Global warming strange to many


Adianto P. Simamora ,  The Jakarta Post ,  Jakarta   |  Fri, 06/06/2008 1:15 AM  |  Headlines

Students of the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) stage a demonstration at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle on Thursday to promote  energy conservation awareness. The rally was held to mark World Environment Day. (JP/Ricky Yudhistira) Students of the Bogor Institute of Agriculture (IPB) stage a demonstration at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle on Thursday to promote energy conservation awareness. The rally was held to mark World Environment Day. (JP/Ricky Yudhistira)

What exactly are greenhouse gas emissions? That was the first question a teacher asked during a forum on climate change held to mark World Environmental Day here Thursday.

Siti Zulfah, who teaches at an elementary school in Menteng, Central Jakarta, said she found it difficult to explain global warming to her students because of her own background and lack of knowledge.

“Climate change has become a much-discussed topic among students, but could you explain to us exactly what greenhouse gas emissions are and how do we deal with the impacts of climate change?” she asked.

The discussion was presented by Amanda Katili, an advisor to State Minister for the Environment Rachmat Witoelar. Amanda recently attended a training session on climate change under the direct tutelage of Nobel Peace Prize co-winner Al Gore, whose documentary on global warming, An Inconvenient Truth, won an Academy Award.

About 100 university lecturers and teachers from elementary, junior high and high schools attended the discussion.

Timoty Daud, a teacher from a high school in Jakarta, also asked a very basic question about global warming: “What are some websites that explain climate change issues?”

Amanda said she appreciated the “active” participants and thanked them for their “great questions”.

In her presentation, Amanda screened colorful slides illustrating the impacts and scientific data about global warming, ranging from melting ice caps to massive floods in China.

“All these slides belong to Al Gore, I just selected the pictures that are appropriate for you to help you understand climate change more easily,” she told the participants.

She insisted that global warming was real and all countries in the world had experienced its effects.

“Indonesia is not an exception; we are also very vulnerable to climate change. We just have to look at the recent flooding in Jakarta or other environmental events to see the impacts of climate change,” she said.

She said teachers could involve themselves in mitigation and adaptation efforts in their capacity both as individuals and as members of institutions.

“Just start small, but think big,” she said.

Amanda said to mitigate climate change, teachers could reduce the use of paper, which could lead to a decrease in deforestation.

“Don’t take a bath with warm water because it uses more energy. Have your children take public transport to school and turn off the lights whenever you leave a room,” she said.

“By doing this, you are doing your part in cutting greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide. The gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are called greenhouse gas emissions,” Amanda told the participants.

After two hours of discussion, the teachers walked around the Jakarta Convention Center to look at an environmental exhibition themed “CO2 — Kick the habit! Toward a low carbon economy”.

Dozens of mining, plantation and automotive companies furnished their booths in green with the message writ large: “Kick the carbon dioxide habit to protect the earth”.

Carbon dioxide, mainly caused from the burning of fossil fuels, is considered one of the greatest contributors to climate change.

Climate change issues have become more well-known in Indonesia since the world’s biggest climate change conference, with about 10,000 delegates, was held in Bali last year.

The conference produced the Bali road map, which aims to pave the way for the world to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deal with the effects of rising temperatures.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono marked World Environmental Day with a call for people to plant trees as part of the effort to tackle climate change.

Businesses told to take climate change seriously


Businesses told to take climate change seriously

Adianto P. Simamora ,  The Jakarta Post ,  Jakarta   |  Sat, 06/07/2008 11:24 AM  |  National

The State Minister for the Environment Rachmat Witoelar has appealed to Indonesian business players to cut emissions substantially, to help fight human-induced climate change.

Combating climate change is in fact mandatory for all companies operating in the country based on laws on the environment, forestry and corporate social responsibility (CSR), and the newly-enacted waste management law, he said.

“I humbly appeal to you to do something to address climate change, and if choose to keep running business as usual, I will let the laws talk,” Rachmat told dozens of business people Friday at a seminar on climate change.

“The motives for reducing emissions are very clear — to protect yourself, your children and your grandchildren against warmer temperatures or rising sea levels. That’s why it’s also for your own benefit.”

The waste management law, for example, obliges business players to use recyclable packing and withdraw unrecyclable garbage, because it pollutes the environment and in some cases contributes greenhouse gas emissions, Rachmat said.

The law says violators of the waste management law could be fined between Rp 5 billion and 10 billion with up to 10 years in prison.

Rachmat also urged all present to make individual sacrifices to save the next generations from the serious impacts of a warmer world.

