People's Declaration Against Coal and In Support of Clean Energy

Page - October 19, 2006
Greenpeace and over 20 community organizations representing thousands of people from across from Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Thailand has launched a People’s Declaration Against Coal in Prachuap Khiri Khan, Thailand—the last destination of the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior’s Asia Energy Revolution Tour 2005.

Greenpeace and over 20 community organisations representing thousands of people from across from Australia, the Philippinees and Thailand today launched a People’s Declaration Against Coal.

We, the members of the communities hosting and threatened by coal-fired power plants in Asia, have come together today to claim our rights to clean air, water, soil and living space in our planet.

The operation of coal plants are an affront to the well-being of our families and ecosystems. We denounce proposals to build more of these terrible polluting power stations, which create more havoc than benefit to people and the environment. The use of coal for energy results in grave environmental, health and social problems the impacts of which fall most seriously on poor communities around and downwind of such dirty energy plants. Coal is the most carbon intensive of all fossil fuels, emitting 29 percent more carbon per unit of energy than oil and 80 percent more than gas. The more coal is burned, the more pollution is released, chief among which is the climate changing greenhouse gas called carbon dioxide, or CO2, which comprises the largest portion among greenhouse gases.

Climate change is the most serious environmental threat facing the planet today. Our world today is hotter than it has been in two thousand years. If current trends continue, the global temperature will likely climb higher than at any time in the past two million years. It is a fact that the years 1998, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 are the five hottest years on record globally. According to NASA, "a weak El Nino and human-made greenhouse gases could make 2005 the warmest year since records started being kep in the late 1800s."1

Millions are at risk. There is strong evidence that other extreme weather events such as hurricanes, droughts and heat waves are increasing in intensity because of climate change. Rising sea levels, melting glaciers, massive flooding, coral bleaching, the rapid decline

of agricultural yields, an increase in risk of species extinction and biodiversity loss are but some of the impacts of climate change that we face today and may continue to experience with increasing intensity and frequency if we don't take action to stop climate change today.

Coal is a highly polluting energy source. From mine to sky, from extraction to combustion, coal pollutes every step of the way. The huge environmental and social costs associated with coal usage make it an expensive option for developing countries. From acid drainage to

coal mines, coal pollutes and pollutes badly. Aside from CO2, burning coal also releases several types of emissions such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and heavy metals such as arsenic - a known carcinogen - and the neurotoxin mercury.

Fly ash samples taken from coal fired power plants in the Philippines and Thailand over the course of the last three years have shown the presence of such hazardous substances such as mercury and arsenic. Laboratory and technical analysis indicate that a far greater amount

of these toxins is likely being released to the environment and thus pose huge risks to population centers. Mercury is capable of causing severe brain damage in developing fatueses, tremors, mental disorders and death. It is so toxic that it takes only 1/70^th of a teaspoon to contaminate a 10.11 hectare lake to the point that fish caught in the lake are considered unfit for human consumption.

Severe social impacts such as displacement and disintegration of communities as well as losses in traditional livelihood, employment and ways of life such as small scale agriculture and fishing are created by the operation of the coal industry. Investors, financiers and developers of coal plants frequently promise widespread, sustained employment and the improved state of well-being for communities. The reality is, work remains scarce among communities hosting coal plants while large numbers of households remain without electricity despite the presence of the dirty humongous power stations. In addition, from

the point of extraction, coal mine workers are at great risk of death, injury and illness while local communities suffer from land degradation and pollution and are many times forced to relocate.

Coal plants do not improve the state of our people but slowly poison the health and social fabric of communities. It is unacceptable that we continue to suffer the harmful effects of coal-fired power plants and the impacts of climate change with the knowledge that alternative, environmentally friendly energy solutions are widely available and readily deployable.

Nature offers a variety of sustainable energy options. Combined with energy efficiency measures, renewable energy derieved from sources such as wind, solar, wave and geothermal power provide efficient, reliable ways in which to generate the energy we need on the scale that is required. Wind power, for instance, is the world's fastest growing energy source, with installed capacity growing at an average annual rate over the last five years of almost 16 percent. Wind energy can provide more than twice the expected world energy demand in 2020.1 On the other hand, the total amount of energy irradiated from the sun to the earth's surface is enough to provide more than 10,000 times the annual global energy consumption.2 Implementing these solutions will not require humans to make drastic sacrifices or otherwise impede their quality of life. Instead, it will enable people to usher in a

new era of sustainable energy use, one that will bring economic growth, jobs, technological innovation and environmental protection.

