Tuesday, 27 December 2016

The Arab Spring Explained

Image: NPR

In the 21st century, the Arab World are restless. Iraq War shook them to the core; it is shocking that a trade conflict can cause a full-blown war with some rather curious justifications such as Iraq’s possession of Weapon of Mass Destruction. Combined U.N. rapporteurs and U.S. inspectors found no evidence to that allegation (Borger, 2004). After the war, there is a sense of uneasiness during the relative peace of the middle east years after that.  The short period of peace happened in part because of the continued U.S. involvement in the Arab Gulf, especially with their allies such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Post-Saddam Iraq. On the other hand, it is problematic as far as it goes as a solution because not only that U.S. presence in Arab Gulf is not permanent; they will leave eventually. Their presence might also make the new Iraqi government more dependent. It is no wonder that right after the full withdrawal of U.S. armed forces from Iraq in 2011, the Arab Spring commenced. On the other hand, U.S. and its allies’ intervention also creates political and societal problems in the Middle East. The prolonged stay of the army helped to demonize their own presence as an aggressor or occupier. Tensions with the locals were rising on a daily basis. One recent poll suggested that 93% of young Iraqis perceive the U.S. as an enemy (Al-Sudani, 2016). This is further strengthened by the fact that the war itself took heavy casualties, especially on the Iraqi side. A study shows that at least 174,000 Iraqis were killed in the war (IBC, 2010). Consequently, to understand the Arab spring, we first need to examine how it happened and its impacts.
One of the key factor which incite the Arab Spring is economic troubles. The more thorough integration of the Arab market into the global market structure allowed them to abandon their key welfare policies in favour of an IMF-styled cuts and reforms. Furthermore, the liberalisation also paved way for the despotic governments to transfer said welfare responsibilities to the private sector, establishing a corrupt patronage politics. This resulted in a trickle down system of capital accumulation that works only for the few elites. Thus, when global recession happened in the late 2000s, it hit the Arab world quite hard: causing soaring prices, among others. Unemployment also makes matter worse, with the number reaching 23% in the region (Heydarian, 2013). All those reasons triggered the self-burning act of a vegetable vendor in Tunisia as a symbol of discontent toward those ruling bureaucratic oligarchs. Shortly after, a widespread social unrest followed suit and shook the Arab world.
Accordingly, the social unrest that has been building up materializes in the form of mass protests against the government. The self-burning act inspired many in the region to take to the streets – marking the start of Arab Spring. This is caused in part by the already common use of social media. Twitter, a microblogging social media platform, is the most popular choice of the protesters to interact with each other to coordinate and spread news quickly. Experts even coined the term “Twitter Revolution” (Alhindi et al, 2012). The protests in most countries during the Arab Spring have a universal appeal. Instead of sectoral issues, the protesters were addressing broader problems such as corruption and state repression. This makes them more focused and unified towards achieving their goals.  These massive, highly organized uprisings finally got the whole world’s attention and forced global powers to intervene.
Afterwards, the largely peaceful protest against Ghaddafi in Libya started to take a turn for the worse. Violent clash between protesters and the government sparked a full-blown civil war. Urged by the hawkish element of their leadership, multi-states armed forces led by NATO started to bomb Libya. One report suggested that at least 112 tomahawk missiles were fired during the first day of NATO intervention (Dwyer et al, 2011). On 20 October 2011, the rebels caught and killed Ghaddafi when he was en route to Sirte. Although there was a hope of peace after that, a civil war broke out between the various opposing forces. Until today, the civil war remains unresolved. Similar situation happens in Syria. What was a huge peaceful protest in several parts of the country turns into a bloody civil war that still rages on. Massive foreign supports helped the opposition to form armed forces. The overwhelming rebels began to gain its momentum and almost toppled down the regime, if not for their divisiveness. Various donors in Syria have their own agendas – hence the divisive nature of the opposition. Foreign intervention in Syria did helped to empower the protesters. But at the same time, they also separated the rebels based on their donors' cause. For example, Islamist factions within the Free Syrian Army – once a broad grouping of rebel forces – sponsored by Saudi and Qatar established their own government in Syria called Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (Mahmood et al, 2013). We can see that in Libya and Syria, the fall or weakening of the old regimes does not bring much good; it instead ushers bloody conflicts.
Before the civil war in Syria, the U.S. and its allies – including all the Arab Gulf states – anticipated the collapse of several autocratic governments in the Middle East which are considered to be hostile to them. Even though the U.S. did not intervene directly at first, they funded and trained some supposedly “moderate and secular” elements within the opposition in Syria. This proves to be a colossal mistake: they are actually preparing the would-be members of Islamic States of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to take over the country (Mekhennet, 2014). Instead of creating friendlier establishment, they assisted the process of Islamist state-building in the Middle East, especially in Libya and Syria. To this day, both Libya and Syria are still in the middle of a bloody civil war; displacing and killing almost half the population (Nebehay, 2014).

