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Decarbonization as a Holistic Solution for Air Pollution

Updated: Nov 23, 2023


decarbonization for air pollution

Air pollution is a serious problem in Indonesia, especially in Jakarta. Many photos on social media show the smog that covers the capital city. The concentration level of PM2.5, one of the harmful pollutants, in Jakarta reaches four to five times higher than the standard of WHO Air Quality Guidelines. Jakarta became the city with the worst global air pollution several times, including in 2023.

Air pollution is harmful to the environment and dangerous to human health, especially respiratory diseases such as ARI. In the period of January to June 2023, the cases of ARI in DKI Jakarta reached hundreds of thousands, with a peak in March of as many as 119.734 cases.

According to Health Minister Budi Gunadi, the cases of ARI before the COVID-19 pandemic ranged around 50.000, but now they have soared to almost 200.000. Health Minister Budi Gunadi also mentioned that air pollution is one factor that influences the number of ARI cases.


Table of Contents:


A. How to Overcome Air Pollution

1. Government Actions to Reduce Air Pollution

The government has taken some actions to reduce air pollution, especially in Jakarta, since the air pollution in Jakarta went viral again, thanks to social media. Some actions include encouraging people to use public transportation or switch to environmentally friendly vehicles, implementing WFH system for civil servants, creating artificial rain, spraying water on the streets, spraying water from high-rise buildings, and stopping four companies that cause air pollution. From these steps, it can be seen that the handling of air pollution and climate change is done separately. However, restoring the natural balance is necessary to reduce air pollution holistically, not a temporary solution.


2. What is the Relationship between Air Pollution and Climate Change?

Air pollution and climate change are two interrelated environmental problems. The relationship between them can be seen from two aspects: the substances causing them and the impacts of climate change on air pollution.

  • The Causes of Air Pollution and Climate Change

The cause of air pollution and climate change

Air pollution is caused by pollutants that are harmful to health and the environment, such as PM2.5, sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), ground-level ozone (O3), PM10, methane (CH4), black carbon, and lead (Pb). These pollutants come from various sources, such as industry, transportation, building energy, waste disposal, and burning.

Climate change is caused by greenhouse gases (GHG) that trap the sun’s heat in the atmosphere and increase the earth’s temperature. Greenhouse gases consist of various substances, such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), nitrogen trifluoride (NF3), black carbon, and ground-level ozone (O3). Greenhouse gases also come from the same sources as the pollutants.

The explanation above shows that some substances cause both air pollution and climate change, namely methane (CH4), black carbon, and ground-level ozone (O3). Therefore, reducing the emissions of these substances can be a solution to address both environmental problems at once.

  • The Impacts of Climate Change on Air Pollution

Climate change is not only caused by some substances that are the same as air pollution but also worsens air pollution. Climate change affects weather patterns, temperature, and humidity. These things affect the concentration and distribution of pollutants in the air. High temperatures and prolonged drought cause dryness and easy occurrence of forest fires. This increases PM2.5 and PM10 pollutants. In addition, ground-level ozone (O3) increases even though the emissions produced are the same. Prolonged heat also causes the easy formation of smog. Allergens that cause allergies and asthma also increase because plants produce more pollen at warm temperatures.


CSR program for air pollution and climate change

B. Decarbonization through FOLU Sector as a Solution for Air Pollution

To solve the problem of air pollution holistically, the government needs to find a solution that can also address the problem of climate change. This is because air pollution and climate change are interrelated and affect each other. The solution that can solve both problems is decarbonization.

Decarbonization is the process of reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from various sectors, such as industry, transportation, energy, and agriculture. Decarbonization can be done in two ways: reducing emission production and absorbing emissions that already exist in the atmosphere. According to Andrea Meza, Deputy Executive Secretary of UNCCD, decarbonization aims to restore the natural balance and curb climate change.

The first way to decarbonize is by reducing carbon emission production from various sources. This can reduce the concentration of PM2.5 and prevent premature deaths up to 230 - 1040 annually until 2050. Some steps that can be done are:

  • Encouraging the development and utilization of renewable energy, such as solar, wind, water, and biomass.

  • Increasing efficiency and reducing waste in all sectors, such as industry, transportation, and building.

  • Replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy sources in the transportation and industry sectors.

