US, Japan-led climate pact set to offer Indonesia US$15b

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THE US, Japan and other countries are finalising a climate finance deal that would offer at least US$15 billion to help Indonesia shift its coal-dominated power grid away from the polluting fossil fuel.

A "just energy transition partnership", or JETP, could be announced as soon as Tuesday (Nov 15) during the Group of 20 meetings in Bali after roughly a year of negotiations, according to several people familiar with the plans, who asked not to be named because the details aren't yet public.

The deal would enable Indonesia to accelerate efforts to shutter excess coal power generation capacity, and to limit its pipeline of coal power projects, factors that are currently thwarting the development of renewable energy, the people said. Some details could change before an announcement is made, according to the people.

A spokesperson for the US Treasury Department declined to comment. Japan's foreign ministry and representatives from Indonesia's finance and energy ministries didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Indonesia recently stepped up its emissions reduction targets with plans for more aggressive greenhouse gas cuts by 2030, and has set out a goal of reaching net-zero by 2060 by developing more solar, geothermal and nuclear power. Coal currently dominates the nation's economy, accounting for more than half of the country's electricity and is a key driver of growth - Indonesia is the world's top exporter of thermal coal.

The agreement is modelled after a similar US$8.5 billion climate finance deal for South Africa first outlined at last year's UN climate summit, while talks are also under way on efforts to strike pacts for nations including Senegal and India. South Africa only this month published a detailed investment plan, showing how complex it can be to turn initial bare bones deals into fully realised proposals.

However, unlike the South African deal, which was hastily advanced at last year's climate summit, the Indonesian JETP is the product of a full year of negotiations and the initial framework is more detailed, according to some of the people.

Though the announcement is set to be delivered alongside the G20 meetings, the details will reverberate all the way to the COP27 climate summit in Egypt, where a central issue is how to get more investment dollars to work building renewable power projects in developing nations.

Indonesia's abundance of thermal coal and large volume of potential power plant projects have long been cited as a barrier to the nation bringing on more capacity in renewables. State-run electricity utility Perusahaan Listrik Negara, or PLN, has a pipeline of about 13.7 gigawatts of new coal generating capacity under construction or development.

Under the JETP, some of those new coal plants would not be built and total new coal power capacity additions would shrink to about 10 gigawatts, some of the people said. PLN didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

It's not immediately clear how many existing coal plants PLN would commit to closing early under the deal, though company executives previously have identified 6.7 gigawatts for potential early retirement. BLOOMBERG

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