To summarize, by examining the pretexts and impacts behind the Arab Spring, we can further understand and have a more complete outlook on the phenomenon. All those conflicts give rise to racism and to some extent, fascism in the Western World, through massive immigration caused by the instability. The Brexit affair and the U.S. election result which make Donald Trump president, among others, are the excesses of Arab Spring. The author stressed the need to solve the problems pertaining Middle East conflicts because the longer they go on, the bigger they persist to cause more instability throughout the entire world.  In this perilous times, it is important to recognize the need to stand together united as human being.

Al-Sudani, T. (2016, April 15). 93 percent of young Iraqis perceive US as enemy – poll. Retrieved December 12, 2016, from https://www.rt.com/news/339672-iraqi-youth-usa-enemy-poll/
Borger, J. (2004, October 07). There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Retrieved December 09, 2016, from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/oct/07/usa.iraq1
Iraq Body Count. (2010, October 23). Iraq War Logs: What the numbers reveal. Retrieved December 12, 2016, from https://www.iraqbodycount.org/analysis/numbers/warlogs/
Dwyer, D., & Martinez, L. (2011, March 19). Tornados and Tomahawks begin Libya bombardment. Retrieved December 10, 2016, from http://abcnews.go.com/International/libya-international-military-coalition-launch-assault-gadhafi-forces/story?id=13174246
Alhindi, W. A., Talha, M., & Sulong, G. (2012, September). The Role of Modern Technology in Arab Spring. Archives des Sciences, 101–112. Retrieved December 10, 2016, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/234040341_The_Role_of_Modern_Technology_in_Arab_Spring.
Heydarian, R. J. (2013, April 21). The Economics of the Arab Spring - FPIF. Retrieved December 10, 2016, from http://fpif.org/the_economics_of_the_arab_spring/
Mahmood, M., & Black, I. (2013, May 08). Free Syrian Army rebels defect to Islamist group Jabhat al-Nusra. Retrieved December 10, 2016, from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/may/08/free-syrian-army-rebels-defect-islamist-group
Mekhennet, S. (2014, August 18). The terrorists fighting us now? We just finished training them. Retrieved December 10, 2016, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/08/18/the-terrorists-fighting-us-now-we-just-finished-training-them/?utm_term=.613882f92711

Nebehay, S. (2014, August 29). Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all Syrians displaced. Retrieved December 10, 2016, from http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-syria-crisis-refugees-idUKKBN0GT0AZ20140829

