Dr. Tasman, rector of the University of Jambi, faculty members, and students, thank you for the warm welcome. Selamat siang bapak-bapak dan ibu-ibu! It’s good to see some friends from the press here today too. I am really delighted to be here at Jambi University.
I presented my credentials to President Yudhoyono earlier this year, but this is not my first time to Indonesia. I visited your beautiful country years ago as a young man, spending several weeks backpacking through Indonesia. Now I have returned as President Obama’s envoy to your country. Indonesia has grown and developed in many ways since I first visited here, but the charm, natural beauty, and welcoming spirit of the people remain as they always have been.
This is my fourth visit to Sumatra, but my first visit to Jambi. Since yesterday, I have met with local and regional leaders and a range of exchange and education alumni who have been to the United States. I also met local leaders and a factory owner who are eager to implement a palm oil waste treatment program in order to generate electricity. Jambi has big potential for using palm oil mill waste as a renewable energy source. With strong commitment from the government of Jambi, this can be a model for use throughout Indonesia to address the country’s growing energy needs. And after long preparation, the Millennium Challenge Corporation and Millennium Challenge Account-Indonesia (MCC and MCA-Indonesia) are ready to support this initiative.
So, I have had the chance to see some of the good work that local leaders and civil society organizations are doing. I have chosen to visit Jambi University as my last stop before I return to Jakarta. Young students like you are the future of Indonesia, and it is a privilege and honor for me
to be here today to talk about the relationship between our two countries.
As you know, the United States and Indonesia have had a Comprehensive Partnership since 2010 when Presidents Obama and Yudhoyono met and decided to take our bilateral relationship to the next level. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and your Foreign Minister meet regularly, most recently in February, to take stock of progress made and identify ways we can develop an even closer relationship between the world’s second- and third-largest democracies. During the year, we work together in six working groups that focus on key issues including Democracy, Education, Trade and Investment, Energy, and Security. We also have a working group on the Environment that addresses several issues including climate change.
Jambi province is an important area for U.S. engagement. In this region, both the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and MCC/MCA-I work
on many projects related to democratic governance and global development issues. We have a range of programs on strengthening governance of the forest sector, health (including nutrition, tropical diseases, and polio), and on forest conservation.
Environment is a particular focus area in Jambi and one to which I am personally very committed. Indonesia’s biodiversity is an area of great richness for which Indonesia should be justifiably proud. Your natural treasures should be preserved and enjoyed for subsequent generations. During his visit to Jakarta in February, Secretary Kerry spoke about the perils of climate change that represent both a challenge and an opportunity for the global community. In his remarks, Secretary Kerry noted that Indonesia is one of the countries that is most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
Today, 97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is happening and that human activity is responsible. These scientists agree on the causes of these changes and they agree on the potential effects. They agree that the emission of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide contributes heavily to climate change.
* They agree that fossil fuel energy sources, such as coal, oil, and gas, that we’ve relied on for decades to fuel our cars, power our industries, and generate electricity are largely responsible for sending those greenhouse gases up into the atmosphere.
* And the scientists agree that deforestation and land use changes also send enormous quantities of carbon pollution into our atmosphere. I agree with these findings and count myself among the 97 percent. Do you? If you do agree, what are you doing about it? Have you considered the effects of climate change on Indonesia?
The U.S. is a global leader in reducing carbon emissions. President Obama announced on Monday our first ever proposed limit on carbon emissions that, if implemented would reduce power sector emissions by as much as 30% by 2030. We have also doubled the amount of energy we are generating from wind and solar and become smarter about the way we use energy in our homes and businesses.
President SBY set ambitious targets to reduce Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions by 26% by 2020. It is important these targets be implemented.
As global warming takes its course in Indonesia, surface temperatures are expected to increase from 0.2 to 0.3 of a degree Celsius per decade. This leads to increases in sea levels at the rate of 3-5 millimeters per year that threaten Sumatra’s and other coastal communities. Higher temperatures inland increase the risk of forest fires that threaten people’s homes and Sumatra’s iconic species. We’ve seen neighboring countries lose their native rhinos
and we don’t want to see the extinction of the Sumatran and Javan rhinos. Impacts on human health are also inevitable.
One of the ways the U.S. is helping Indonesia meet its greenhouse gas emissions targets is through our Millennium Challenge Corporation which launched the $332 million Green Prosperity program to help address deforestation and support innovative and clean energy throughout Indonesia. MCA-I has undertaken a detailed analysis of both Renewable Energy and Natural Resource Management opportunities in Jambi Province. MCA-I officials are working closely with the Governor and initially with four Bupati in the Province, which includes Berbak and Kerinci, to deliver these benefits.
Besides working on climate change, the United States has invested $16 million to combat wildlife trafficking through the ASEAN-Wildlife Enforcement Network and Asia’s Regional Response to Endangered Species Trafficking
(ARREST) programs. The U.S. and Indonesia recently signed a bilateral agreement to Conserve Wildlife and Combat Wildlife Trafficking.
Indonesia’s rich biodiversity includes many endangered species, including the Sumatran Tiger. Informed estimates state that there are only about 3,500 tigers left in the wild, worldwide, and as an estimate 190 of those are in the Kerinci Seblat National Park. The Tropical Forest Conservation Act (TFCA) has a “debt-for-nature” swap in Sumatra and Kalimantan that helps to preserve the habitats of threatened species. The goal is to foster better management and protection of nearly 13,500 hectares of village forests and 230,000 hectares of buffer zone in Kerinci Seblat National Park here in Sumatra. This is an important project with direct benefits to this area, including better protection for the forest and the animals that call it home. Last year, TFCA Sumatera awarded a grant to a consortium of NGOs to work with conservation and protection of tiger populations and habitats in Berbak and Sembilang National Parks.
As Indonesia prepares to elect a new president next month, you can continue to count on the United States as a partner. We will further our engagement and efforts to build an even better future together.
Thank you for your time, and I look forward to answering some of your questions.