Stop climate killing coal plants in Thailand

Press release - 7 December, 2005
With its flagship the Rainbow Warrior looking on, Greenpeace activists today climbed the loading crane of the BLCP coal plant at Map Ta Phut in Thailand and unfurled banners demanding the plant's immediate closure, calling on the Thai government to phase out coal power and to commit to renewable energy.

Banner on crane at site of what will be Thailand's largest coal-fired power plant.

"The catastrophic droughts across Thailand this year cost the country US $193 million - climate change is causing severe hardship here and across the Southeast Asia region (1) and plants like BLCP are the main culprits," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia's Energy spokesperson Tara Buakamsri from   Map Ta Phut.

Greenpeace believes that the Thai government will not be able to deliver on its promise of an 8% renewable energy target by 2011 as long as it continues to give the go-ahead to new coal-fired plants like BLCP.

"Climate change is a reality but so too are the solutions," said Jean-Francois Fauconnier of Greenpeace International aboard the Rainbow Warrior.  "Wind, solar and modern biomass power are already big business not only in Europe but also in China. The potential in Thailand is equally huge. (2)

"International financial institutions like the Asian Development Bank and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation should stop financing coal. They continuously talk up their support for renewables yet we've seen very little in the way of funds being re-directed towards alternatives. No more talk, it's time for action."

Signatories to the Kyoto Protocol are currently meeting in Montreal to discuss targets for reducing greenhouse emissions beyond 2012.  "Industrialised nations should not only commit to a 30% reduction by 2020 and 80% by 2050 (3) in their own domestic greenhouse gas emissions but they should also stop exporting climate change to developing countries. (4) They ought to assist these countries to embrace renewables," concluded Fauconnier.

The activity is part of an international protest by Greenpeace against new coal power plants. In Germany activists have been  protesting since Monday on top a cooling tower of the RWE energy company, Europe's biggest CO2 polluter.

Greenpeace's flagship the Rainbow Warrior is in Bangkok on the Thailand leg of its 10-week Asia Energy Revolution Tour, exposing the impacts of climate change and promoting the uptake of renewable energy like wind and modern biomass. The tour started in Australia and will end in Thailand.

Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organisation that uses non-violent creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems to drive solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

Other contacts: Tara Buakamsri, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Climate Campaigner +66 185 50 013Jean-Francois Fauconnier, Greenpeace International Climate Campaigner +66 142 29 645Michael Kessler, Greenpeace International Communications +66 689 84 302Ua-phan Chamnan-Ua, Greenpeace South East Asia Media Officer +66 192 82 426

VVPR info: Video: Michael Nagasaka, Greenpeace International +31207182190Photos: John Novis, Greenpeace International + 31 20 718 2058

Notes: 1. 9.2 million people were affected by the drought that damaged some 800,000 hectares at a cost of $US193.2 million. Subsequently, the 2005 rice crop in Thailand is expected to fall by between 11-14%. Similarly drastic falls are expected in national sugar cane production. Source: AP news services March 11, 20052. Renewables can provide 35% of Thailand's energy supply by 2020 -there already exists enough biomass to power 25% of the country's electricity needs. Burning our Future, p5. See www.asiacleanenergy.org3. This figure is based on the fact that global temperatures need to be kept below 2°C to prevent dangerous climate change.4. Australia is the world's largest coal exporter. 80% of its coal goes to Asia.For instance, the Map Ta Phut BLCP plant will require approximately 3.5 million tonnes of coal per year, all of which will be supplied by Rio Tinto, an Australian company.