Thursday, 8 December 2016

The Case Against Fossil Fuels

Illustration by: Britannica.com

Today global warming phenomenon has rightly reached its important place in public discourse. Already Earth’s global temperature reached a record hot since the earliest records, which was 0.87 °C last year (Nasa, 2015). In response to this environmental concern, representatives from 195 countries around the world have gathered at the Paris climate conference (COP21) in December 2015 and signed a universal, legally binding agreements formulated to combat global warming. The agreement, among other important points, stressed the need to limit the average global warming level to 2 °C while also "pursue efforts" to limit climate increase to 1.5°C. In order to reach the agreed target, experts argued that we need to move from fossil fuels to the more environmentally friendly renewable energies by 2050 (Sutter, 2015). Fossil fuels are formed from the organic remains several million years ago. It is used as the main source of energy. To understand how renewable energies are better in many aspect, we need to compare it with fossil fuels.
Fossil fuels might cause more harm to the environment than renewable energies. A report by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that fossil fuels are one of the two main contributor of CO2 emission, with the other one being industrial process (IPCC, 2014). Furthermore, fossil fuels pollute the atmosphere more than renewable energies. Experts estimates that fossil fuels and industrial process that use them generated 69% of global GHG emissions (Blanco et al., 2014). Renewable energies, on the other hand, does not produce GHG emissions because they rely on replenished resources such as tidal or wind power. The process that fossil fuels have to undergo are riskier than renewable energies. Fossil fuels, in order to be produced into energy, needs to be extracted and transported. Such steps are actually very unsafe because they are rife with accident. For example, safety negligence of oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico caused the catastrophic 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The 4.9 million barrels of oil spill (Repanich, 2010) threatened 15,700 species of sea life (Biello, 2010). Unlike the dangerous process of fossil fuels, renewable energies do not possess any such risks.
Fossil fuels are actually more expensive to process compared to renewable energies. A study by International Monetary Fund shows that global use of fossil fuels costs taxpayers and consumers $5.3 trillion year (Wernick, 2015). The dubbed ‘true cost’ include externalities such as damage to public health and the environment and the potential investment in other public goods. On the other hand, renewable energies did not generate those externalities. Recent trend shows that despite the current low price of fossil fuels, the cost for renewable energies are plummeting. While oil prices fall sharply, the latest figure being 2% negative (Davies, 2016), a report by International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) shows that the cost for renewable energies are either competitive or cheaper than fossil fuels, with the figures stand at 75% for solar modules (IRENA, 2015).
Fossil fuels are less sustainable in the long run contrary to renewable energies. Prolonged use of fossil fuels might threaten Earth’s environment, unlike renewable energies. Fossil fuels combustion, which produces carbon dioxide, is the largest contributing factor to the release of greenhouse gases (National Geographic Society). If not mitigated, this might cause environmental anomalies such as the rising of sea level (NRC,2011). Renewable energies, meanwhile, are much more sustainable since they did not have much negative impact towards the environment. Fossil fuels take up to millions of years to form since they are made from remains of organism that died eons ago, while renewables are naturally replenished. It is practically non-renewable and will be depleted. In fact, latest figures suggest that with our current rate of consumption, fossil fuels reserves will be depleted in 2088 – with oil gone first in 2052 (CIA, 2014). Renewable energies, however, can be naturally replenished within human timescale.
By comparing fossil fuels and renewable energies, we can see that renewable energies are a viable alternative to face both the increasing demand for energy and the threat of climate change. The high expenses of fossil fuels usage – both economically and environmentally – might prove too high to be kept as it is. Climate change is not an inevitable event, but to prevent it, we need to act fast with a sense of urgency. To ensure the survival of human race, we must strive for the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies as soon as possible.

Biello, D. (2010, June 09). The BP Spill's Growing Toll On the Sea Life of the Gulf. Retrieved November 07, 2016, from http://e360.yale.edu/feature/the_bp_spills_growing_toll_on_the_sea_life_of_the_gulf/2284/
Blanco G., R. Gerlagh, S. Suh, J. Barrett, H. C. de Coninck, C. F. Diaz Morejon, R. Mathur, N. Nakicenovic, A. Ofosu Ahenkora, J. Pan, H. Pathak, J. Rice, R. Richels, S. J. Smith, D. I. Stern, F. L. Toth, and P. Zhou (2014). Drivers, Trends and Mitigation. In Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. Retrieved November 7, 2016, from https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg3/
CIA. (2014). The World Factbook: WORLD. Retrieved November 07, 2016, from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/xx.html
Davies, R. (2016, November 4). Oil price falls as Saudi Arabia and Iran argue over output. Retrieved November 07, 2016, from https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/nov/04/oil-price-falls-as-saudi-arabia-and-iran-argue-over-output
IPCC (2014). Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA. Retrieved November 7, 2016, from https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg3/
IRENA. (2015, January). RENEWABLE POWER GENERATION COSTS IN 2014, 27. Retrieved November 7, 2016, from http://www.irena.org/menu/index.aspx?mnu=Subcat&PriMenuID=36&CatID=141&SubcatID=494
NASA. (2015). Global Temperature. Retrieved November 07, 2016, from http://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/global-temperature/
National Geographic Society. (n.d.). Global Warming Causes, Climate Change Causes - National Geographic. Retrieved November 07, 2016, from http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/gw-causes/
NRC (2011). Climate Stabilization Targets: Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts over Decades to Millennia Exit. National Research Council. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, USA.
Repanich, Jeremy. "The Deepwater Horizon Spill by the Numbers." Popular Mechanics. N.p., 04 Aug. 2015. Web. 07 Nov. 2016.
Sutter, J. D., Berlinger, J., & Ellis, R. (2015, December 14). COP21: Obama praises Paris climate change agreement. Retrieved November 06, 2016, from http://www.cnn.com/2015/12/12/world/global-climate-change-conference-vote/index.html

Wernick, A. (2015, June 07). IMF: 'True cost' of fossil fuels is $5.3 trillion a year. Retrieved November 07, 2016, from http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-06-07/imf-true-cost-fossil-fuels-53-trillion-year

