Environment Ministry to appeal air pollution verdict in Indonesia

JAKARTA (CNA) – Indonesia’s Environment Ministry said yesterday it would appeal a Jakarta court ruling that found President Joko Widodo, several ministries and top local officials guilty of environmental negligence over chronic air pollution.

Ruling on a citizen lawsuit on Thursday, judges found senior officials were culpable in failing to prevent, monitor and control unhealthy pollution levels in and around the capital.

Jakarta and its surrounds, a sprawling metropolis of over 30 million people, is Southeast Asia’s most polluted city, according to a 2020 report by air quality monitor IQAir.

The Environment Ministry’s director for air pollution management Dasrul Chaniago confirmed an appeal would be made against the decision.

He said the court ordered the ministry to monitor air quality and emissions, actions that he said had been undertaken since 2011 in Jakarta and other cities such as Banten
and Bandung.

A Spokesman for the president Fadjroel Rahman said his office would defer to the Environment Ministry on whether to appeal. The health and home affairs ministries did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Lawyers for the 32 plaintiffs argued that authorities had failed to protect citizens, pointing to scientific research that air pollution could cause asthma and heart disease and lower
life expectancy.

Rapid urbanisation and chronic congestion in Jakarta, plus nearby coal-fired power plants, have contributed to the poor air quality, according to the Centre on Energy and
Clean Air.

The verdict was welcomed by Jakarta authorities.

“We understand the lawsuit is part of citizens’ rights to a healthy environment and part of collaborative action to work together for better air quality,” Governor Anies Baswedan’s climate change adviser Irvan Pulungan said.

“We honour the verdict and will continue working on our efforts and working with the plaintiff and stakeholders.”