“If you love your children or grandchildren, I ask you to make individual actions to tackle climate change. We can’t stop global warming but we can slow it down,” he said.

Pak Sulis, for example, can motivate his 10,000 employees to take action to address the climate change.”

The minister was referring to Sulistiyanto, one of the directors of the Sinar Mas group who attended the seminar themed, “Can CSR reduce global warming?”

Rachmat also urged businesspeople to believe in assessments made by the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC), which declared global warming an unequivocal event.

“Please believe the IPCC report. Signs of the impacts of climate change are already here,” Rachmat said.

The IPCC is the world’s top authority on climate change. It has so far issued four reports, including scientific data and impacts of human-induced climate change.

The report, written and reviewed by some 2,500 scientists, has predicted Indonesia would get between 0.2 and 1 degree Celsius warmer each year.

The IPCC has also predicted sea levels rising between 18 cm and 58 cm by 2100.

“If you run business as usual, part of Jakarta and Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Banten will be inundated. This will, of course, affect your businesses,” the minister said.

He also promised to provide incentives for companies committed to reducing emissions (and disincentives for those that didn’t).

“The government has set some regulations such as giving free import taxes to companies importing equipment used to reduce pollution and protect the environment,” he said.

The IPCC report suggests a range of adaptation measures including limiting new buildings along threatened coastlines, building corridors to allow threatened species to migrate and improve water conservation.

Students add pedal power to green movement


Adianto P. Simamora ,  The Jakarta Post ,  Jakarta   |  Mon, 06/09/2008 10:29 AM  |  Headlines

Ega Geovani, a second grader at a state junior high school, could not hide her glee as she received a new bicycle Saturday during the commemoration of the World Environmental Day in Jakarta.

The student of the state junior high school SMPN 2 Karawang, West Java, usually has to walk three kilometers from her grandmother’s house in Kampung Kalem, Bojong Sari, to school due to expensive transportation costs.

“I never dreamt of having a new bicycle. It is the greatest present in my life because now I can cycle to school,” she told The Jakarta Post.

Ega, whose mother works as a farmer, is one of more than 1,000 students granted free bicycles under the Bike to School program.

The program was officially launched in Jakarta on Saturday with a target to provide one million bicycles to elementary to junior high-school students across the country.

The program is jointly run by a consortium of the Centre for Betterment of Education (CBE), the Bike to Work (B2W) community, alumni from the University of Indonesia and a teachers club.

“We first provided bicycles to 20 elementary students in Gunung Kidul three years ago, when many students had to drop out of schools because of the expensive transportation costs following the 2005 fuel prices hike,” consortium chairman Ahmad Rizal said.

“However, with the rising issue of global warming, we then enlarged our program by involving companies to donate bikes as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility programs.

“We will choose students eligible for bicycles. The priorities are those from poor families,” Rizal added.

State oil and gas company Pertamina has provided 1,000 bicycles to the consortium.

“We target to donate up to 5,000 bicycles for distribution to poor families, mainly those living near our operational offices around the country,” Pertamina corporate secretary Sudirman Said said.

Eddy Widiono, chairman of a national team on energy saving, said cycling would form part of a new lifestyle for people concerned with global warming.

“If more children cycle to school, it will be good for the environment. It will lead to less traffic congestions, less pollution and fewer emissions that cause global warming,” he said.

Experts have said the burning of fossil-fuels is a main contributor to global warming.

“Cycling is one way to reduce emissions from the transportation sector, but the government needs to support the program by providing special lanes for bikers, parking areas or special bathrooms,” said Eddy, also former president director of state electricity company PT PLN.

He said the energy saving team was currently formulating a plan to reduce energy consumption in the country, mainly in state offices.

The move aims to tackle the high prices of energy and the world’s global warming problems, he added.

“We will publicly announce which state offices are the biggest consumers of energy.”

Oxfam: Poor nations should think twice about biofuel boom


The Associated Press ,  Brussels   |  Wed, 06/25/2008 2:56 AM  |  World

Anti-poverty group Oxfam International on Tuesday urged the world’s poorest nations to think twice before jumping on a biofuel boom that could drive farmers off their land and hit food supplies.

In a report, campaigners recommended that developing countries “move with extreme caution” before embarking on any broad push to increase output of energy crops such as palm oil.

It said biofuel exports to Europe and the United States may be lucrative but the potential economic, social and environmental costs are “severe.”

Oxfam said governments need to set safeguards to make sure small farmers are not thrown off their land and that food crops continue to be grown.