Friday, 25 November 2016

Fracking Explained


            Fracking has become the talk of the moment recently. The debates surrounding it also makes it even more controversial. It is easy to find bad stories related to fracking. According to a report by Al-Jazeera, Barnhart, a town in Texas ran out of water because of its excessive usage of the town’s water supply: 3 to 8 million gallons per frack compared to around 100,000 gallons per drill using conventional wells (Gordon, 2015). The upheaval surroundings the fracking operation in the sacred land of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has also been an important issue in this year’s U.S. election cycle. Jill Stein, a candidate from the Green Party, visited the protest site in a highlighted manner, pointing out to the lack of presence of president Obama by joining the protesters chanting “Where’s Obama?” (Wright, Watkins, 2016). The Guardian reported that some kids were given a gagging order for lifetime imposed under a settlement reached by their parents with a leading oil and gas company (Goldenberg, 2013). In terms of economic, experts argued against each other. Economists claimed that fracking might lessen the cost of oil production which will then help to ease the dependence on foreign energy source. There are also the risks that the non-production expense – cost outside direct production – such as potential environmental costs and political lobbying efforts might prove to be high enough for the industry. It is easy to get lost between those differing views. In order to fullygrasp fracking, we need to understand how it is operated and its impacts.
            Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a method used by energy companies to extract gas and oil from shale rock. The first important things to do is to locate shale rocks which contain gas and oil. Next, companies will need to get a permit by settling the terms with the government. After the terms settled, companies will build on-site fracking wells. Fracking moves the resources from the pores of the rocks to production wells. It is done by injecting large volumes of chemical mix, mostly a substance called Brine – Sodium Cloride – down into the shale at high pressure. In order to do that, a huge amount of water needs to be transported to the site. For example, the wells extracting oil from the Haynesville Shale is estimated to use 5.7 million gallons (Nicot, Scanlon, 2012). The pressurized shale will then release the oil or gas trapped below so that it will be lifted by the well above. Lastly, the extracted resources will be transported to a refinery to be processed into use-ready energy sources and then shipped to consumers.
            Fracking could be the answer to the exorbitant trend in the rise of energy prices. For example, a study by The American Petroleum Institute shows that fracking could help reduce U.S.’s dependence on foreign oil by producing 600 trillion cubic feet – nearly 17 trillion cubic meters – of natural gas (American Petroleum Institute, 2014). By increasing production capacity, the revenue percentage of energy consumption might be allocated more towards domestic industry. Fracking could also help the economy by providing jobs. It is estimated by a conservative think tank National Bureau of Economic Research that the fracking industry could help create 640,000 jobs nationwide (Feyrer, Mansur, & Sacerdote, 2015).
            Despite such potential surplus to the economy, there are also big risks or even loss that go along with fracking. The recent plunging of oil prices might hurt the fracking industry. With oil prices standing below the breakeven point – $50 to $80 per barrel according to Fadel Gheit, a senior oil and gas analyst at Oppenheimer & Co (DiCristopher, 2016) –  at around $40 per barrel as of September 2016 (Kelly, 2016), it might prove a challenge for energy companies to expand. The area surrounding a fracking wells could also be affected negatively. A study in 2010 concluded that houses valued at more than $250,000 and within 1,000 feet of a well site saw their values decrease by 3 to 14 percent (Integra Realty Resources, 2010).
Aside from economical aspects, the case against fracking are also compelling because the use of fracking is extremely rife with environmental and safety concerns. Fracking use a lot of water compared to conventional drilling methods. It is estimated that around 3 to 8 million gallons are needed to perform one frack (ALL Consulting, 2009). Such excessive use of water might dry the surrounding region’s water supply, as shown earlier in the case of Barnhart, Texas. Fracking is also accused of causing earthquakes. The man-made phenomena are called ‘Induced Earthquakes’. The waste water from the injection process is thought to be the cause of minor induced earthquakes. A study by Southern Methodist University found that in Texas, there has been an increasing trend of earthquakes – around 2-12 events per year since 2008 -  that concentrated within a fracking wastewater disposal area (Frohlich, C. et al., 2016).
By studying how fracking works and analysing its effects, we can conclude that the true cost of fracking outweighs the reward it may bring. The high expense and unpopular opinion of fracking might prove to be too heavy for both private investor and government. Fracking in order to be a viable energy source needs to minimize risks, eliminate environmental expenses, and update its safety regulations. If those measures are not taken fast enough, fracking might be replaced by the growing renewable energy industries in the near future.

