Ten-thousand call for an Energy [R]evolution in Thailand

Feature story - 24 February, 2011
10,000 people in Thailand took to the streets near their homes to oppose dirty energy. Their goal: protect their province from coal plants slated to be built by the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand.

Thai Protest against Proposed Coal Plant

Local communities announced their call to action to stop serious economic, social and environmental impacts from the dirty coal plant. We joined their call by demanding the government of Thailand make a clean energy future a reality for Thai communities by abandoning plans to build more coal fired power plants and prioritize solutions such as renewable energy.

This is not the first time we have seen such inspriring action from the people of Southeast Asia, when it comes to opposing the spread of dangerous and dirty energy sources like coal and nuclear energy. In the last few years we’ve seen so many examples of great things that can happen when people stand up for what they believe in.

Communities in southern Thailand are saying “Coal will be clean when dogs can fly.” They say: “we have enough fruit, we have so many fish to eat. We are not poor. The coal industry is telling us that they will bring development to our community but this can't be true as right now we are already rich."

Communities sourrounding the coal plants and coal mines in Thailand and the rest of Southeast Asia are already suffering from impacts related to dirty energy. Mae Moh in Lampang province is considered to be the worst coal-fired power plant of its kind in Asia, causing illnesses and diseases as well as lost livelihoods. Two other coal plants, both in Map Ta Phut Industrial Estate in Rayong province, are no different, and causing additional damage to the sourrounding communities.

Fly ash from one is contaminated with a range of toxic and potentially toxic elements such as mercury, cadmium, lead, arsenic and nickel, and recently, the other has been included in the list of harmful industries requiring mandatory environmental and health impact assessment.

In Indonesia, coal mining in Samarinda, Kalimantan and coal plants in Cirebon and Cilacap in Java have left communities without livelihoods in addition to endangering their health.

Chariya Senpong, our Climate and Energy Campaigner in Southeast Asia says, “To avoid the disastrous consequences of a coal-powered future the government must embrace an Energy Revolution – a massive uptake of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. This is what the communities in Nakhon Si Thammarat and across Thailand are demanding and what the Thai government should instead deliver.”