Indonesian cities chart new strategies for reductions in transport emissions

While cities throughout Indonesia are following the national government’s lead in launching a range of sustainable transport initiatives to address the growing problem of vehicle emissions, many lack the capacity to effectively manage transportation-related air quality issues.

At present, on-road vehicles account for 70 percent of Jakarta’s emissions, and 60 percent of all urban emissions outside the capital. Traffic congestion in cities throughout the country is increasing air pollution and fueling an environmental and health crisis. With the number of vehicles projected to steadily rise in Jakarta and other key cities, it is vital that city authorities are able to effectively manage urban air quality, particularly emission reductions in the transport sector.

Because many cities lack the air quality management capacity to adequately implement sustainable transport systems and practices, Clean Air Asia and APEKSI, a national forum involving 98 cities in urban areas, held a focus group discussion on March 5 in Jakarta with support from Clean Air Asia’s Integrated Programme for Better Air Quality in Asia (IBAQ Programme) to assess the needs and capability of Palembang, Bogor and Tangerang cities to effectively manage air pollution.

The discussion – involving representatives from the three cities, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the Ministry of Transportation, Komite Penghapusan Bensin Bertimbel (the Committee for Leaded Gasoline Eradication), the Regional Planning and Development Agency (Bappeda), and municipal transportation and environmental agencies – was aimed at determining the cities’ air quality management status and their capacity to develop, implement and monitor Clean Air Action Plans (CAAPs), with a focus on transportation emissions.

It was found that while the three cities were actively promoting public and non-motorized transport, support was still needed for institutional capacity building and the setting of frameworks. Improvement was also needed in inter-agency coordination, both vertical (between national and city levels) and horizontal (among city departments).

In terms of vertical coordination, city officials highlighted the need for national agencies to first enact policies and clarify the frameworks to enable them to effectively conduct programs at the local level. Collaboration among city departments in implementing multi-sectoral plans was also deemed to be a challenge, particularly by Palembang city which already has a CAAP.

In addition to building the capacity of cities to develop, implement and monitor CAAPs, there was also a need to encourage a paradigm shift in transport management. At present, Indonesian cities are primarily focused on improving the efficiency of transport modes and vehicle technology, such as promoting cleaner fuel, and vehicle inspections and maintenance. However, the other two strategies in the Avoid-Shift-Improve framework – avoiding or reducing the need to travel and shifting the share to more environmentally sustainable forms of transport – also needed to be integrated into urban planning and development processes.