Sunrise through the haze - dawn of a new energy era for Thailand

Press release - 15 August, 2002
As Greenpeace takes its Choose Positive Energy tour to Thailand, news of a pollution haze over Asia is a timely reminder that energy is an important issue for both development and the environment.

Reports this week of a massive haze of pollution over Asia were a timely reminder of the need for Thailand to break free from the path of fossil fuels and embrace renewable energy, Greenpeace said as its ship Arctic Sunrise, arrived in Bangkok today for the Choose Positive Energy tour.

This week the United Nations Environment Program reported that a massive cloud of pollution more than 3km deep was covering part of Asia. The report said the brown haze was caused by dramatic increases in the burning of fossil fuels in vehicles, industries and power stations, emissions from millions of inefficient cookers, as well as forest fires and the burning of agricultural waste. The haze, which is disrupting the climate, damaging agriculture, affecting monsoon rainfall and contributing to death rates from respiratory illness, was expected to intensify as Asia's population increases.

"As world leaders prepare to meet in Johannesburg later this month for the Earth Summit on Sustainable Development, this is a clear reminder that energy is both a development issue and an environmental issue," said Penrapee Noparumpa Greenpeace Southeast Asia climate campaigner, speaking in Bangkok. "This is why Greenpeace's Choose Positive Energy tour has come to Thailand to support local people's struggle against coal-fired power plants and their demand for clean electricity from renewables."

"Like other developing nations, Thailand has a fast growing demand for electricity, but proposals to meet this demand with greenhouse-polluting fossil fuels such as coal are only going to worsen the problems of climate change."

Greenpeace opened the Thai leg of the Choose Positive Energy today tour by calling on the Prime Minister, Mr Thaksin Shinawatra, to revoke all approvals for two proposed coal fired power stations in Bo Nok and Ban Krut in the Thai province of Prachuab Khiri Khan (PKK). The plants, which have been postponed for two years, are proposed by US company Edison, with Japanese and Hong Kong backers, and would be fuelled by Australian coal.

"We want Prime Minister Shinawatra to put the final nail in the coffin of the proposed PKK coal-fired power plants," said Noparumpa. "It's not enough that they have been delayed. Thailand must send a strong signal to northern governments and corporations that South East Asia does not want old fashioned dirty technology dumped here. This could be the dawn of the renewables era in Thailand - a new sunrise through the haze."

The Choose Positive Energy tour promotes clean renewable energy, such as wind and solar, and supports the people of South East Asia who reject polluting negative energy, such as coal and nuclear power. In the North Sea, the European leg of the Choose Positive Energy tour has just ended, after documenting climate change impacts on glaciers and promoting wind energy.

"Our tour will also highlight the fact that Thailand has clean energy alternatives and that if harnessed could meet the country's future energy supply in a sustainable way," said Noparumpa.

"Global warming will continue to threaten the economies of developing countries for as long as northern countries dump their dangerous old fashioned technology on us," said Noparumpa. "The worst of these nations, Australia, the US and Japan are putting pressure on the Thai government to be allowed to push their climate-disrupting fossil fuels technology on us."

Greenpeace is campaigning for governments to make a commitment at the Johannesburg Earth Summit, to provide clean and affordable renewable energy to the two billion people around the world who currently live without electricity.

Find the UNEP report at

VVPR info: Pictures will be available on request from John Novis on +31 20524 9580