This is WALHI's criticism of the MUI fatwa on climate control

  • The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has just launched Fatwa Number 86 of 2023 concerning the Law on Controlling Global Climate Change to the public. This fatwa has been established since November 16 2023
  • However, the fatwa received mixed reactions after it was launched. There were those who responded positively, and there were those who assessed it with criticism. One of them, as published by the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI)
  • Walhi criticized the lack of religious moral support from the MUI for various climate litigation efforts that have now been and are being undertaken by people in Indonesia affected by the climate crisis , as well as the lack of clarity regarding their position on the largest carbon emitting companies.
  • In fact, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) says there are 12 climate lawsuits currently underway in Indonesia. Including, a lawsuit from people affected by climate on Pari Island, Seribu Islands Regency, DKI Jakarta Province

Towards the end of last year, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) issued Fatwa No.86/2023 concerning the Law on Controlling Global Climate Change. The fatwa, which was issued on November 16 2023, was only officially launched last week in Jakarta.

This is a manifestation of the MUI's efforts to get involved in controlling climate change in Indonesia. Previously, this institution had issued fatwas five times, including a fatwa on the law on forest and land burning and its control, and a fatwa on environmentally friendly mining.

However, the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI) criticized the issuance of the Fatwa with various explanations. According to WALHI , the fatwa does not have a firm position on companies that contribute to the largest emissions ( major carbon ).

Then, WALHI National Executive Coastal and Marine Campaign Manager Parid Ridwanuddin said that the MUI did not express religious moral support for various climate litigation efforts that have now been and are being taken by people in Indonesia who are affected by the climate crisis.

Referring to data published by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), as many as 12 climate lawsuits are currently underway in Indonesia. Including, a lawsuit from people affected by climate on Pari Island, Seribu Islands Regency, DKI Jakarta Province.

The lawsuit was filed by four local people against the world's largest cement company based in Switzerland. The company has produced more than 7 billion tons of carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) from 1950 to 2021.

This data was published by an institution based in Switzerland, Hilfswerk Der Evangelischen Kirchen Schweiz (HEKS). Apart from Indonesia, climate lawsuits also occur throughout the world, where there has been an increase since 2017 with 500 lawsuits, to 2,000 lawsuits in 2022.

Four residents from Pari Island are demanding that Holcim do three things, namely reducing emissions by 69 percent by 2040; pay into climate adaptation funds; and paying loss and damage funds to four Climate plaintiffs.

The lawsuit against the four people was filed because Pari Island is a small island which is currently experiencing the impacts of climate change. Among the serious impacts that have occurred is the sinking of the island, which is home to more than 1,500 people.

Together with HEKS, WALHI has calculated the area of ​​land that has disappeared from Pari Island and it turns out that it has reached 11 percent of the island's total land area of ​​42 hectares. This means that 4.6 ha of the island's land area no longer exists, meaning it is below sea level.

Parid then added that climate change has resulted in residents who work as fishermen experiencing a significant decline in fish catches. When compared to before climate change came to Pari Island, the current conditions are very bad because there has been a decline in catches of up to 60 percent.

This fact was revealed by one of the plaintiffs who is also a local traditional fisherman, Mustaghfirin (50). He said the decline also occurred because many types of marine fish were increasingly difficult to find in the waters around Pari Island.

If in the past, local fishermen could still find and catch grouper and skipjack easily, now the conditions are very different. This is partly because the sea water around the island has experienced an increase in temperature to the point where it feels warmer.

“The climate crisis has also caused tidal floods to occur more frequently on Pari Island. "Due to the tidal floods, many tourists have canceled their tourist visits to the island," he said as reported by WALHI in its official statement, last week.

Inevitably, this situation has dealt a hard blow to local communities who have been very dependent on the fishing and tourism sectors to survive. The main income from these two sectors is the economic backbone of every family there.

For WALHI, what happened on Pari Island is a real illustration of the big threat from climate change that is currently lurking on small islands throughout Indonesia. Apart from Pari Island, there are six other small islands in the Thousand Islands which are also facing the threat of sinking.

Of the six islands, Ubi Besar Island is the only one that is inhabited and it has previously been recorded that there were residents who chose to move to Untung Jawa Island to become refugees. This fact illustrates how dangerous the threat of climate change is to human life and nature.

More broadly, the threat of the climate crisis to small islands throughout Indonesia is also currently occurring. Some of the islands that face the threat of climate change are inhabited and some are not.

However, WALHI still expressed its appreciation for what MUI had done. Fatwa No.86/2023 is the first fatwa in Indonesia, or perhaps in the world, to specifically review the issue of the climate crisis.

Prior to this fatwa, the MUI had issued fatwas regarding the environment four times. The fifth is MUI Fatwa No.22/2011 concerning Environmentally Friendly Mining; and MUI Fatwa No.04/2014 concerning Preserving Endangered Animals to Maintain Ecosystem Balance.

Then, MUI Fatwa No.41/2014 concerning Waste Management to Prevent Environmental Damage; MUI Fatwa No.30/2016 concerning the Law on Forest and Land Burning and Its Control ; and MUI Fatwa No.86/2023 concerning Laws for Controlling Global Climate Change.

