the Green Port Award System (GPAS), the APEC Port System Network (APSN) and the World Association for Water Transport Infrastructure (PIANC) in 10 major seaports in the country. It has also ratified Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) which deals with air pollution from ocean-going ships.

Maritime observers in Indonesia hailed the green port initiative, calling it a crucial step in addressing the global climate crisis. They also recommend that the government produce a national roadmap detailing clear objectives and strategies for decarbonizing maritime transport activities.

“This roadmap will help ensure that the green port program is not only operationally sustainable, but also supports the goal of decarbonizing shipping and decarbonizing Indonesia in general,” Jeremia Humolong Prasetya, researcher at Indonesia Ocean Justice Initiative think tank. (IOJI), Mongabay said in an interview.

Jeremia said the government could use the green ports roadmap to encourage other G20 countries at the group’s next summit in 2022, to be held in Bali, to partner with Indonesia to establish corridors global ecological shipping and increase investment in the country’s renewable energy sector. .

“It will be very difficult [for Indonesia] to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement without decarbonizing shipping, ”said Jeremia.

Fishing boats moored in a port off Jakarta. Image by M. Ambari / Mongabay Indonesia.

The government must also ensure strict implementation and monitoring of the green port program to prevent it from becoming a mere greenwashing exercise by the shipping industry, said Abdi Suhufan, national coordinator of the shipping industry. ‘NGO Destructive Fishing Watch (DFW) Indonesia.

“Many fishing ports still do not have a WWTP [wastewater treatment plants], while those who have them are in poor condition, ”Abdi told Mongabay in an interview.

He said that a key indicator of success for the green port program would be the recovery of Indonesia’s marine ecosystem and the sustainability of its fisheries.

But others have expressed concern that the program is just a cover-up of the environmental impacts caused by the government’s port construction frenzy, and that any resulting benefits would flow to private investors rather than the public.

“For us it seems absurd to talk about green harbors for marine conservation if the materials, like sand, come from the destruction of other places,” said Susan Herawati, secretary general of the Coalition for Fisheries Justice (KIARA) , an NGO, Mongabay said in an interview.

“We’re not necessarily anti-development, but we’re not trying to sell green and sustainable issues for the sake of developing something that the public doesn’t really need or that isn’t welfare oriented. public, but rather for the private sector, ”she added.

Susan cited the case of the new port being built in Makassar, the largest city on the island of Sulawesi. This project involves the reclamation of land, for which sand is dredged from the neighboring islands of Sangkarrang. The dredging activity has disrupted traditional fishing grounds and resulted in lower catches and loss of income for fishermen, according to the community and environmental activists. The fishermen staged a series of protests, including block a dredging vessel and organize a night event in front of the office of the governor of South Sulawesi province.

For the green port initiative to be truly green and sustainable, said Susan, the government must defend the interests of traditional fishermen and small-scale fishermen and coastal communities, especially women fishermen and indigenous coastal communities.

“I understand that this is part of achieving the SDGs” – Sustainable Development Goals – “but stop commodifying sustainable and environmentally friendly labels when in principle it continues to steal from others and further exacerbate the climate crisis, which will impact women fishermen, aquaculturists and coastal communities, ”said Susan.

Plastic pollution is endemic in Indonesian ports. Image by Anton Wisuda / Mongabay Indonesia.

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Climate, Climate change, Climate change policy, Coastal ecosystems, Development, Environment, Environmental law, Fisheries, Fisheries, Impact of climate change, Infrastructure, Islands, Marine, Marine ecosystems, Ocean warming, Oceans, Oceans and climate change, Ports, Transport


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