Public Pressure: Sustainability’s Best Friend

There is little doubt that public discourse plays a pivotal role in steering any type of transition period. The recent 2023 Southeast Asia Climate Outlook revealed that the largest proportion of Southeast Asian respondents (35.7%) think that their government is aware of climate threats but has not allocated sufficient resources to address them – this was 7.8% higher in Indonesia than the regional average vote1. 25% believe that the government is not giving enough attention to climate change, and 5.9% believe that their government does not consider climate change to be a threat. Over 51 % of regional respondents want fossil fuel subsidies to end, while 31.8 % are unsure and 17.1 % disagree1. Among the concerns expressed by respondents, the most prominent include the escalating costs of energy and living expenses (54.2%) and energy shortages (21.7%), while fewer are troubled by widening social inequality (8.8%) and job losses (6.0%). With a blend of fear and optimism surrounding the energy transition in Southeast Asia, policymakers in the region face the formidable task of planning and executing an equitable transition2.


The three presidential candidates in Indonesia’s 2024 elections have yet to prioritize climate change and the energy transition in their platforms. Rafaela Xaviera, a climate, and youth associate at Indonesian NGO Cerah, underscores that despite the government’s professed commitment to the climate agenda, none of Indonesia’s political parties has followed through by advocating for supportive policies or legislation to facilitate the country’s energy transition3. For the younger generation, as the survey results suggest, this could significantly impact how they vote. Michael Goodsite, a pro vice chancellor and professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Adelaide in Australia, stated that companies are prepared to pay a significant premium if users and consumers highlight climate as a genuine priority for them4. Experts concur that achieving more sustainable mining and refining practices requires customer pressure. As national energy transitions face complex socio-political challenges and multifaceted socio-technological processes, it is evident that public pressure is fundamental to advancing a sustainability agenda.  

[1] Seah, S. et al., Southeast Asia Climate Outlook: 2023 Survey Report (Singapore: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, 2023)

[2] Huda, Mirza., & Seah, Sharon., (2023), “Perceptions of Energy Transition in Southeast Asia: Between Hope and Fear”, Fulcrum, October 3. Retrieved:

[3] Aqil, A. Muh. Ibnu., (2023), “What climate change? Study finds political parties lack focus on climate issues”, The Jakarta Post, September 21. Retrieved:

[4] Milko, Victoria., & Alangkara, Dita., (2023), “Facing increasing pressure from customers, some miners are switching to renewable energy”, Associated Press, October 2. Retrieved:


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