15 Sep 2021
Marine Ecosystem Program Technical Assistant of KEHATI Foundation
The President of the United States of America, Joe Biden, recently made a statement that shocked the citizens of Jakarta. In his speech published by whitehouse.gov, Biden mentioned that the sea level rise can drown Jakarta in the next 10 years. Biden’s statement was conveyed after he learned about the increasingly extreme impact of climate change, with a projection of sea level rise of around two and a half feet, or about 76.2 cm.
In recent years, coastal areas in Jakarta have been suffering from rob floods more frequently. This has impacted governmental and economic activities, not only in Jakarta but also across Indonesia, because Jakarta is the country’s capital and the center of its economy. Rob floods are caused by the phenomenon of high-low tidal ebbs and flows occurring on both rainy and dry seasons. So this rob does not affect the rainfall rate. Another factor influencing the rob is the sea level rise caused by global warming. Also land subsidence resulting from the weight of increasing number of buildings, exacerbated by the uncontrolled use of ground water. Unfortunately, all of these factors can be found on the coastal areas in Jakarta, thus worsening the rob condition happening every year. In addition to the rob, the threat of abrasion is also imminent, due to many areas in Jakarta’s coasts are changing into industrial and residential areas.
Currently many parts in the northern coastal area of Jakarta have been left by their inhabitants because they are flooded with sea water, some are even permanently flooded. In several areas, like in Muara Angke, the sea level is higher than the land, separated by a dike. It seems that the forecast of several experts mentioning Jakarta will drown in 2050 is getting closer to coming true.
Various predictions that have been stated should make us realize of the potential disaster right in front of us. A number of actions must be done to reduce the effect of climate change, including by reducing the use of fossil fuel and increasing the use of emission-free renewable energy. The government’s commitment must be raised in the transition from using fossil energy to environmentally-friendly renewable energy. According to an advocacy and campaign organization on providing energy for the community, the Institute for Essential Services Reform (IESR), the mixture of fulfilment of renewable energy until the end of 2020 was only around 11.5 percent from the renewable energy development acceleration target of 23 percent by 2025. But on the other hand, the government will still add the use of fossil energy by adding the number of Electric Steam Power Plants (PLTU) until 2027, as enshrined in the draft of Electric Power Supply Plan (RUPTL) 2021-2030. This will surely make it difficult to achieve the target of reducing greenhouse gases and combating climate change in the near future.
Meanwhile, reducing the rate of land subsidence can be done by reducing ground water suction by finding other water sources that can be used. Furthermore, water catchment areas must be increased to make it easier for rain water to enter the land.
Besides reducing emission and reducing ground water suction mentioned above, are there any other actions that can be done?
Mangrove as Climate Change Mitigation and Barrier against Abrasion.
Climate change occurs because of global warming. Increased amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other gases in the atmosphere is the primary factor that causes global warming. The atmosphere’s temperature is rising significantly. If no mitigation is done, experts predict that the icebergs in the North Pole and South Pole will completely melt in 2050, and will drown many cities in the world, including Jakarta.
Mitigation efforts can be done by sequestering as much carbon as possible from the atmosphere. One ecosystem that can sequester carbon in large amounts is mangrove. Mangrove is a forest ecosystem that grows in coastal areas and is flooded by the phenomenon of tidal waters. Indonesia has the largest mangrove area in the world, around 3.31 million hectares. At the same time, mangrove is a vegetation that suffers from the fastest degradation in Indonesia. Often mangrove is only considered as “wasteland” that is waiting to be cleaned and built. One of the biggest degradation factors is land conversion into residential and industrial areas.
Mangrove, popular with its blue carbon, is known to be able to sequester carbon more than tropical plantations. Carbon in the atmosphere is sequestered and stored as biomass in tree stands and lands or sediments. On the other hand, cutting down mangrove means releasing carbon back to the atmosphere. There are numerous ecosystem services provided by mangrove to the nature and humans besides as a carbon sequesterer, one of which is as a barrier against abrasion. Its tough and efficient root system can hold the land in coastal areas from abrasion caused by waves and sea water stream.
There are many examples of areas in Indonesia that are developed without considering the environment, thus causing damages, such as clearing mangrove forest for embankment and residential areas. For instance in Muara Gembong, Bekasi District, 70 km from the capital, Jakarta. In the 1990s, this area was known as the Dollar Village, because the people’s income from embankment production reached 10 million per week. Problems started to arise when monetary crisis occurred in 1998, causing many fishers to expand their embankments by clearing the mangrove forest. These embankment only lasted until 2005. After that, problems began to happen, with rob flood coming every year, accompanied with abrasion. Until today, many houses are still missing and its inhabitants are forced to relocate. For example in Kampung Muarajaya, where around 50 houses are gone due to abrasion, and its people are forced to relocate to Kampung Baru in Pantaimekar Village.
Not only preventing abrasion from hitting coastal areas, planted mangroves can also provide other environmental services, such as preventing erosion and sea water intrusion. Jakarta can carry out similar activities to reduce the impact of rob in areas already flooded. By planting mangroves there, it will hold access of water from flooding areas behind them by slowly restoring the flooded areas. Subsequently, developing the capital must consider environmental aspects by making the environment a tool that supports life.
In a wider scale, to mitigate climate change, the government has accelerated the mangrove ecosystem restoration policy enshrined in the Presidential Regulation (Perpres) Number 21 Year 2020. President Jokowi has mandated the recovery of 600,000 hectare mangrove ecosystem in four years. This is an ambitious target, considering the target in the draft of National Medium Term Development Plan 2020-2024 (RPJMN 2020-2024) is 50,000 hectares by 2024. This high mangrove ecosystem restoration target, mandated to the Mangrove Peat Restoration Agency (BRGM), is also one of the Economic Recovery Program (PEN), engaging the community in providing mangrove seeds. This activity is expected to support the community’s economic recovery affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, amid the limited National Budget (APBN), this mangrove ecosystem restoration activity must also be supported by State-Owned Corporations (BUMN), Private Sector, and international funding. One way to do so is by allocating funds from Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for mangrove restoration program. Not only that, support from relevant ministries and local governments must also be strengthened so that the national government’s target can be integrated to the local level.