Taking global action against global warming

Feature story - December 7, 2005
MONTREAL, Canada — From meeting rooms in Montreal to coal-fired power plants in Germany and Thailand to ports hosting shiploads of illegal nuclear waste, Greenpeace has been in action against global warming around the world in the last two weeks.

The Rainbow Warrior in action against coal in Australia.

In Germany, the most polluting coal plant in Europe provided the platform for a simple message: "CO2 Kills."  The owner of  the plant is planning ten new brown-coal power units, one of which together with the plant we've occupied will emit more CO2 than the entire nation of New Zealand.  Twenty Greenpeace activists occupied the stack for  two days.

In Montreal, 181 countries are meeting to determine what the world is going to do about global warming. A key issue at the summit is how other countries will deal with strong pressure from the US to ignore climate change.  Our message to the delegates? Ignore the US administration. Take action.  

In Canada, the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Bangladesh, Brazil, Australia and South Africa, people took to the streets on Saturday to demand just that. 7,000 marched on Montreal alone. Five environmental groups including Greenpeace delivered a petition signed by 600,000 Americans to the US consulate in Montreal, calling upon President Bush and the US Congress to help slow global warming.

In the UK, Greenpeace activists made clear that the government won't be able to build more dirty nuclear power plants without a fight, as they occupied the room in which Tony Blair planned to outline a review of the UK's energy future.

In France, Greenpeace blocked a shipment of nuclear waste bound for Russia in an action illustrating one more reason why nuclear power is not a solution to climate change. The waste is currently in transit along more than a dozen European coastlines, a terrorist target and a telling reminder that nobody knows what to do with nuclear waste.

And today in Thailand, the latest stop on the Rainbow Warrior's South East Asian Energy Revolution campaign was one of Asia's largest coal-fired power plants. Activists 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.

Greenpeace activists from Thailand, the Philippines and the United States set up camp outside the main gate of the plant to protest the Thai government's plans to open 18 more dirty power plants in the next decade.

"Coal is the main cause of climate change in Thailand and Southeast Asia.  Greenpeace demands that construction on this site be stopped and a thorough review of the Thai Government's coal-driven energy plan be undertaken immediately," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia spokesperson Tara Buakamsri from the camp. "We will stay here until our demands are met."

When it comes to climate change, Asia is a place of particular opportunity and threat.

Climate change is causing severe hardship in Thailand and across the Southeast Asia region, and according to Tara,  "Plants like BLCP are the main culprits."

Catastrophic droughts across Thailand  this year cost the country US $193 million and untold human suffering. The Thai government has set a target of delivering 8% of its energy from renewables by 2011, a goal which we don't believe the government can meet if it continues to divert funding from renewables into coal.

Renewables can provide 35 percent of Thailand's energy supply by 2020; there already exists enough biomass to power 25 percent of the country's electricity needs.

"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.

"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 those energies. It's time for less talk and more action."

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 biomass. The tour started in Australia and will end  in Thailand.

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