Child from Boh Nok in the Prachuap Khiri Khan province of Thailand holding a paper wind toy.
The Thai government delegation is on its way to the Earth Summit
now, and will bring good news with them that the cabinet has
decided to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement
to address climate change.
And the work for a clean, renewable energy future has already
begun. The small Thai municipality of Bo Nok began the installation
of a wind turbine to generate clean sustainable energy for their
local temple with the help of Greenpeace and an international crew
from the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise.
The people of Bo Nok and neighbouring Ban Krut campaigned for
the past eight years against two massive coal fired power stations
proposed by foreign developers including the US energy giant
Charoen Wataksorn, leader of the Love Bo Nok group speaking on
behalf of the community says they do not want Edison's coal plant.
"We want electricity, but not this dirty, polluting plant Edison
wants to build. World leaders at Johannesburg do not know Bo Nok,
but they should come and see that even a small community like ours
can say no to coal. We want clean energy instead."
Charoen says they are not anti-development and they are not
anti-Edison. If Edison came up with a proposal for a renewable
power plant, she says they would embrace it. "Leaders at
Johannesburg need to look at how development affects the whole
community, not just at the financial interests of the
multinationals and whether it makes a profit. After all, energy is
being made for people to use."
Two of the three countries with the worst record on climate
change action are behind the coal plants. Edison's proposed
734-Megawatt plant at Bo Nok would run on coal from PT Adaron mine
in Indonesia, which is owned by Australian company New Hope. The
1400 Megawatt Ban Krut plant, proposed by Union Power, Hong Kong
Electric, Tomen and other Japanese corporations, would get 80
percent of its coal from Australia, with the remainder coming from
Indonesia and South Africa.
The technology that would be used at the plants in Bo Nok and
Ban Krut would never meet the environmental and social protection
standards in California, home of the Edison Corporation. Yet the
companies involved would gladly spend two billion dollars on
building these plants that would damage the climate, cloud the air,
and choke the children of Thailand.
The dirty energy project that the community of Bo Nok fought
against for the last eight years in not uncommon in developing
nations. Developed nations, including the US, Canada and Australia,
give lip service to helping meet developing nations energy needs,
but then push dirty, dangerous and polluting technologies on these
countries including nuclear and coal-fired power - technologies
that many developed countries are now rejecting.
Thailand has a growing demand for electricity, but it doesn't
have to come from coal. Coal is dirty, expensive and it damages the
climate. It makes no sense to build new coal plants in Thailand,
when the country could get 35 percent of its electricity from
renewable sources by 2020, even if current consumption doubles.
Thailand's government is setting an example to all leaders at
the Earth Summit that these dirty technologies that wreak havoc on
our environment must be abandoned in favour of sustainable, clean
energy and a healthy future for everyone on the planet. The US,
Australia and Canada must follow Thailand's lead and ratify the
Kyoto protocol instead of trying to obstruct action on climate
We are calling on governments at the Earth Summit to make a
commitment to provide affordable renewable energy to the two
billion people around the world who live without electricity and
ensure that 10 percent of the world's energy is provided by
renewable resources by 2010. And no more lip service, leaders need
to put the money where their mouths are. We want them to phase out
all subsidies to fossil and nuclear fuels and we want a commitment
that international financial institutions move 20 percent of their
energy investments to clean, renewable energy.