Critical Note

Apart from appreciation, WALHI made a number of critical notes regarding MUI Fatwa No.86/2023. First, the MUI still uses the term controlling global climate change. The word control explains that the current crisis situation is a condition that must occur, but we are asked to control the situation.

In fact, the current global climate crisis is produced by a long history of emissions production from industrial countries and hundreds of multinational companies, especially in the oil, gas, coal and cement sectors. These planned and structured events cannot be anticipated and controlled by the Indonesian people.

In other words, Indonesian people are victims of the climate crisis. This means that sending a sentence using the word control is considered inappropriate, because the Indonesian people have become victims and will certainly have difficulty controlling the climate crisis.

Second, in point c of the consideration material, the MUI stated that the climate crisis is rooted in the interrelation of economic, social, political and cultural factors, as well as belief systems, attitudes and social perceptions. However, it is not stated more clearly what economic, social, political and cultural factors, as well as belief systems, attitudes and social perceptions are causing the current climate crisis.

Third, there is no explanation regarding the relevance and significance of the mention of verses, hadith and the words of ulama in the current crisis situation. In fact, the MUI quoted verses, hadiths and words of ulama in previous books.

Fourth, MUI mentions two ways to control the climate crisis, namely mitigation and adaptation. However, MUI forgot one important thing that was discussed at the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, at the end of 2022, namely loss and damage funds .

The loss and damage fund itself is a mechanism pushed by the global environmental movement to hold corporations accountable that produce emissions and profit from extracting natural resources.

This mechanism is important, because although mitigation can still be used as a way to fight the climate crisis, adaptation is considered increasingly irrelevant. For example, how coastal communities whose villages or small islands are sinking must adapt, while their homes and living spaces have been lost.

"Thus, this fatwa does not take into account international consensus, especially regarding loss and damage funds ," explained WALHI.

Fifth, the legal provisions, especially point 2, state that uncontrolled deforestation is unlawful. The mention of this sentence is considered odd, because if deforestation is controlled it could mean that the law is not haram.

This means that it can be concluded from these legal provisions that activities such as illegal mining are not permitted because they are haram. However, on the other hand, if mining activities have an official permit, aka legal, then it is permitted because it is in the controllable category.

Sixth, the legal provisions, especially point 3 letter c, state that all parties are obliged to make efforts for a just energy transition. Then, in point 9 of the general provisions, it is stated that a just energy transition is a transition towards a clean, zero-carbon energy system by considering the justice side, which includes social aspects in the process and implementation, and ensures that society can have sovereignty over its energy sources.

According to WALHI, the MUI's definition of zero carbon should be interpreted more broadly, including efforts to drastically reduce overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that contribute to the climate crisis. Referring to the provisions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), it includes CO 2 , Methane (CH 4 ), Nitrous Oxide (N 2 O), Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), Perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).

Seventh, the fatwa is considered not to consider the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities . This is because point 3 letter c in the legal provisions which contains an invitation to reduce the carbon footprint of all parties is considered very unfair.

WALHI assesses that currently the largest producers of carbon footprints are still controlled by people with large amounts of wealth. These are the ones who can own palm oil and/or mining concessions in forests or seas with very large areas and very long concession periods.

Meanwhile, inequality in control of natural resources was not seen or referred to in the preparation of this fatwa.

Eighth, in recommendation point b, the MUI encourages the government to develop a just green economy. In this regard, WALHI has criticized a number of economic paradigms that have been developing in the world, including criticism of the green economy and the blue economy.

WALHI sees that both the green economy and the blue economy are part of global capitalism which encourages the exploitation of natural resources, both on land and at sea. Therefore, WALHI developed an economic concept which is the antithesis of the two economic paradigms, namely the Indonesian economy

In the end, it is important to fundamentally question the concept of a green economy again.

Ninth, the MUI did not include a point urging the central government to evaluate all laws and regulations that aggravate and worsen the impact of the climate crisis on society. That point is not in the recommendations for the central government.

Among the laws and regulations that can be mentioned are Law No.11/2020 concerning Job Creation, Law No.3/2020 concerning Amendments to Law No.4/2009 concerning Mineral and Coal Mining; and Law No.3/2022 concerning National Capital.

Instead of mentioning these three laws and regulations, the MUI only encourages the central government to accelerate the formation of regulations directly related to the climate crisis.

Tenth, the MUI also did not include a point urging parliament to evaluate all laws and regulations that aggravate and exacerbate the impact of the climate crisis on society. It is considered that this recommendation should be made available to the legislature.

Like point nine, the MUI only encourages parliament to accelerate the formation of regulations directly related to climate change by containing the principles and principles of climate justice. However, the MUI did not explain in detail what the principles and principles of climate justice are.


Through an official statement, Chairman of the MUI Environment and Natural Resources Breeding Institute, Hayu Prabowo, said that controlling climate change requires collaborative efforts from various parties, both the Government and the general public.

He said that climate change and global warming are caused by various factors that cause extreme weather, triggering prolonged droughts, rainfall and rising sea levels.

When the fatwa is drafted by the team, the fatwa commission together with the proposing institution conducts a field visit to collect empirical evidence about the causes and impacts of climate change in the field. Apart from that, focused group discussions (FGD) were carried out involving various stakeholders and scientific references.

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