ALL Consulting. (2009, April). Modern Shale Gas Development in the United States: A Primer. (pp. 80-81). Retrieved September 25, 2016, from http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2013/03/f0/ShaleGasPrimer_Online_4-2009.pdf
American Petroleum Institute. (2014, July). Fracturing: Unlocking America’s Natural Gas Resources. (p. 2). Retrieved September 24, 2016, from http://www.api.org/~/media/files/policy/exploration/hydraulic_fracturing_primer.ashx
DiChristopher, T. (2016, January 11). Half of US shale drillers may go bankrupt: Analyst. Retrieved September 27, 2016, from http://www.cnbc.com/2016/01/11/half-of-us-shale-drillers-may-go-bankrupt-oppenheimers-gheit.html
Feyrer, J., Mansur, E., & Sacerdote, B. (2015, October). Geographic Dispersion of Economic Shocks: Evidence from the Fracking Revolution. (p. 4). Retrieved September 24, 2016, from http://www.nber.org/papers/w21624
Frohlich, C., Deshon, H., Stump, B., Hayward, C., Hornbach, M., & Walter, J. I. (2016, July/August). A Historical Review of Induced Earthquakes in Texas. Seismological Research Letters. (p. 2). Retrieved from http://www.smu.edu/~/media/Site/News/NewsSources/EarthquakeStudy/earthquake-study-17may2016.ashx?la=en
Goldenberg, S. (2013, August 05). Children given lifelong ban on talking about fracking. Retrieved September 27, 2016, from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/aug/05/children-ban-talking-about-fracking
Gordon, C. (2013, October 15). What happens when the wells run dry in West Texas? Retrieved September 27, 2016, from http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/america-tonight/america-tonight-blog/2013/10/15/west-texas-what-happenswhenthewellsrundry.html
Integra Realty Resources. (2010, August). Flower Mound Drill Site Study. (p. 9). Retrieved September 26, 2016, from http://www.flower-mound.com/DocumentCenter/View/1456
Kelly, E. (2016, September 23). Market Update: Oil Crumbles After Saudis Pull the Plug. Retrieved September 27, 2016, from http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Market-Update-Oil-Crumbles-After-Saudis-Pull-The-Plug.html
Nicot, J., & Scanlon, B. R. (2012, March 1). Environmental Science & Technology: Water Use for Shale-Gas Production in Texas, US, 3. Retrieved September 27, 2016, from http://www.beg.utexas.edu/staffinfo/Scanlon_pdf/Nicot Scanlon_ES&T_12_SI.pdf

Wright, D., & Watkins, E. (2016, September 7). Stein charged with mischief, trespassing after environmental protest. Retrieved September 27, 2016, from http://edition.cnn.com/2016/09/07/politics/jill-stein-pipeline-protest-trespassing-charges/

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Rembang Melawan, Rembang Menang

Foto: CNN Indonesia
Kawan-kawan yang baik, ada berita menggembirakan datang dari saudari dan saudara kita di Rembang dan Pati. PK (Peninjauan Kembali) yang diajukan oleh masyarakat Rembang dan Pati mengenai izin lingkungan pembangunan pabrik semen PT Semen Indonesia dikabulkan oleh Mahkamah Agung. Pengabulan PK tersebut praktis mencabut izin lingkungan sehingga segala aktivitas pertambangan karst harus dihentikan. Ini merupakan kedua kalinya PT Semen Indonesia dikalahkan di meja hijau, setelah sebelumnya ia digugat oleh warga Samin pada tahun 2009 - yang kemudian memaksanya untuk memindahkan lokasi pembangunan ke kecamatan Gunem, Rembang.
Kemenangan ini tentunya tidak bisa dilepaskan dari perlawanan-perlawanan diluar persidangan, seperti aksi massa dan propaganda secara masif lewat berbagai bentuk dan media. Berbagai kiat dilakukan oleh warga Rembang sendiri, seperti mengorganisir aksi-aksi di Rembang, giat mengisi kuliah di kampus-kampus, mendirikan tenda perjuangan, hingga mengecor kakinya di depan istana untuk memaksa presiden bertemu mereka. Hasilnya: pembuatan Kajian Lingkungan Hidup Strategis atau KLHS (pertama di Indonesia jika terealisasi) atas rencana pembangunan di Rembang. Hal itu menjadi inspirasi bahwa tidak ada perjuangan yang sia-sia.
Pelaksanaan putusan tersebut harus kita kawal dengan sangat ketat. Tentu masih segar dalam benak kita semua bagaimana penggusuran Bukit Duri tetap berjalan kendati proses gugatan di pengadilan belum selesai, atau hal serupa yang terjadi pada kasus eksploitasi bijih besi di Bangka oleh PT PPM. Sebuah putusan MA tak ada gunanya jika legalitas hanya digunakan sebagai alat represi bagi mereka yang kuat. Maka dari itu, pengabulan PK masyarakat Rembang dan Pati oleh MA harus menjadi katalis bagi kita agar lebih bersemangat dalam melestarikan bumi yang kita tempati bersama ini, sebab perjuangan belum selesai disini.



Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Paid Plastic Policy Is Ineffective To Combat Plastic Consumption

Since 21 February 2016, coincidentally with National Trash Day (Hari Sampah Nasional), the government implemented a new policy. Through the Surat Edaran or SE (Form Letter) SE-06 / PSLB3-PS / 2015 about Paid Plastic Policy as an Anticipation Measure on Modern Retails from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK), the government officially implemented Paid Plastic Policy throughout Indonesia’s modern markets. The SE was actually signed on 17th December 2015 although only enacted in 2016. With this policy, the government decided to oblige consumers who shop in the modern retail market to pay at least Rp 200, - to get a plastic bag. This policy is applied to reduce the number of plastic consumption in Indonesia. According to a research by sciencemag, Indonesia is one country with the largest number of plastic consumption, which reached as much as 187.2 million tonnes, putting them in the 2nd position globally, after China which reached 262.9 million tons[1]. Of course this is also due to the high population figures, which numbered 255,461,700 based on a data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), dated July 1, 2015[2]. There is a correlation between these two things. Large population accompanied by a big consumptive behavior yet low environmental awareness are a strong factor that influenced plastic usage. Although the government implemented Paid Plastic Policy as a measure to reduce the consumption of plastics, it does not actually help much. Instead, it could also create some drawbacks. There are three main reasons why the Paid Plastic Policy is ineffective.
First, Paid Plastic Policy puts emphasis on the costumer, which is a wrong target. The use of plastic at the level of producer and distributor is actually higher than at the costumer’s. It is noted that plastic consumption of domestic industry reaches 3.6 million tonnes annually, and it goes up to 4.3 million tonnes with imported plastic included. In addition, Paid Plastic Policy violates Indonesian Government Regulation (PP) Number 47 of 2012 Concerning Environmental and Social Responsibility of Companies which asserts that social and environmental responsibilities are to be held by producers, not consumers.
Second, Regulation on the policy itself is still unclear. Until today (19/5), there are no rules to regulate the circulation of money made from the sales of plastic bag. According to Deputy Assistant of Waste Management Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Sudirman, since the SE issuance until May, there is no regulation that regulates the flow of funds from the sale of paid plastic bags[3]. On top of that, some local governments have also made some contradictory rules. For examples the mayor of Balikpapan issued his own SE. In his SE (Number: 005/0123/BLH concerning Reducing Plastic Bag Usage and Paid Plastic Bag in Balikpapan) it is mentioned that the government allows retailers to raise the price of paid plastic bags to Rp 1.500. This is a deviation from the SE from the ministry of environment and forestry which is the reference of the SE from the Mayor of Balikpapan itself. The mayor’s SE could also result in plastic bags being commodified, which is in contradiction with the purpose of the policy: combating plastic consumption.
Lastly, Paid Plastic Policy is an overstep because Indonesia still does not have an effective recycle system. Data from the ministry of environment and forestry shows that there is only 5% of waste got recycled[4], which is a very small amount. There are actually several attempts by the government to build a waste-based power plant. The first plan was made in 2012 by a subsidiary of PT Pertamina, but the plan was not even started until now. Earlier this year there was an ambitious plan by PT PLN to build waste-based power plants in seven cities, but there was no progress at all.
All of those reasons proves that Paid Plastic Policy is ineffective in the fight against plastic usage. Not only that, the policy is also unconstitutional because it goes against the law to burden its own constituents. Rather than putting a price on plastic bags, the government should instead go after big players and greatly optimize their waste management first before targeting consumers. It is their responsibility as our representative on a state level to deal with big corporations that use plastic in a very huge amount annually.

[1] http://science.sciencemag.org/content/347/6223/768 (Accessed on May 8, 2016, at 12.46 WIB).
[2] http://www.bps.go.id/linkTabelStatis/view/id/1274 (Accessed on May 8, 2016, at 13.28 WIB).
[3] Based on excerpts taken from the record of a public discussion in Universitas Indonesia held by BEM UI.