The Issue, Strategy, and Control Measure Policy Analysis of Low-Carbon Emissions Development in Indonesia’s Agriculture

The Issue, Strategy, and Control Measure Policy Analysis of Low-Carbon Emissions Development in Indonesia’s Agriculture

Published: 2023.05.22
Accepted: 2023.05.12
Department of Agribusiness, Bogor Agricultural University (IPB), Indonesia
Deputy Secretary General
National Leadership Council Indonesian Farmers Union (HKTI)
Indonesian Agricultural Researcher’s Alliance (APPERTANI)
Policy Analyst
Indonesian Center for Agriculture Socio Economic and Policy Studies (ICASEPS)


This paper analyzes the issue, strategy, and control measure policy of low-carbon emissions development in Indonesia’s agriculture. The result of the analysis shows that during the last decade (2010-2020), agriculture contributes about 7.86% of the total national carbon emissions. The Government of Indonesia has implemented some strategies such as assembling and applying appropriate technologies-based specific locations toward developing low-carbon emissions. Those are supported by several regulations including the current regulation of the President of the Republic of Indonesia Number 98/2021 on the Implementation of Carbon Economic Value to Achieve Nationally Determined Contribution Targets and Control of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in National Development. This particular regulation is expected to encourage all parties to develop low-carbon emissions throughout the country. Hence, it is required to enhance the awareness of agricultural stakeholders through developing national and local development plans in line with government-driven commitments supported by monitoring, evaluation, and reporting systems based-evidence, budget, and dynamic models for developing low carbon emissions in the country.

Keywords:  carbon emissions, agriculture, issue, strategy, control measure policy, development, Indonesia



Climate change is a global concern because of the impact it has disrupts various aspects of human life (social, economic, cultural, health) and ecosystem sustainability. Indonesia, as an archipelagic country with a large population, is a country that is vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change. Indonesia has been committed to playing an important role in efforts to control climate change by ratifying the Paris Agreement by implementing Law Number 16/ 2016 (GoI, 2016).

The Paris Agreement is a joint commitment of countries around the world to restrain the rate of increase in average temperature globally below 2°C and continue efforts to reduce global average temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. To achieve this target, Indonesia has set a contribution to the reduction of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions called the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) including aspects of mitigation action and adaptation actions as well as resource support (funding, capacity building, and climate change technology transfer).

UNDP (2022) underlines that there is a global gap between the emissions reductions promised and the emissions reductions needed to achieve the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.  First, countries’ new and updated nationally determined contributions (NDCs) submitted since the Conference of the Parties (COP) 26 in 2021 reduce projected global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in 2030 by only 0.5 gigatons of CO2 equivalent (Gt CO2e), compared with emissions projections based on mitigation pledges at the time of COP 26. Second, countries are off track to achieving even the globally highly insufficient NDCs. Third, the emissions gap in 2030 is 15 Gt CO2e annually for a 2°C pathway and 23 GtCO2e for a 1.5°C pathway. This assumes full implementation of the unconditional NDCs and is for a 66% chance of staying below the stated temperature limit. If, in addition, the conditional NDCs are fully implemented, each of these gaps is reduced by about 3 Gt CO2e. Fourth, there is no additional policy action projected that would result in global warming of 2.8°C, over the 21st  century (implementations of unconditional and conditional NDC scenarios reduce this to 2.6°C and 2.4°C, respectively). Fifth, carbon emissions must be reduced by 45% compared with emissions projections under policies currently in place in just eight years, and they must continue to decline rapidly after 2030.  This serious situation was recognized, and countries were called upon to revisit and strengthen their 2030 targets by the end of 2022. Consequently, a key question is what progress has been made and how can the necessary transformations be initiated and accelerated.

In realizing the obligation to contribute to reducing carbon emissions, the Government of Indonesia (GoI) has good modalities for carrying out climate change control, including the updated NDC 2021 document and Long Term Low Carbon and Climate Resilience Strategy through documents Long-Term Strategy for Low Carbon and Climate Resilience (LTS-LCCR) 2050.

Agriculture is one of the contributors to carbon emissions besides energy, forestry, and other land uses (FOLU), forest fire waste and industrial processes and product use (IPPU), and wastes. Hence, this paper aims to discuss the issue of carbon emissions, particularly in the agricultural sector in Indonesia. It follows by analyzing the strategy and control measure policies as well as the conclusion and recommendation to develop low carbon emissions in Indonesia’s agriculture.


