By Irfan Toni Herlambang

Known as a “Student City” with no fewer than 350,000 students, Yogya is also a melting pot with relics of Indonesia’s various cultures and traditions.

Yogyakarta’s Keraton, which is steeped in Islamic tradition, exists side by side with diverse relics of other cultures. Not far from the city lie the temples of Borobudur, the largest Buddhist monument in the world, and Prambanan, a Hindu temple complex which is a UNESCO heritage site. Perhaps it’s this which has made Yogya a city bursting with youthful spirit and diversity.

That diversity was also reflected in the #FossilFree Gathering, held on 25 July 2018. The #FossilFree Gathering formed the framework for Indonesia’s campaign activities in a number of cities, namely Yogya, Bandung, Surabaya, Malang and Jakarta.

Located in the Antologi Collaborative Space, around 60 young people came to learn and discuss how to create a better world and future. Among the issues discussed was how everyone has a role to play in creating a fossil free world, through a just and fair transition to 100% renewable energy sources.


Attended by various students groups and communities, the event brought together representatives from different campus societies. A number of community groups were in attendance, including the Taring Padi Cultural Organisation, Earth Hour Yogya, Yogya Garuk Sampah, Yogya Berkebun, Greenpeace Youth Yogya, Sakatoya Art Community, Muda Menginspirasi and Youth for Climate Change (YFCC) Yogya. Student representatives from several large campuses such as Gajahmada University, UPN Veteran Yogya, Islamic University of Indonesia Yogya, Yogya National University and Duta Wacana Christian University were also involved.

Started by the Young
“Many climate movements were started by students,” said Devin Maeztri, a campaigner with Indonesia, opening the event. “One of these is, which came about through young people’s concerns over climate change.”

The increasingly damaging effects of climate change which can be seen around us require a real commitment, and controlling the change is in everyone’s hands. “The Fossil Free Campaign is building a grassroots movement to face the dirty energy industry and make the transition to 100% renewable energy,” continued Devin. Anyone can make a start, anyone can be a leader in this campaign.

This information opened a discussion on how the #FossilFree campaign should proceed, as well as how to achieve a just and fair transition to 100% renewable energy.

“I’m from South Kalimantan, where many people make a living from coal mining,” said Rizka, from Aisyiyah University Indonesia. “If the coal mines have to close for the energy transition, what will become of the people who work there?” she asked.

That turned the discussion to the question of what is meant by energy transition. Will such a transition mean we put a distance between ourselves and those who work in dirty energy projects? Because there are still many in Indonesia who have no choice but to work there to earn a living.

It’s very important to consider fairness and equality in making a transition to renewable energy. “Fairness in the Fossil Free Campaign includes all sides,” answers Irfan Toni Herlambang, Digital Campaigner with Indonesia. “The process of moving towards 100% renewable energy has to balance workers who are affected, consider the slightest effects on nature and the environment, and respect the local culture and traditions,” he added.

A Shared Commitment
Although there were different opinions, the event led to a common understanding. We must start the campaign to make a world which is safe for coming generations. The challenge now is how to turn this shared understanding into a real commitment, and involve everyone at a local level.

“Let’s make our target a Fossil Free Yogya,” said Devin. “It can begin with the Sultan’s Keraton fitting solar panels in the cultural heritage sites, or Tugu railway station fitting solar panels for their sound system.” Maybe that’s unimaginable at the moment, but if we make a start together, Yogya can become a pioneer in the climate movement initiated by the young. It’s not impossible that this initiative on the part of the city’s youth will open people’s eyes and force local leaders to commit to a Fossil Free Yogya.

Most participants smiled and nodded their heads in agreement. We have to fight this campaign together, whoever and wherever we are. As the event ended, all the participants united and raised their voices to shout, “YOGYA, FOSSIL FREE!”