Day 3 of climate protest in Asia: VICTORY!

Taking global action against global warming

Feature story - 9 December, 2005
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.

Greenpeace ended a three-day occupation of the Map Ta Phut coal power plant when the government agreed to a review of its energy policy.

Update 9 December:  In a major breakthrough, the Thai National Economic and Social Advisory Council of thePrime Minister's office  has committed to  review theGovernment's energy policy.  We are ending our blockade of the Map Ta Phut coal facility.

"Greenpeace considers this amajor victory for the Thai people," said Greenpeace Southeast Asiaspokesperson Tara Buakamsri from the sit-in which had disrupted theplant's operations today. "Thailand has a vast potential for clean,renewable energies such as modern biomass, wind and solar. It's time toshift government policy towards them."

The Rainbow Warrior's South East Asian Energy Revolution campaignentered its third day of activity today at one of Asia's largestcoal-fired power plants. Activists from Thailand, the Philippines, and the United States climbed theloading crane of the BLCP coal plant at Map Ta Phut in Thailand andunfurled banners demanding the plant's immediate closure on Wednesday, calling onthe Thai government to phase out coal power and to commit to renewableenergy.  On Thrusday they added a camp onan electricity pylon, and on Friday blockaded the entrance to the plant.

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

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

Meanwhile, on the other side of the globe.

In Germany earlier this week, the most polluting coal plant in Europe provided theplatform for a simple message: "CO2 Kills."  The owner of the plant is planning ten new brown-coal power units, one ofwhich together with the plant we've occupied will emit more CO2 thanthe entire nation of NewZealand.  Twenty Greenpeace activists occupied the stack for more than 60 hours.

InMontreal, 181 countries are meeting to determine what the world isgoing to do about global warming. A key issue atthe summit is how other countries will deal with strong pressure fromthe US to ignore climate change.  Our message to the delegates? Ignore the US administration. Take action. (Updates here)

In Canada, the United States, Japan, Germany,France, Bangladesh, Brazil, Australia and South Africa, people took to the streetson Saturday to demand just that. 7,000 marched onMontreal alone. Five environmental groups including Greenpeacedelivered a petition signed by 600,000 Americans to the US consulate inMontreal, calling upon President Bush and the US Congress to help slowglobal warming.

In the UK, Greenpeace activists made clear thatthe government won't be able to build more dirty nuclear power plantswithout 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 boundfor Russia in an action illustrating one more reason why nuclear poweris not a solution to climate change. The waste is currently in transitalong more than a dozen European coastlines, a terrorist target and atelling reminder that nobody knows what to do with nuclear waste.

Asia and global warming

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

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

Renewables can provide 35 percent of Thailand's energy supply by2020; there already exists enough biomass to power 25 percent of thecountry's electricity needs.

"Climatechange is a reality but so too are the solutions," said Jean-FrancoisFauconnier of Greenpeace International aboard the Rainbow Warrior. "Wind, solar and  modern biomass power are already bigbusiness  not only in Europe but also in China. The potential in Thailand is equally huge.

"International financialinstitutions like the Asian Development Bank and the Japan Bank forInternational Cooperation  should stop  financing coal. Theycontinuously talk up their  support for renewables yet we've seen verylittle in the way of funds being re-directed  towards thoseenergies. It's time for less talk and more action."

Greenpeace's flagship the Rainbow Warrior is inBangkok on the Thailand leg of its 10-week Asia Energy Revolution Tour,exposing the impacts of climate change and promoting the uptake ofrenewable energy like wind and biomass. The tour started in Australiaand will end  in Thailand.

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