Editorial Board (The Jakarta Post)
Sat, September 18, 2021
Let’s be clear. The recent court ruling that found the governments of Central and Greater Jakarta guilty of not doing enough to protect people from potentially deadly air pollution is not an embarrassing defeat that deserves an appeal to higher court.
That the Jakarta Central District Court ruled in favor of 32 residents of Greater Jakarta grouped under the Capital City Coalition simply shows the undeniable fact that nearly 30 million people living in Jakarta and its satellites have a right to clean air and healthy. According to guidelines from the World Health Organization, the polluted air they breathe every day could reduce their life expectancy by 5 to 5.5 years.
Studies have shown the danger that polluting particles represent for our health. Ultimately, illnesses and deaths from these toxins run counter to the government’s pursuit of the quality human resources that the country needs to achieve high-income status.
True, the complainants filed their complaint two years ago in good faith, with no intention of discrediting the government. The petitioners actually acted – and took risks – on behalf of the silent majority who shared the same cause but lacked the courage, time and energy to fight for their fundamental right.
If necessary, the court ruling could prompt citizens elsewhere in the country to voice their grievances to the government about environmental degradation resulting from policies that harm nature or simply the ignorance of governments as in the recent court battle. on air pollution.
In their ruling, the judiciary ordered the President, Minister of the Environment, Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Health, and the governors of Jakarta, West Java and Banten to do whatever it takes to improve air quality, control cross-border pollution in Greater Jakarta and conduct research. on the effects of air pollution on health. As representatives of the state, central and provincial governments are responsible for the safety of citizens, including against environmental risks such as air pollution.
There is no doubt that the government, both nationally and sub-nationally, has taken various measures to prevent air pollution, but as the petitioners have found, the actions were far from enough. There are also many examples of policy inconsistencies regarding maintaining clean and healthy air on the part of the government, such as encouraging people to buy cars.
In Jakarta, as in other major cities around the world, emissions from combustion vehicles are the main contributor to air pollution. Nearly 11 million people in the capital are used to watching smog cover the city’s skyscrapers, with one exception when Jakarta was placed under strict mobility restrictions to contain the spread of COVID-19. ‘last year.
Instead of challenging the court’s ruling, which is legitimate in the country’s justice system, the government should comply with the ruling, just to prove that it serves and listens to its people. It can be safely said that the level of air pollution in Greater Jakarta is critical and therefore requires an immediate response.
Through pro-environmental policies, the government can be a game-changer in the fight against air pollution.