We will continue to fight and resist the existence of coal-fired power plants in our communities. We will continue to oppose the entry of dirty energy in our communities. We will not silently suffer the consequences of coal. We refuse to accept the current state and source of profligate, wasteful energy consumption. Solutions are available to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. The time to embrace clean renewable energy is today.

Our collective strength, bolstered by the successes among communities in embracing renewable energy alternatives, urges us to double our efforts in pushing for clean renewable energy solutions. We do not need coal-fired power plants in our communities. We need renewable energy.

We demand:

  • All nations to take immediate action to protect our communities and the well-being of our planet by phasing out coal and switching to renewable energy and energy efficiency beginning not tomorrow but today.
  • Governments to set legally binding, ambitious, time-bound targets for the massive uptake of renewable energy.
  • All governments to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and for signatory countries to ensure that the protocol develops and expands rapidly so as to provide more assistance to developing countries who desire to avoid passing through dirty energy options but who lack the means to do so.
  • Industrialized countries to commit to 80% greenhouse gas emission cuts by 2050.
  • Financial institutions to stop funding fossil fuel power projects, particularly coal-fired power plants. In particular, financial institutions should:
    1. Implement greenhouse gas emissions accounting for all the projects it has financed.
    2. Follow the most recent environmental, social and sustainable development criteria when considering, or accounting for, dirty energy projects that it has financed or are considering to fund.
    3. Ensure that barriers for the uptake of renewable energy and energy efficiency are phased but in the soonest possible time.
    4. Ensure that an increase in investments for renewable energy commensurate to the urgency posed by climate change is realized.

There is no denying that countries such as the US and Australia - the biggest polluters both - are responsible for a gargantuan chunk of the problem. But far too easy is it to keep on laming others for the climate crisis threatening our shores. That we, too, must do our share is an understatement. The self-interest of Asia demands it. The abundance of renewable energy resources in the region warrants it. The future of the entire planet requires it.

Signed:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
Responsible Ilonggos for Sustainable Energy (RISE) Province of Iloilo, Philippines Cebu Alliance for Renewable Energy (CARE) Province of Cebu, Philippines Task Force Macalajar Cagayan de Oro City, Province of Misamis Occidental, Philippines Koalisyon ng mga Mamayan Kontra sa TIPCO coal fired power plant Mabalacat, Province of Pampanga, Philippines Negrosanons Against the Coal Plant (NACP) Province of Negros Occidental, Philippines People of Pulupandan Against the Coal Plant (PPAC) Pulupandan, Province of Negros Occidental, Philippines Concepcion Alliance For Renewable Energy (COALFREE) Concepcion, Province of Iloilo, Philippines Visayas for Renewable Energy (Vfree) Visayas Regional Coalition, Philippines Nagpakabana Naga, Province of Cebu, Philippines Toledo NGOs and POs Coalition Toledo, Province of Cebu, Philippines Banatenhons Against the Coal Fired Power Plant Banate, Province of Iloilo, Philippines Pinoy Kontra Coal National Coalition of NGOs and Communities against Coal Mudgee District Environment Group Australia Central West Environment Council Australia Anvil Hill Project Watch Australia Mae Moh Lampang Province, Thailand Bo Nok Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, Thailand Ban Krut Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, Thailand Map Ta Phut Rayong Province, Thailand Tubsakae Prachuap Khiri Khan Province, Thailand     

Sutji Rahaju Shinto
         
Indonesia    
         
Novita Merdiana Tantri
         
Indonesia    
         
Erni Ernawati
         
       
Indonesia    
         
Clear the Air
         
Hong Kong
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notes:
1)   Reuters News Service, February 11, 2005.
2)  Windforce 12 (2005) A blueprint to achieve 12% of the world’s electricity from wind power by 2020.
3) Solar Generation Report, Greenpeace and the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) 2001. hhtp://archive.greenpeace.org/climate/climatecountdown/solargeneration/)