Indonesia Raises Its Net Zero Ambition—Can It Be a Leader for Climate Commitments in Southeast Asia?

Workers at a hydrogen power plant in Indonesia monitoring operations.
Indonesia targets to reach net zero emissions by 2060 or sooner. Photo credit: ADB

This article is published in collaboration with Climateworks Centre.

Indonesia’s Long-Term Strategy for Low Carbon and Climate Resilience was officially submitted on 22 July 2021. The strategy describes climate change mitigation and adaptation pathways, as well as cross-cutting issues which are important to achieving climate targets laid out in the plan, such as a just transition, gender equality, attention to indigenous people, and the need for more international cooperation on technology and finance.

Grabbing the most attention are two much anticipated aspirations: the long-term strategy states that emissions from the nation will peak in 2030, and that Indonesia will reach net zero emissions by 2060 or sooner. This inclusion is a sign that Indonesia is capable of aiming higher and providing leadership in the Southeast Asia region. 

The speed of Indonesia’s journey in net zero aspiration is remarkable. Just last year, net zero was not a phrase heard on policymakers’ lips. But by the first quarter of 2021, there was a plan to target net zero emissions by 2070, accompanied by unofficial studies looking at achieving net zero by 2050, or even 2045. Many discussions, particularly among key ministries, have led to the bolder aspiration included in the recently released strategy. 

This swift increase in climate ambition involved a lot of background work and discussions, including by the ClimateWorks team in Indonesia. ClimateWorks supported the strategy process from October 2020 to January 2021—collaborating with 2050 Pathways Platform to support the Directorate of Mitigation at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, under funding from the European Climate Foundation.


This year, ClimateWorks is continuing to support the raising of net zero ambition, collaborating with more organizations in the region and advising key stakeholders, including through our ASEAN Green Futures project with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network and Sunway University.

In Indonesia, ClimateWorks is proud to be collaborating with the Institute for Economic and Social Research and Institute for Sustainable Earth and Resources—both from the University of Indonesia, the Mandiri Institute, and United in Diversity. The multidisciplinary team is working to inform key decision makers on how Indonesia can accelerate its climate agenda to achieve sustainable development.

ClimateWorks facilitates progressive discussions and compiles findings about how ASEAN countries can bring their climate and economic development aspirations to a global audience. 


The Institute for Economic and Social Research, with input from the other collaborators, has highlighted recommendations to ensure Indonesia benefits from a stronger climate commitment and actions. 

Firstly, ahead of G20 leadership next year and ASEAN leadership in 2023, Indonesia can initiate and take a leading role among ASEAN countries to set regional targets, collaborate, and increase commitment for more decisive climate action. By taking this position, Indonesia can promote regional collaboration by increasing ASEAN’s participation in global value chains for goods and services that drive green economic recoveries, such as electric vehicles (EVs) and battery electric vehicles. Indonesia can also promote collaboration to expand multilateral electricity trading in the region, while increasing its capacity to absorb renewable energy through the ASEAN power grid. 

Secondly, at the national level Indonesia can build off of current momentum to improve coordination of net zero targets and other establishment of domestic green policies. There are several areas Indonesia can step up its efforts, including the following, and many more: 

  • implementing a coal phase-out program
  • ensuring a just transition in the decarbonization process
  • establishing carbon pricing policy and emission trading system with a view to implement it internationally 
  • optimizing the potential carbon sink especially from coastal and ocean ecosystems
  • implementing a circular economy in waste management (including trials of environmental tax to non-recycled products)
  • exploring research and development in green hydrogen technology and use.

Indonesia can use its success in any of these areas to share lessons of how an emerging economy can commit to an ambitious climate target and come out as a winner, and hopefully motivate its peers to undergo a similar transition. 

This article was first published by ClimateWorks Australia, now Climateworks Centre, on 8 August 2021.

 Guntur Sutiyono is ClimateWorks' country lead for Indonesia.