The report said Indonesia has seen sharp price rises for palm oil which local people use as a staple cooking oil as the government sets aside 40 percent of output for biofuel.

It warned that this may worsen because both Indonesia and Malaysia want to produce more palm oil to supply a fifth of Europe’s future biofuel demand.

Oxfam is calling on the European Union to scrap a target for biofuel to replace a tenth of transport fuel by 2020. It says the target will not fulfill Europe’s goal of either reducing greenhouse gas emissions or cutting its dependence on imported oil.

“Biofuels currently provide a solution neither to the oil nor to the climate crisis, and are now contributing to a third: the food crisis,” Oxfam spokesman Robert Bailey told reporters.

The group claims that biofuels are partly responsible for hikes in food prices and are to blame for dragging some 30 million people worldwide into poverty.

Europe appears to be rethinking its target. EU leaders last week called for a careful assessment of how using more biofuels might affect global food production.

However, some voices see biofuels as a huge opportunity for developing countries.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva says the biofuel boom creates a profitable export for energy crop producers in Africa, Central America and Caribbean that would allow them to claw their way out of poverty.(*)

Students lead the green way


The Jakarta Post ,  Jakarta   |  Thu, 06/05/2008 10:12 AM  |  City

(JP/R.B erto Wedhatama)(JP/R.B erto Wedhatama)

State Elementary School No. 12 in Bendungan Hilir, Central Jakarta, found it was easy to be green with a number of environmentally-conscious programs set up on Wednesday.

Non-profit organization Solar Generation Indonesia led a Student Action for Climate workshop at the school, aiming to improve students’ awareness about modern environmental issues and to encourage them to save energy, its spokesman Galih Aji said.

The school’s lightbulbs were replaced with low energy bulbs while a solar juice booth, powered by solar power, served drinks.

“We also presented the school with an 18-square-meter mural containing messages about saving the earth. The mural shows symbols of renewable energy sources like water, wind, sun and geothermal,” Galih said.

School principal Murliati said the school had been trying to include as many environmental issues in its curriculum as possible in the last year.

“In a program called Adi Wiyata, each student is required to take care of a plant, and report the plant’s condition to their teachers every day,” she said.

“The school also has a program called Friday Clean Day, in which each student is required to bring in anything that is no longer used by their family, like old newspapers,” she said.

The school of 223 students also teaches students to make compost using leaves from the school yard and to manage a fishpond and medical plants garden also located in the school. (uwi)

RI a ‘major emitter’? No matter


Adianto P. Simamora ,  The Jakarta Post ,  Jakarta   |  Mon, 06/09/2008 10:29 AM  |  National

The government will remain steadfast in its efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions despite an international claim that Indonesia is part of a “major emitter group” along with India, China, Brazil, South Africa.

Environment Minister Rachmat Witoelar said the country’s inclusion in the group would not disturb ongoing talks to set targets for cutting emissions as mandated by a road map compiled during last November’s United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Bali.

“The label will not disturb the negotiations and I am upbeat the emission reduction target as set in the Bali road map can be met as discussions are on track,” Rachmat, president of the UNFCCC, said Saturday on the sidelines of a climate change seminar in Jakarta on Saturday.

Government delegations from 190 countries agreed during a meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark, to set emission reduction targets by 2009 to replace the first commitment of the Kyoto Protocol.

The protocol, which expires in 2012, requires rich nations cut emissions by 5 percent to help tackle climate change.

Since the conference in Bali last year, a series of formal and informal talks have been held to hammer out a deal.

Delegations from 170 countries, including Indonesia, are currently gathering for two weeks in Bonn, Germany, to formulate specific emissions reduction targets to follow up a March meeting in Thailand.

During a May meeting in Japan, the Group of Eight (G8) rich nations held climate talks involving members of what they called the “major emitter group” to seek mid-term emissions reductions. The group is set to meet again in Japan in July.

The meetings have been at the focus of the world since Washington hinted in a draft summit declaration, dated May 5, it would reject the commitments unless the “major emitting nations” also signed up during the July talks, Reuters reported.

Rachmat said he would attend the July G8 meeting, and insisted emissions cuts should be a requirement for rich nations.

He said the United States’ long-standing opposition to the cuts could change following the country’s presidential election in November.

“But if (the meeting) fails, we will appeal to the next U.S. president to join us,” he said.

The emissions cut target is not binding for Indonesia and other developing countries, and China and India, Asia’s foremost emerging economies, have long said they would not adhere to any binding targets.

Rachmat has announced Indonesia’s energy sector will reduce emissions by 17 percent by 2025.