The second way to decarbonize is by absorbing carbon emissions already in the atmosphere. This can be done by utilizing the FOLU (Forest and Other Land Uses) sector. The FOLU sector is a sector that includes forests and other vegetation that can store carbon. The FOLU sector is divided into two types: blue carbon and green carbon. Blue carbon is carbon that is stored in marine and coastal ecosystems, such as mangroves, seagrasses, and coral reefs. Green carbon is carbon that is stored in terrestrial forests.

Indonesia is a country that is rich in blue and green carbon. Indonesia has the third-largest tropical forest in the world and the largest potential mangrove forest in the world. Research shows that these forests can absorb carbon emissions and air pollutants that are trapped in the atmosphere. Based on research on mangrove forests in Muara Angke, mangrove forests can absorb carbon emissions and air pollutants that are trapped in the atmosphere. In addition, maintaining forests can also regulate microclimate and preserve nature and ecotourism.

Currently, the Indonesian government has increased decarbonization through the FOLU sector. One of its efforts is creating FOLU Net Sink 2023, a planning and target of decarbonization through FOLU. Some steps that are done in FOLU Net Sink 2023 are:

  • Conducting reforestation or replanting forests that have been damaged or lost

  • Improving rehabilitation and reducing deforestation

  • Planting mangroves on the coast

  • Protecting peatland and wetland ecosystems


Plant mangrove to solve air pollution

C. Decarbonization Efforts by CarbonEthics

CarbonEthics is currently focusing on decarbonization through FOLU, especially blue carbon, as an impact enterprise. Blue carbon is stored in marine and coastal ecosystems, such as mangroves, seagrasses, and coral reefs. CarbonEthics has initiated some activities to reduce emissions and air pollution through blue carbon, such as:

  • Blue carbon rehabilitation

CarbonEthics rehabilitates mangroves, seagrasses, and coral reefs in the coastal areas of Indonesia by collaborating with partners from various institutions, organizations, and governments. Blue carbon rehabilitation can increase the ability of marine and coastal ecosystems to absorb carbon emissions and air pollutants, as well as preserve biodiversity and ecotourism.

  • Blue carbon conservation with local communities

CarbonEthics empowers local communities in every location of blue carbon rehabilitation. Local communities are involved in planting mangroves and are given training on climate issues and skills to improve their welfare. Blue carbon conservation with local communities can increase awareness and responsibility for the environment, as well as create jobs and income for local communities.

  • Planting mangroves with Transjakarta

CarbonEthics partners with Transjakarta to invite Jakarta residents to plant mangroves. Local communities in Pulau Harapan will plant and take care of the mangroves.


Institutions and individuals can participate in reducing air pollution and climate change through decarbonization for a long-term result. Saving the earth can start with small things like planting one mangrove. CarbonEthics invites various parties to collaborate in decarbonization efforts by conserving blue carbon. Start decarbonization efforts now with CarbonEthics.



References:

Kebijakan Pemerintah Kendalikan Polusi Udara Kontraproduktif, Retrieved September 20, from https://www.kompas.id/baca/metro/2023/08/13/publik-anggap-upaya-pemerintah-menangani-masalah-polusi-udara-belum-menyeluruh


Jakarta snags ‘most polluted’ title as air quality plunges and officials dither, Retrieved October 5, from https://news.mongabay.com/2023/08/jakarta-snags-most-polluted-title-as-air-quality-plunges-and-officials-dither/


Ribuan Tewas Akibat Polusi, Kualitas Udara Bikin Khawatir, Retrieved October 5, from https://www.cnbcindonesia.com/research/20230826181347-128-466374/ribuan-tewas-akibat-polusi-kualitas-udara-bikin-khawatir


Uji emisi sampai semprot jalan - Upaya pemerintah berhasil turunkan tingkat polusi udara Jakarta?, Retrieved September 17, from https://www.bbc.com/indonesia/indonesia-66687436


Cut air pollution to fight climate change - UN, Retrieved September 11, from https://www.bbc.com/indonesia/indonesia-66687436


Win-Win: Why cities should tackle climate change and air pollution together, Retrieved September 26, from https://www.c40knowledgehub.org/s/article/Win-Win-Why-cities-should-tackle-climate-change-and-air-pollution-together?language=en_US



Fay, Marianne; Hallegatte, Stephane; Vogt-Schilb, Adrien; Rozenberg, Julie; Narloch, Ulf; Kerr, Tom. 2015. Decarbonizing Development: Three Steps to a Zero-Carbon Future. Climate


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