Indonesian young reformers use bicycles to inspire action on climate change

(Photo: Daniel Sinaga)Seminary students from Pematang Siantar with their bicycles - the project in 2017 mobilized 50 students in a country where bicycles are expensive and considered an unusual means of transportation.

A young Indonesian pastor has launched a "cycling for the climate" initiative, along with other youth in the Protestant Christian Batak Church (HKPB) as part of this year's commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Rev. Daniel Sinaga, cited the Lutheran World Federation watchword "Creation – not for sale" adopted at its assembly held once every seven years and held this year during May in Windhoek, Namibia.

This is a call for climate justice in Indonesia which like other forested countries has many tens of thousands of square kilometres of forestland threatened with culling for trade, which can heavily impact climate systems.

A "cycling for the climate" initiative, which he launched with other youth in the Protestant Christian Batak Church (HKPB) saw participation grow from five regular bicycle users to 50 in just one year, Lutheran World Federation reports.

Sinaga considers this "a very good and positive response about the project and the concern of climate change."

This is also because owning a bicycle is an expensive investment for those taking part, mainly college students of the HKBP theological seminary in Pemantang Siantar city, North Sumatra.

"We aimed for the young people, especially theological seminary students, to inspire them about climate change concerns by using bicycles," Sinaga said.

"We hope they will be role models for other young people," says the 30-year-old pastor.

The Lutheran World Federation launched the Global Young Reformers Network of which Sinaga is a member in 2014, with the goal to encourage more young people to contribute to the life of LWF churches.

It also meshes with commemorating 500 years of the Reformation in 2017.

Working with bicycle clubs, Sinaga organized bike trips around the city to get people thinking about climate change.

"Everyone joined the one-day campaign. At the end, there were 50 participants who came with their bikes for our campaign 'cycling for the climate'," he says of the main event, held near the seminary, which has around 600 students.

With a population of almost 260 million people, Indonesia is the world's fourth most populous country.

The United Nations says that over the last decade energy demand rose at almost five percent annually.

Globally, such statistics have motivated youth to get involved in climate justice. Many look to cycling, rather than means of travel that burn fossil fuels, as a green mode of transportation.

Copyright © 2017 Ecumenical News