In his speech to the G8 meeting last month in Kobe, he also said Indonesia would meet a zero forest fires target.

Indonesia has come under increasing pressure, especially from its neighbors, including Singapore, for its failure to prevent annual forest fires, which significantly contribute to the country’s emissions level.

Indonesia is the world’s third largest forestry nation with about 120 million hectares of rainforest.

UN climate talks chairman Luiz Figueiredo Machado urged the ongoing Bonn meeting to hammer out specific proposals to tackle global warming.

“Set down concrete proposals as soon as possible,” he said, as quoted by Reuters.

Young scientists uncover styrofoam waste treatment


Multa Fidrus ,  The Jakarta Post ,  Tangerang   |  Sun, 05/25/2008 12:01 PM  |  Discover

Vici Riyani (right) and Adriene Trinovia Sulistyo are photographed at a lab in Santa Laurensia high school, Tangerang. (JP/Multa Fidrus)Vici Riyani (right) and Adriene Trinovia Sulistyo are photographed at a lab in Santa Laurensia high school, Tangerang. (JP/Multa Fidrus)

Vici Riyani and Adrienne Trinovia Sulistyo, second-year and third-year students at Santa Laurensia senior high school in Tangerang, have found a waste treatment solution for styrofoam.

Through a series of simple research and experiments they conducted at the school’s science lab, the two students proved that orange peel extract could be used to dissolve styrofoam.

The young scientists’ discovery even brought recognition to the country when they won a silver medal at the 2nd International Environmental Project Olympiad (INEPO Euroasia) held from April 1-6 in Baku, Azerbaijan, beating out 35 other entries.

The students’ entry was titledWaste Treatment Using a Chemical Sulfonation*Process and Traditional Treatment with Crude Extract From Sunkist Orange Peel”.

“Our experiment started from a concern, because we realize that styrofoam cannot be recycled and if such non-organic waste is ignored, it will contribute to environmental damage,” Riyani told The Jakarta Post during an interview at her school Thursday.

She added that the use of styrofoam containers for packaging fruits, vegetables and prepared foods sold at supermarkets had become more and more commonplace.

Riyani said orange peel extract contains d-limonene, which can be converted into a polymer flocculant and used to break down styrofoam into water. The environmentally friendly process requires no complicated equipment or chemicals.

“This method is very simple and it can be done by everyone,” she said.

As part of their research, Riyani and Adrienne observed that restaurants in Jakarta and Yogyakarta could each produce at least 120 cubic meters of styrofoam food containers.

“The problem is that after use, the styrofoam is thrown away at a dumpsite. The mounds of styrofoam waste has become a serious problem because it cannot be recycled; nor can it be decomposed by microorganisms in the soil or air,” she said.

Adrienne noted that the old treatment method for styrofoam waste was to burn it in an incinerator, but this produced the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. This also produced carbon monoxide, which is harmful to the human respiratory system.

“So far, there have been no safe and effective way to overcome the piles of styrofoam waste,” she added.

Under the guidance of their science teachers at Laurensia, Riyani and Adrienne referred to books, the Internet and experiments to come up with their own trials.

Their initial experiment showed that orange peels could break down styrofoam because it contains d-limonene, which is found in the peel of all citruses and is frequently used in cleaning fluids.

“D-limonene has proven to be effective in dissolving grease, but using it to dissolve polystyrene-based waste has never been introduced,” said Adrienne.

During their trial experiement, Riyani and Adrienne liquefied orange peels in a blender and then distilled the liquid to collect an extract. They then soaked styrofoam cut into small pieces in the orange peel extract, and stirred the mixture until the styrofoam melted away.

The resulting liquid of orange peel extract and dissolved styrofoam is safe to dispose, because it can be decomposed by microorganisms in the air and soil.

“It’s easy to obtain orange peels, which is also garbage. So we treat waste with waste,” said Adrienne. The two students also invented another way to destroy styrofoam through a chemical process called sulfonation.

Cut-up styrofoam is mixed with chloroform and sulfuric acid and left for two hours at 45 degrees Celsius, which turns the mixture into a liquid form of sodium polystyrene sulfonate (PSSNa). After a separation and neutralization process using sodium hydroxide (NaOH), the liquid is dried to produce polymer powder.

While this treatment method is more complicated, it produces additional benefits.

“The polymer powder can be used as a super-plastifier in the cement industry and as a polymer in water purification,” Adrienne said.

With such inexpensive and efficient solutions, the country, its businesses and its people now have no reason to keep contributing to environmental destruction by throwing out styrofoam waste.