Activists halt Australian coal export to Thailand

Feature story - 7 September, 2006
Facing down stick-wielding personnel, water-canon-spraying marine police,and gun-wielding navy seals, five Greenpeace activists in Thailand have delayed a shipment of Australian coal from being unloaded at a controversial coal plant in Maptaphut, Thailand.

The BLCP coal plant at Map Ta Phut in Thailand.

The five activists chained themselves to the pier bumper and hung banners that read 'Coal = climate change, Clean Energy Now'. They remained for two hours before being detained by police with the help of Navy seals.

A 170,00 tonne carrier, MV Star Europe, carrying a large shipment of coal from Newcastle, NSW (the world's largest coal exporting port) has been anchored a few nautical miles away, waiting for the area to be cleared.

The coal plant, BLCP,  is jointly owned by Banpu and Hong Kong based China Light and scheduled to open in October. BLCP is a classic example of dirty international financing by the likes of Asian Development Bank and Japan Bank for International Cooperation.

"The BLCP coal plant will exacerbate the impacts of climate change, which is already starting to exact a heavy toll on the people and economies of Thailand and Southeast Asia. It does not help that Australia is fuelling climate change in the region with its coal exports," said Tara Buakamsri of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

"Thailand must stop any further use of coal and put a policy in place for the massive increase of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects."

The 1,434 MW BLCP coal plant will release nearly 12 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, and once in operation this plant alone will cause Thailand's carbon emissions to rise by almost 6 percent a year, according to Greenpeace projections.

Coal is the dirtiest of fossil fuels, emitting 29 percent more carbon per unit of energy than oil and 80 percent more than gas, and contributing significantly to climate change.

"Coal and coal-fired power stations have been strongly opposed by communities in the region. However, the Australian government refuses to take action on global warming while ignoring climate impacts on its own citizens and other countries in Asia. The whole region will be further threatened by the increase of investments in coal power plants across Asia many of which will rely on the supply of Australian coal." said Catherine Fitzpatrick, Greenpeace Australia Pacific energy campaigner.

Learn more

Learn more about Australian coal at the Greenpeace Australia-Pacific website

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