Tuesday, January 07, 2020

Indonesia's Flood Denialism

Floods on New Year's Day that killed 60 people in Indonesia's capital after the biggest rainfall since records began. Nearly 100,000 people remain evacuated from their homes. Despite the catastrophe in Southeast Asia's biggest city, authorities see no greater impetus for more cuts to planned carbon dioxide emission reductions or other measures to address climate change.

Indonesia's meteorological department said it was the heaviest one-day rainfall since Dutch colonists began keeping records in 1866 and squarely blamed rising global temperatures.

"The impact of a one degree increase can be severe," Dwikorita Karnawati, the head of the agency, told a news conference on Friday. "Among that is these floods."
With one of the world's longest coastlines Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country, is extremely vulnerable to climate change. The metropolitan region of the capital Jakarta is home to 30 million people and parts of the city near the coast are sinking just as sea levels are rising.

However, the country is the world's fifth-largest emitter of the greenhouse gases that are blamed for causing the climate crisis. It is also the world's top exporter of both thermal coal and palm oil, whose cultivation has reduced the amount of carbon dioxide absorbing forests.

The floods were "a big wake up call," said Hidayah Hamzah, a research analyst at the World Resources environmental group in Jakarta.

The floods "should serve as a strong reminder to the government that things can't be business as usual," said Yuyun Harmono, a campaign manager at the Indonesian Forum for the Environment, the country's biggest green group.

But the green lobby has little sway in Indonesia.

"There aren't a lot of people who realize the impact of climate change," said Nirwono Joga, a researcher at the Urban Studies Center in Jakarta. "When the flood recedes and people get back to their homes and resume normal activities, flood management or concrete actions to combat climate change will be forgotten too."

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