Ning.jpg Sureerut Taechusakul (Ning) is a community leader from Thailand’s Prachuap Khiri Khan (PKK) Province. Ning has been spearheading the fight against dirty coal plants in Thailand and is in Bali with a Greenpeace team, to be a thorn in the side of a huge gathering of the coal industry, the people responsible for fuelling climate change.

[photo: Ning in middle, in green © Greenpeace]

Bali plays a critical role this year as it hosts the most important climate negotiating process for Asian countries, the next stage of the Kyoto Treaty negotiations in December. Ironically Bali is also playing host to another gathering this time of the people responsible for fuelling climate change - Coal Trans 2007.

Ning has been campaigning against coal and for cleaner safer energy options for her country for years and led a successful campaign against two large-scale coal plants in PKK. Recently, however, the government has revived its plans to build a coal plant and Ning is again leading the community struggle against it. Theirs is a story of persistence, and relentless dedication to the campaign for a cleaner safer energy future even if they face great risks.

From Ning in Bali

Two weeks ago I was invited by Greenpeace to attend a roundtable discussion on “Coal Climate and Impacts” in Bali, Indonesia, as part of a build up to Greenpeace’s campaign in response to Bali Coaltrans - a Summit of Climate Killers – taking place in Bali from 3-6th of June 2007. I was asked to share our experiences of the fight against dirty coal projects in Thailand.

Communities from three villages in PKK, Bo Nok, Ban Krut and Tapsakae, and one district, Bang Saphan, regrouped to oppose a proposed 2,800 MW coal-fired power plant owned by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT). Under Thailand’s Power Development Plan, this plant will become one of the largest in South-east Asia at 4,000 MW. We are also running local campaign against the expansion of a steel smelting plant owned by one of the biggest Thai conglomerates and using more than 3 million tons of imported coal.

We take strength from our past victories, already having defeated two dirty coal plants at Bo Nok and Ban Krut. It has been such a long struggle and we lost our beloved leader- Charoen Wat-aksorn, who devoted himself to the struggle and sacrificed his life for the sake of the communities and for future generations.

At the roundtable discussion, which took place at a very impressive environmentally friendly resort in Denpasar-the capital of Bali, I listened to other speakers - Dr. Amri Susandi – an expert on sea level rise and Dr. Sudiarta – an expert on coral bleaching around Bali. It raised my awareness of the regional climate impacts. I was very happy to increase my knowledge of climate change and to play my role to raise public awareness about global warming here in Bali.

I was even more excited to engage with the local villages and civil society in Bali on climate change issues. They are also very eager to learn more about our struggle in Thailand. I also found out about proposals to build dirty coal plants in Bali. To me, this makes no sense at all. Bali’s unique cultural and ecological identity and clean, green and peaceful environment for sustainable tourism will suffer if the coal plants get the go ahead. The coal plant will destroy local livelihoods, the economy and environment as it has done already in Thailand.

In my community we all know that dirty coal projects will continue to be proposed. We have to keep up our fight to protect our land, our sea and the future of our children and grand children. We all agree that we will fight together until the end. I am very glad to join Greenpeace’s campaign to highlight the true costs of coal at this gathering of coal barons and climate killers here in Bali.