Carbon emissions are part of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) that constitute a group of gases contributing to global warming and climate change. These emissions are categorized as the non-fluorinated gases stipulated in the Kyoto Protocol, an environmental agreement adopted by many of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1997 to curb global warming. Converting them to carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) makes it possible to compare them and determine their individual and total contributions to global warming (ESE, 2016).

According to Graham et al. (2021), a colossal environmental cost has increased along with a rapid global population expansion. Meanwhile, global GDP per capita has nearly tripled since 1960, and carbon emissions have quadrupled during the same period. Roughly two-thirds of this increase has occurred during the last three decades. In 2020, the world’s top three emitters are China, the United States, and India accounting for around 52.78% of global carbon emissions. It increased by about 4.32% as compared to the last decade ago (2010).

Table 1 presents the world’s top 20 countries for carbon emissions, including developed and developing countries. These countries contribute about 80% of the total global carbon emissions due to economic development with enormous expansion in carbon emissions. Notably, China, the USA, and India were the top three emitter countries accounting for around 60%.

Indonesia was ranked 14th  in 2010 with a contribution of about 1.76% of the total top 20 countries for carbon emissions. In 2020, Indonesia ranked 10th  with a contribution of around 2.15%. The contribution of carbon emission in Indonesia can be divided into six sectors, namely: (1) Energy; (2) Forestry and Other Land Uses (FOLU); (3) Forest and peat fires; (4) Agriculture; (5) Industrial Processes and Product Uses (IPPU); and (6) Wastes. The top three contributors were energy, FOLU, and forest fire (82.10%). It was followed by IPPU and waste sectors (10.68%). Agriculture contributes 7.22% of the total carbon emissions in Indonesia (Figure 1).

The following discussion initially focuses on the largest contributor of carbon emissions as grouped as non-agricultural sectors (energy, FOLU, forest and peat fires, IPPU, and waste). It is subsequently followed by the agriculture sector. From 2010 to 2020, Table 2 shows the average contribution of carbon emissions from the non-agricultural sector i.e., 1,302,739 Gt CO2e, was much higher than that of the agricultural sector i.e., 101,410 Gt CO2e, per year respectively. In other words, the extent of contribution of the non-agricultural sector was more than ten times that compared of the agricultural sector (92.78% vs. 7.22%). 

Carbon emissions in non-agriculture sector

Carbon emissions in energy sub-sector

Carbon emissions in the energy sub-sector comprises: (1) Fuel combustion from energy and manufacturing industries, transportation, and other sources (residential, commerce, construction, and mining); (2) Fugitive emissions from fuel production including energy and manufacturing industries;  (3) CO2 transportation, injection, and storage activities related to Carbon Capture Storage (CCS).

During the last decade (2010-2020), the total quantity of carbon emissions in this sub-sector was 5,818,638 Gt CO2e. This quantity had increased by about 3.11% per year, namely from 434,715 Gt CO2e in 2010 to 584,284 Gt CO2e in 2020 (Figure 2).

Carbon emissions in FOLU sub-sector

In FOLU (Forest and Other Land Uses) sub-sector, carbon emissions are divided into 12 categories. They are: (1) Forest land remaining forest land; (2) Land converted to forest land; (3) Cropland remaining cropland; (4) Land converted to cropland; (5) Grassland remaining grassland; (6) Land converted to grassland; (7) Wetlands remaining wetlands; (8) Land converted to wetlands; (9) Settlements remaining settlements; (10) Land converted to settlements; (11) Other lands remaining other lands; and (12) Land converted to other lands. The sources of carbon emissions are divided into three removal/emissions from: (1) Changes in above-ground carbon stocks (above-ground biomass); (2) Decompositions of peat land; and (3) Cases of peat fires.

From 2010 to 2020, the extent of carbon emissions in the FOLU sub-sector was quite high (32.61% per year) i.e., from 75,009 Gt CO2e in 2010 to 164,974 Gt CO2e in 2020. The highest contribution was in 2015 and 2018, primarily caused by forest and peatland fires.

Carbon emissions in forest and peat fires sub-sector

Forest and peat fires (kahutla) can be categorized as natural disasters. These phenomena are related to the geographical position of Indonesia which is located at the cross position between two continents and two oceans (ring of fire) at the equator with various advantages and vulnerabilities (Rafani, 2020).

