Walhi Deems Jokowi State of Nation Address Encourages Environmental Damage

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – Indonesian Forum for the Environment, or WALHI, of the Central Sulawesi chapter, regretted that President Joko Widodo or Jokowi did not touch on issues of environmental damage caused by the downstream nickel mining in his State of Nation address at the parliament building on Wednesday, August 16, 2023.

Aulia Hakim, Head of Advocacy and Campaigns for WALHI Central Sulawesi, said Jokowi’s speech did not touch at all on issues of saving the people and the environment, instead, it encouraged extractive-based investments, such as downstream nickel and electric vehicles. In fact, the damage to people’s living space is caused by policies that perpetuate these extractive industries.

According to Aulia, the president’s speech really reflects the government’s support for capital intensive. Meanwhile, he went on, the impact of this industry has been felt by the people of Central Sulawesi, especially in areas of the nickel mining industry, such as Morowali, North Morowali, and Banggai.

“Resources for management areas and the health of fishermen, farmers, and local residents have been disrupted, and guarantees of eligibility for health and wages for mining workers have also been continuously exploited,” said Aulia in a written statement on Wednesday, August 16.

He continued that instead of responding to the problems faced by the people, President Jokowi prefers to push for downstream nickel and EV acceleration, with the support of pro-capital-intensive regulations, which is then claimed as a major achievement for the country in economic growth in the eyes of the world.

Aulia asserted that this is inversely proportional to the government’s efforts to tackle air pollution by encouraging electric vehicles. WALHI believes that this shows that President Jokowi has failed to understand the high emissions and the threat of environmental damage resulting from the downstream of nickel as a component in the manufacture of electric vehicle batteries.

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“From the more than a million hectares of nickel mining concessions that have been granted by the government, at least 50 million tons of CO2 emissions will be released into the atmosphere due to changes in land cover,” said Aulia.

Meanwhile, in the production process, the amount of CO2 emissions generated to produce per ton of Class 1 nickel from Indonesian laterite ores is estimated at 59 tons of emissions equivalent to CO2. In addition, Indonesia’s energy network is still heavily dependent on fossil energy, including in industrial areas which are the main centers for nickel processing. This is estimated to contribute at least 200 million tons of emissions.

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