ASEAN Energy Ministers condemn the region to a dangerous future; fail to address the issue of energy security and climate change

Feature story - August 8, 2008
Greenpeace today expressed outrage at the outcome of the ASEAN energy ministers meeting in Bangkok, that has committed the region to a dirty energy future driven by polluting fossil fuels and dangerous and expensive nuclear power.

Greenpeace activists protesting outside ASEAN Ministers of Energy Meeting (AMEM) meeting at the Intercontinental Hotel in Bangkok with the message “ASEAN Lead the Energy [R]evolution” . Greenpeace urged ASEAN energy ministers to demonstrate leadership and political will to commit to a future that is powered by clean renewable energy instead of trapping its member countries in the dirty, dangerous and expensive cycle of fossil fuel and nuclear technologies.

"The final communique from this crucial meeting lacks the vision to address the region's current energy and environmental crises and most importantly lack the sense of urgency to address climate change. If this meeting is the yardstick to address the greatest environmental threat we are facing today, our leaders have condemned us to dangerous climate change and a dirty, expensive energy future", said Tara Buakamsri, Campaign Manager, Greenpeace Southeast Asia. 

The most alarming outcome of the meeting is ASEAN's active promotion of the use of nuclear power, an unacceptable proposition in one of the world's most seismically and politically volatile regions. This clearly demonstrates the ASEAN's Energy minister's limited understanding of the dangers associated with nuclear energy and is neglectful to the welfare of the region's people. 

The citizens of ASEAN member states are among the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and yet, the region's leaders are also promoting coal, the primary climate killer, under the guise of "clean coal". Clean coal is a myth perpetuated by the industry to clean up its  dirty, carbon intensive image.

Sections in the ASEAN statements on renewable energy and energy efficiency fall way short of the minimum requirements for achieving the carbon emissions reductions to address climate change and promoting the clean energy solution. ASEAN again failed to show its commitment to the development of renewable energy by failing to set clear, binding renewable energy targets. 

ASEAN can cut its carbon dioxide emissions without jeopardizing economic growth. Only through utilizing its abundant renewable energy resources can Southeast Asia leapfrog over the polluting fossil fuel age into a low carbon future to achieve real energy security and address climate change 

"The business as usual scenario, is not an option for future generations. CO2 emissions would almost triple by 2050. The Energy Ministers need to reverse all decisions taken at this meeting and revisit the need to implement legally-binding target for renewable energies and introduce a renewable energy legislation to enable investments in renewable energy technologies. ASEAN member countries must provide strict and detailed regulations on how to implement renewable energy projects to minimize bureaucracy and avoid ambiguous interpretation for existing regulation." concluded Jasper Inventor, Greenpeace Southeast Asia climate and energy campaigner. 

Renewable energy can and will have to play a leading role in the world's energy future. For the sake of a sound environment, political stability and thriving economies, now is the time to commit to a truly secure and sustainable energy future-a future built on clean technologies, economic development and the creation of millions of new jobs.

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