During the last 10 years (2010-2020), the extent of carbon emissions in these sub-sectors was higher as compared to other sub-sectors, especially in 2014, 2015, and 2019 due to the occurrence of El Niňo (Figure 4). There was a dry climate and reduced rainfall, causing forest and peatland to become dry and highly flammable. This is suspected to be one of the factors causing forest and peatland fires that have lasted quite a long time and covered quite a large area.

Carbon emissions in IPPU sub-sector

Carbon emissions in IPPU (Industrial Processes and Product Uses) sub-sector include carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and perfluorocarbons (PFC) in the form of tetrafluoromethane (CF4) and hexafluoroethane (C2F6). The resulting emissions, especially CO2, mostly come from energy use and production process activities. Various sources of carbon emissions from industry in Indonesia are classified based on the type of industry which can be grouped into mineral, chemical, metal, use of non-energy fuel products and solvents, electronics, and others. Industrial types are grouped into mineral, chemical, metal, use of non-energy fuel and solvent products, electronics, and others.

The quantity of carbon emissions in this sub-sector was quite smaller than those of other sub-sectors, namely 47,772 Gt CO2e per year. Carbon emissions in this sub-sector increased about 5.07% annually i.e., from 35,732 Gt CO2e in 2010 to 57,194 Gt CO2e in 2020, increased about 5.07% annually (Figure 5).

Carbon emissions in waste sub-sector

The main source of carbon emissions in the waste sub-sector is related to management activities. These are classified into four categories, namely: (1) Management of domestic solid waste (garbage) in landfills, biological management or composting, open burning, and incineration; (2) Management of domestic liquid wastes both centralized management at Waste Water Treatment Plant (IPAL) and management with septic tanks, waste pit and others, (3) Management of industrial liquid waste; and (4) Industrial waste management.

The average quantity of carbon emissions in this sub-sector from 2010 to 2020 was 102,156 Gt CO2e per year. There was an increase of about 3.77% annually, from 87,766 Gt CO2e in 2010 to 126,797 Gt CO2e in 2010 (Figure 6).

Carbon emissions in the agricultural sector

Carbon emission in the agricultural sector can be classified into four categories related to land, livestock, aggregate sources and non-carbon emissions sources on land, and others. Among other things, it includes: (1) Emissions from lowland rice cultivation (methane emissions from lowland rice cultivation); (2) Application of urea fertilizer on agricultural land; (3) Application of agricultural lime from agricultural land management (use of limestone and dolomite); (4) Direct emission of N2O from managed soil; (5) Indirect emission of N2O from managed soils, (6) Atmospheric deposition of volatile nitrogen in managed soils, (7) Application of nitrogen on managed soil; (8) Livestock (emissions from enteric fermentation); (9) Livestock manure management including direct N2O emissions from manure management on livestock grazing fields and indirect N2O emissions from livestock manure management on livestock grazing fields; and (10) Burning of shifting agricultural biomass.

Total carbon emission in the agricultural sector from 2010 to 2020 was about 1,115,510 Gt CO2e, or slightly increased by around 0.24% annually. Figure 7 shows that the highest cases were in 2017, 2018, and 2019 (104,906 Gt CO2e per year), or higher as compared to 2010 (96,955 Gt CO2e) and 2020 (98,703 Gt CO2e). According to Firmansyah (2022), the carbon emissions during these periods increased due to the expansion of planting areas including the program of UPSUS (special effort) for rice, maize, and soybean. Apart from that, the increasing carbon emissions were also influenced by forest and land fires since these not only occurred in the forest but also affected agriculture as part of the land-based sector.

The government of Indonesia has set the policy concept as “carbon in-setting” which allows people to take active “carbon offsetting” action to reduce carbon footprints in the agricultural sector. The strategies and actions of this policy concept are summarized in Table 3.



As an effort to realize the accelerated contribution to reducing carbon emissions, the government has issued a policy through the stipulation of Presidential Regulation Number 98/2021 on the Implementation of Carbon Economic Value to Achieve Nationally Determined Contribution Targets and Control of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in National Development. This regulation is a universal indicator in measuring the performance of efforts to control climate change that is reflected in contributions set nationally, in addition to having important economic value and having an international dimension mainly in the form of economic benefits for society.

The economic value of carbon is one of the instruments in realizing the government’s obligation to contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through the selection of the most efficient, effective, mitigation, and adaptation actions without reducing the achievement of contribution targets set nationally. It is the value of each unit of carbon emissions resulting from human and economic activities.

In general, two factors potentially drive to increase in carbon emissions in the agricultural sector. First, an increase in needs for food and industries based on raw materials from agriculture. Second, the government seeks to increase food sovereignty. This means that domestic food production must continue to be increased either through intensification or extensification patterns. However, both patterns have potentially increased carbon emissions due to cultivation technology and land expansion.

One of the alternatives that can be carried out by the agricultural sector is efforts to reduce carbon emissions within the tolerance limits of the principles of environmental sustainability and conservation. However, the budget allocation for low-carbon emissions development was limited. Apart from that, there is a trade-off between the government’s efforts to increase food production through subsidized inorganic fertilizers and implemented conventional irrigation systems to increase food production. These aspects are the biggest contributors to carbon emissions in the agricultural sector.  

Reducing carbon emissions in the agricultural sector also has a big trade-off with the government’s efforts to realize agriculture based on environmental sustainability, subsidized inorganic fertilizers, and conventional irrigation systems to increase food production. These two aspects; however, are the biggest contributors to carbon emissions in the agricultural sector.

It is required to increase the contribution of the agricultural sector concerning low carbon emissions development in agriculture (Bappenas, 2021). They are:

  1. Support the implementation of all sub-typologies of low carbon emissions activities. If this cannot be done simultaneously, a sub-typology of activities that have significant potential in reducing carbon emissions can at least be put forward, namely related to the use of irrigation water, reducing emissions from livestock activities, and applying cultivation techniques that can capture more carbon emissions;
  2. Continue to assemble and apply appropriate cultivation technologies in low carbon emission development that can be applied in all areas as well as those that are specific to certain areas since basically agriculture is locally specific; and
  3. Increase budget for research on the effectiveness of organic farming in reducing carbon with plant types and locations, increased productivity, and results from dissemination widely.

The real challenge is how to encourage stakeholders to carry out mitigation actions along with reducing carbon emissions. Consequently, it is expected that Presidential Regulation Number 98/2021 strategically encourages all parties to develop low carbon emissions throughout the country.

Control measure policy

The Government of Indonesia has issued several regulations related to low-carbon development in agriculture. It emphasizes that agricultural cultivation must be carried out according to the principles of environmental sustainability, land, water, and agroecosystem conservation. Various supporting facilities, such as production inputs, irrigation, and cultivation equipment, must also comply with these regulations (Bappenas, 2021). Table 4 shows the substantial points of regulations toward developing low carbon emissions in the country.

From 2010 to 2019, the Indonesian Minister of Agriculture implemented three mitigation programs related to low-carbon emissions development. They were: (1) Implementation of plant cultivation technology through Integrated Crops Management Field School (SL-PTT), Climate Field School (S-LI), and introduction of low emission varieties; (2) Utilization of organic fertilizers and bio-pesticides (UPPO); and (3) Application of livestock manure/urine and agricultural waste for biogas (Batamas).

Since 2020, the mitigation has been expanded in seven programs based on the decision letter of the Director of Agricultural Planning Bureau Number 2055/2020 (MoA, 2020). It includes: (1) Mitigating CH4 emissions through the Batamas program; (2) Increasing soil carbon stocks through the use of organic fertilizers as a result of using UPPO and managing organic matter; (3) Developing organic villages; (4) Mitigating CH4 emissions from the management of rice fields by regulating the water regime and rice varieties; (5) Improving feed quality; (6) Balancing fertilization; and (7) Managing the groundwater level of peatlands (Bappenas, 2021). 


The impact of global carbon emissions has become a concern of the world community and nations, including Indonesia. As an archipelagic country that has various natural resources and high diversity, Indonesia has the potential to affect carbon emissions and at the same time contribute to the mitigation and adaptation of low carbon emissions development.

To implement low carbon emissions development in agriculture, it is generally recommended to implement the following strategic policies:

  1. Enhancing awareness of agricultural stakeholders through involving central and local governments, optimizing the dissemination of Research and Development (R&D) results within the representative media, and conducting extension programs;
  2. Integrating low carbon emissions development both in national and regional development plans based-government driven commitment supported by integrated non-state actors i.e., non-government organizations (NGOs), donor agencies, philanthropists, and others; and
  3. Carrying out monitoring, evaluation, and reporting systems both at the national and local levels through improving strategic policies based-evidence and budget, and implementing dynamic models for developing low carbon emissions.


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