Charoen Wataksorn worked closely with Greenpeace during the campaign against the proposed coal fired power stations in Bo Nok and Ban Krut, Thailand. He continued to oppose the power plants despite numerous threats against him and his family.
Charoen, a humble, popular 38 year old returned home to the
breezy palm trees and tranquil paddy fields of coastal Prachuap
Khiri Khan province after telling senators in Bangkok how local
officials were colluding to transfer public land in Bo Nok to a
local strongman. By the end of the night he was dead.
The fight against the land grab was the latest in Chareon's
ongoing battle to preserve the local environment. The successful
campaign to stop the dirty coal plants of Bo Nok and Ban Krut was
lead by Chareon in an incredible example of grassroots organising.
It is the story of a whole community fighting back against large
industrial projects, corruption and bad investments that threaten
the local people, communities and the environment. It is an
inspiration for the whole environmental movement.
Sadly this is not an isolated case. Almost on a daily basis,
many community activists, mostly from poor villages in developing
countries, face this kind of a threat from vested interests. Sadly,
similar cases have gone unreported. This is why we are publicising
the struggle of southern environmental activists as epitomized by
This community's struggle against coal projects has travelled
the world, inspiring many communities including the Pulupandan
community in Negros, Philippines to resist dirty energy
development. Those who have won their local battles now support
other battles. We pay tribute to Charoen and to the many
communities out there who continue to struggle against unsuitable
development in order to protect the sustainability of their
The cancellation of these two coal-fired power plants marked the
turning point in Thailand's clean energy future. Had these plants
been built, Thailand would be importing coal from Indonesia and
Australia, fuelling global warming and racking up huge debts. Now,
the country has domestic options ranging from greater energy
efficiency to developing new renewable electricity sources for its
energy needs. Charoen also led in this area, helping to install a
solar power system on the temple where he lived.
Globally, this campaign is probably the first time ever that two
major coal power plants have not been developed once the companies
involved had committed to them. It was not an easy victory! The
proponents of the Bo Nok plant spent millions on greenwashing their
proposal with misleading adverts in national newspapers about
'Clean Coal'. They also got the US Ambassador to threaten
Thailand's government with 'capital flight' and divestment if such
major projects were cancelled. In the struggle to stop global
warming, reducing the uptake of coal in economies that largely
exist without it is key. Coal is a fuel of the past - renewable
energy is the future.
For us, Charoen represents a community that has chosen a path
towards a clean energy future for themselves and future
generations. In our hearts, we will always carry Charoen's courage,
and continue the fight for a clean and healthy environment we all
could live in.
Read a tribute
to Charoen from one of our former campaigners who worked with
him in the campaign against the coal plants.