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Air quality deterioration sparks concerns in Indonesia amid global climate change

Suharso Monoarfa, Indonesian Minister of National Development Planning, alerts to worsening air quality nationwide, particularly concerning in Jakarta.

Perplexed by the air quality difference between Batam and Singapore, he notes AQI variations despite their proximity.



INDONESIA: The Minister of National Development Planning (PPN)/Head of National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), Suharso Monoarfa, has raised alarm over the deteriorating air quality across Indonesia, with a majority of areas experiencing poor or orange-to-red categorized air quality.

Notably, the capital city of Jakarta is one such area grappling with this issue.

Suharso made these remarks during an event focused on Climate Change Anticipation for Indonesia’s Golden 2045 Development, held at the Bappenas Office in Jakarta, on Monday (21 Aug).

Highlighting the urgency of the situation, Suharso revealed that Jakarta had recently implemented a policy encouraging 50% of the workforce to operate from home due to the city’s alarming air quality.

“Today, Jakarta is reportedly advising 50% remote work, initiated by the DKI government because our air quality is quite poor,” stated Suharso.

Surprisingly, Suharso noted that Medan, located in North Sumatra, had air quality levels similar to Jakarta, ranging from orange to red.

Singapore air quality is better than Batam

However, he expressed puzzlement at the contrasting air quality comparison between Batam and Singapore.

While the Air Quality Index (AQI) data indicated yellow (moderate) air quality in Batam, several points in Singapore remained green (good). Suharso found this situation peculiar given the close proximity of Singapore to Indonesia.

The distance between Batam and Singapore is actually considered close. (Photo:

The uniqueness of this phenomenon extends beyond Singapore. Suharso pointed out that a similar pattern emerged in West Java, where three specific areas—Sindang, Cikelet, and one other—boasted good or green air quality.

“What’s intriguing is that West Java has three green areas,” he remarked.

However, he also highlighted those other regions in West Java, including Garut, Cirebon, and Bogor, were categorized as red or orange in terms of air quality.

Suharso also brought attention to the air quality in various parts of Bali. While some areas were deemed safe, others displayed yellow air quality levels.

“In Bali too, I observed the air quality. I thought Bali would be fine, except for areas like Nusa Dua, Jimbaran, and around there. However, Badung, Karangasem, up to Denpasar, are red and orange, and indeed, the traffic there is incredibly congested,” he said.

“Not long ago, Mr Jokowi also had a bit of a cough. He frequently travels outside Jakarta, outside the palace, I mean, and experiences this. This is a significant statement for us. How can we address this?” he continued.

The discussion expanded to the global context of climate change. Referring to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, Suharso highlighted that Earth’s average surface temperature had risen above 1.09 degrees Celsius compared to the period between 1850 and 1900.

Furthermore, as of 16 August, global atmospheric CO2 concentration had reached 419.55 parts per million, reflecting a 6.3% increase since 2011.

This rise in CO2 levels correlated with a threefold increase in sea-level rise from 1900 to 1971 due to polar ice melting.

The deteriorating air quality in Jakarta. (Photo: the documentary of CNBC)

Impending disasters and wake-up calls for resilience in Indonesia’s path to Golden 2045

Elaborating on the dire consequences, Suharso underlined that a temperature increase of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius would disrupt entire ecosystems.

Water resource availability would decrease, drought potential would rise, and the likelihood of diseases and natural disasters would surge, potentially pushing more than 100 million people into poverty.

Considering Indonesia’s geographical characteristics, Suharso emphasized that the archipelago nation, surrounded by tectonic activity and the Pacific Ring of Fire, a chain of volcanoes stretching for 40,000 km and an active seismic site extending across the Pacific Ocean, faced predominantly hydro-meteorological disasters.

These disasters have caused annual losses of around Rp22.8 trillion (approximately S$1.3 billion) and claimed the lives of 1,183 individuals over the past decade.

He projected economic losses of Rp544 trillion (US$27.6 billion) between 2020 and 2024 due to climate change, stemming from coastal flooding, water scarcity, maritime accidents, decreased rice productivity, heightened disease cases, and more.

In conclusion, Suharso stressed the importance of enhancing climate change resilience to pave the way for Indonesia’s aspirations to achieve its “Golden 2045.”

He called for the dissemination of knowledge related to climate change and its impacts to inform effective policies moving forward.

The Indonesian government’s focus on addressing these concerns in the face of climate change reflects a broader global effort to mitigate its effects and safeguard the planet’s future.

Climate disasters can lead to severe poverty. (Photo: illustration)

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