A Climate Proceeding Against PT Holcim Filed by Pari Island Residents, Indonesia

Sep 22, 2022

Resistance against the looming threat of climate crisis begins to rise on Pari Island, Kepulauan  Seribu Regency, DKI Jakarta Province. Four residents of Pari island are calling for climate justice  and holding Holcim accountable to the Court in Switzerland. 

Jakarta, 20 September 2022 – Pari Island residents launched a legal proceeding against PT  Holcim, Swiss-based global building materials, for the company’s contribution to the impacts of  the climate crisis that threatens their island and livelihoods. With their application for conciliation  submitted in Switzerland, the four plaintiffs seek to hold Holcim accountable. Holcim is an  industrial enterprise of cement which is the main component for producing concrete. Concrete  production causes significant climate implications. 

The proportion of concrete produced globally has tripled since 1995. Cement manufacture, which  is used to make concrete, has produced a substantial amount of carbon dioxide emissions. The  sector, together with the coal, oil, and gas industries, is one of the major contributors to the  world’s annual CO2 emissions, which the UK Guardian refers to as “the most destructive element  on earth.” They are dubbed as the “Carbon Major” for this reason. 

According to a study conducted by the Climate Accountability Institute, 70% of the entire history  of industrial CO2 emissions can be traced back to the activities of the 108 world emitting  companies. Therefore, they bear a great responsibility for global warming and its consequences. 

Switzerland Holcim Group is on the list of “Carbon Major” with sales reaching nearly 27 billion  francs (2021). The company is the world’s largest producer of building materials. Holcim currently  operates 266 cement plants and grinding stations worldwide, and is a global market leader for  the cement industry. Research mandated by HEKS/EPER shows that between 1950 and 2021,  Holcim has produced more than 7 billion tons of cement and emitted more than 7billion tons of  CO2. By 2021, the company produced 200 million tons of cement. 

Unfortunately, the residents of Pari Island  must endure the consequences  caused by the emission produced by wealthy nations in the North. Climate change has caused the increase of high sea levels, storms, high waves or tidal waves, and extreme weather that results in flooding. The higher the global temperature, the more frequent and extreme floods will occur. This threatens the existence of small islands and areas with low-lying coasts. 

The rise of sea level depends on the future gas emissions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that  the continuous increase of greenhouse gas emissions could cause the sea level to rise by one  meter in 2100. More than four million people in Indonesia will experience annual flooding. Furthermore, this could be much worse, if there was a collapse of the Antarctic ice sheet.  

For Pari Island, this does not bode well. 11% of the island’s surface has already submerged into the sea. Even most of the island could be submerged by early 2050. This poses a serious threat  to the human rights for Pulau Pari residents. Their livelihoods will be destroyed, the beautiful  beaches will be lost, as well as the local tourism. Along with tourism, fisheries and biodiversity  will also be impacted. Additionally, because of the increasing sea levels, the water in residents’  wells has become contaminated with salt water. 

Pari Island Takes a Stand! 

Mustaghfirin(50 years old), the Chairman of Pari Island Care Forum (FP3), who is also a fisherman  complained about the unpredictable weather condition, “It’s different from six to seven years  ago where we still could forecast the weather. Before sailing to the sea, fishermen like us must  read the weather, so the current condition is taking a toll on us. It is not unusual that the good  weather changes in the middle of our sailing trip and forces us to return back to the island. I even  nearly drowned once because of a sudden high wave that shook my boat.” He complained. 

Furthermore, Bobby, as Mustaghfirin usually be called, is also worried about the threats and fears  of going to sea, especially for distances over 15 miles. “We are afraid that our lives will be  threatened by the sudden change of weather. We were born and will not leave Pari Island,” he  said while complaining about the decreasing catch. Some varieties of fish are hard to find, such  as red snapper, jenidin, masidung, pomfret, skipjack, and lamadang. This results in decreasing  income. 

Edi Mulyono (37 years), affirmed Bobby’s statement. “Sea water continues to rise, tidal floods  occur more often and get bigger. The tidal floods in 2019 and 2020 were even the biggest tidal  floods that had ever occurred in the island. As a result of this climate crisis, people must always  be vigilant, some wells can’t even be used because they are polluted by sea water. Residents in  the west area and in RT 1 also have to raise the foundation their houses every year.” Said Edi,  who is also a fisherman and manages a guesthouse for tourists.

The people of Pulau Pari are aware of the threat that awaits them. “Our island will sink, where  will we live?” Bobby, Arif, Edi and Asmania seek justice on behalf of the whole Pari Island. They  have decided to take legal action against the company that has contributed significantly to  climate change and also the suffering of more than a thousand other lives on Pari Island. 

This legal proceeding actually questions the extent of Holcim’s responsibility as a market leader  in the cement industry in the world that contributes significantly to climate change. The  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) recommends reducing overall emissions by  43 percent by 2030. Only in this way can the hope of achieving the target set out in the Paris  Climate Agreement, namely limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, be achieved. Instead of  participating in the effort, Holcim has set a relative reduction target in “net zero” 2021 by cutting  emissions per tonnage from the cement produced by Holcim. This makes no sense, if Holcim  increases its cement production, overall emissions will likely increase as well. Just look at 2021,  this company has produced 200 million tons of cement, which means an increase of 7% (seven  percent) in 2021. 

Holcim’s emission reduction plans actually fall far short of what is needed to achieve the goal of  limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. Therefore, this Swiss company, not only bears the  historical responsibility for the current climate crisis, but also bears a share of the responsibility  for global warming in the future and for the impacts that climate change will cause in the years  and decades to come. Including on Pari Island. 

Due to the real burden and impact faced by the people of Pari Island, through these four  representatives, demanded that Holcim take responsibility for the threat to the safety of the  people of Pari Island and compensate for material damage. Furthermore, in the legal proceeding,  residents also demand Holcim to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 43% (forty three  percent) in 2030 and 69% (sixty percent) in 2040. Holcim is also required to bear the costs of  climate change mitigation actions needed on Pari Island. This includes mangrove planting and/ or flood defense. 


TAKE ACTION: Support Edi, Arif, Asmania, and Bobby in their struggle for climate justice.
Click here to sign in their appeal.


For more information contact:
Puspa Dewy
Head of Environmental Legal Study Division of WALHI National
Email: puspadewy@walhi.or.id

Parid Ridwanuddin
Coastal and Sea Campaigner of WALHI National
Email: parid.ridwanuddin@walhi.or.id

Chairman of Pari Island Care Forum (FP3)
Phone: 085781619276