In the News

September 16, 2021

Jakarta Court Finds Jokowi Negligent Over City’s Air Quality

AQLI Director Ken Lee talks about how the burning of fossil fuels is impacting Indonesia and it's capital city, Jakarta.
Nikkei Asia

An Indonesian court on Thursday found government figures including President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan to have neglected the air quality in the nation’s congested and polluted capital.

The air pollution in Jakarta, where PM2.5 levels are constantly higher than World Health Organization standards, is seen by experts as reducing life expectancy and hurting the nation’s economy.

The judges for the civil lawsuit at the Central Jakarta District Court ordered Widodo to “tighten the national air quality standard to protect the health of humans, the environment and the ecosystem — including the health of the sensitive population.”

They also said other defendants — including the environment minister, the health minister and the home affairs minister — committed “unlawful deeds” in regards to “worsening air quality that threatens the health of millions of residents and has contributed to premature deaths and various illnesses.”

Before giving their verdict, the judges said they considered arguments that the government has violated people’s rights to healthy living guaranteed by Indonesia’s constitution, as well as laws on human rights and environmental protection.

“In Indonesia, the primary cause [of PM2.5] is not meteorological conditions, or the weather, or the length of the dry season, it is the burning of fossil fuels,” Kenneth Lee, director of Air Quality Life Index at the University of Chicago, said in an online press conference in early September. “There’s currently about 10 power plants that are within a hundred-kilometer radius of Jakarta. And these plants are allowed to emit 3-7.5 times more pollution, particulate matter than Chinese coal-fired power plants.”

According to Lee, the current PM2.5 levels will reduce that the average life expectancy of Indonesians by 2.5 years compared to air pollution levels meeting WHO standards. He said the figure was five to six years lower in Jakarta on average.

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