Victory in Greece as the Quit Coal campaign moves to Indonesia

Feature story - February 13, 2009
Choking children, destroyed crops and a devastated fishing industry. That's the price the local community at Cilacap in Indonesia have had to pay since a coal-fired power plant was constructed in their town. Today 40 Greenpeace activists and local community representatives chained themselves to the gates of the coal plant to block the transport of coal on Central Java's south coast.

12 February 2009 Cilacap, Central Java, INDONESIA.
Greenpeace takes direct action to expose the true cost of coal at Cilacap coal plant on Central Java’s south coast. 40 Greenpeace activists and local community representatives, wearing white masks to symbolise the health risks to local communities, chained themselves to the gates of the Cilacap coal plant. Greenpeace is denouncing the faulty projections by Indonesia’s Energy ministry to justify the building of new coal plants that do not take into account so-called "external costs" such as respiratory diseases, mining accidents, acid rain, smog pollution, reduced agricultural yields and climate change.

The action is in response to the Indonesian Minister of Energy's decision to build or expand 35 more coal-fired plants in the next 2 years - including doubling the size of the Cilacap plant. The activists are determined that, rather than devastate more communities and fuel global warming with coal power, Indonesia should embrace its potential in geothermal, solar and wind energy, and choose for an energy revolution.

That's what has just happened in Greece where, following a six-month long Quit Coal campaign by Greenpeace, the Greek Minister of Development has stated that the government is not considering hard coal or nuclear power as part of Greece's energy future. Instead the Greek government will be rewriting its Long-Term Energy Plan to exclude coal and promote renewable energy and energy efficiency.

That's the kind of future Indonesia needs to choose. Along with allies including KAM Cilacap, JATAM, Walhi and Sekolah Demokrasi Ekonomi we have launched a campaign against building new, and expanding existing, coal-fired power plants in Indonesia. The first step is the launch of an Indonesian version of our True Cost of Coal Report, which spells out the real costs of coal power - over 350 billion euro a year in environmental and health costs; costs that are borne by communities like Cilacap rather than utilities like PT Segara Sumber Prima who operate the planet in Cilacap.

Decisions like those being taken in Greece and Indonesia will have a global impact. In December this year, world leaders have their best chance to avoid run-away climate change at the UN talks in Copenhagen. As countries like Greece choose for an energy revolution the chance of a good deal rises, but if nations like Indonesia lock themselves into a future of pollution the challenge becomes greater.

The Quit Coal Tour- Greece, October 2008

In 2008, the Rainbow Warrior and the Arctic Sunrise took the clear message to Quit Coal  to 11 Mediterranean and European countries, including Greece.

When the campaign began, four new coal-fired power plants were planned in Greece. Following a campaign against the first, we met with the prospective owner and convinced him to drop the plan. We also hosted the two main opposition parties in Greek politics on board the Rainbow Warrior, where both agreed to quit coal if they came to office. Now that determination has reached the government and Greece can look forward to a cleaner future.

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