Internship Report by Petter Tolnes Ingebrigtsen, student at Master of Science in Globalisation and Sustainable Development, Norwegian University of Science and Technology | Student internship at Resource Governance in Asia Pacific, Research Centre for Politics and Government, Universitas Gadjah Mada, August-November 2019
This report aims to understand whether Indonesia’s biofuel programme manifests a viable trajectory to a ‘sound’ sustainability transition. While the research question encourages a somewhat yes-or-no answer, this piece of study will argue why such a clear-cut answer is difficult due to absence of an unanimous understanding of sustainability. However, this report concludes that ill practices of biodiesel production are overshadowing the benefits of consuming palm oil-based biofuel, challenging the soundness of the proposed sustainability transition. By placing Indonesia’s biofuel mandate in the context of a sustainability transition, the report is of significant contribution since Indonesia, as the world’s leading producer of palm oil, is experiencing increasing demand from its growing transport sector, at a time in which its domestic production of petroleum declines. Slashing oil imports is largely viewed as one of the key rationales, legitimizing Indonesia’s biofuel programme, which currently enforces commercial distribution of 20 percent blended biodiesel (B20). However, in the world’s growing necessity of a secure, reliant and sustainable access to energy for the prosperity of humanity, the appropriateness of palm oil-based biodiesel as the solution to the world’s energy need has raised several concerns of its environmental impact.