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:
Head of Environmental Legal Study Division of WALHI National
Coastal and Sea Campaigner of WALHI National
Chairman of Pari Island Care Forum (FP3)