Indonesian islanders sue corporation over climate change

Pulau Pari

Four residents of the Indonesian island of Pulau Pari on July 12 filed a lawsuit against Swiss cement giant Holcim over the effects of climate change on the island. Swiss Church Aid(HEKS), the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) and the Indonesian Forum for Environment (WALHI) are backing the suit brought in the Swiss courts. The residents claim that climate change has caused rising tides and devastating floods. One plaintiff, Edi, stated: “I find it very unjust that a handful of people are destroying the environment and are doing so for their own person[al] benefit.”

HEKS warns that the island will be underwater by 2050 if nothing changes. Another plaintiff, Bobby, stated: “I am extremely worried about the people in Pari should these floods become more frequent. The biggest concern is: if Pari is submerged, where are we to go, where are we to live?”

According to a study from the University of Massachusetts, Holcim is the 48th biggest global polluter. A report from the Climate Accountability Institute finds that Holcim emitted seven billion tons of CO2 from 1950 to 2021. HEKS notes this is more than twice as much as the entire country of Switzerland.

ECCHR pointed out that the suit is “noteworthy as they are urging the company to pay compensation for loss and damages already incurred, as well as to finance urgently needed flood protection measures.”

Holcim responded to the suit, saying: “We significantly reduced our footprint over the last decade and will cut it further by 2030.”

From Jurist, July 12. Used with permission.

Similar suits have been launched by other island-dwellers and small island nations.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons