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Ilham Habibie, CEO of PT Ilthabi Rekatama, discusses low carbon growth in Indonesia


Low Carbon, High Growth in Indonesia

While his office in Jakarta’s Mega Kuningan district is an oasis of calm, complete with high ceilings and wooden floors, Ilham Habibie’s mind is racing. In the course of a one-hour visit, he spoke about democracy, Indonesia in 100 years, bringing the Internet to every Indonesian village, and his years studying in Germany.

But he certainly has even more time and energy to speak about low carbon growth, an area extremely important to him and his family-run group, PT Ilthabi Rekatama. The group’s business interests range from manufacturing industrial refrigeration and climatization units to coal mining and coal-bed methane production.

“My ambition to contribute to the Alliance of Low-carbon Business in Indonesia is more for the manufacturing part, because you can find greener solutions for your manufacturing businesses in terms of how you run those businesses, what kind of machinery you use,” Habibie says.

In his refrigeration operations, one particular solution was replacing R-22, an industrial refrigerant that is now being phased out globally because of its contribution to damaging the ozone layer.

“And we’re not only talking about the ozone layer, but what about adding too much carbon to the atmosphere?” Habibie says. “Using alternative fuels would already contribute to a greener solution. Other than that, of course, are industrial processes that consume less energy per se, so it’s not only [about] substituting.”

While he concedes that coal mining does not traditionally lend itself to low carbon growth, there are areas in which miners can be greener.

“Power would be one thing for green in mining,’ he says. “Instead of using diesel-powered generators, use biodiesel generators. That’s a step. It’s running it with a greener perspective.”

Habibie says Indonesia’s economic rise in the coming decades could be even more profound with a comprehensive strategy for green growth, hence his interest in being part of ALBI.

“I think many people want to lobby the government, but I think the effect of the lobbying should not only be attributed to the lobbying group itself, but it should be attributed to the government also,” he says. “I would like to see more financial incentives. Real incentives like tax holidays, or a different tax system for people who want to really embrace moving the industries toward [being] more environmental friendly. That’s definitely a macro-goal of the government, but I want to see it not only as a goal, but I want to see the rules and regulations and everything going in the same direction. That is what I think everybody is complaining about -- the slowness.”


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