ASEAN should Quit Coal to avoid climate catastrophe: Greenpeace

Feature story - June 23, 2009
Greenpeace today called upon the ASEAN countries to urgently phase out coal fired power plants and invest in renewable energy to avert a climate catastrophe, at the launch of its report “True cost of Coal” in Bangkok today. The report was released to mark the fifth anniversary of assassination of anti-coal activist Charoen Wataksorn, at Bo Nok, Prachuab Kirikhan province of Thailand.

Greenpeace, Thai Working Group for Climate Justice and community organizations from Maemoh-Lampang, Prachuab Kirikhan, Rayong and Chachengsao provinces discuss in a public forum about true cost of coal in Thailand at Social Research Institute of Chulalongkorn University. Greenpeace today called upon the ASEAN countries to urgently phase out coal fired plants and invest in renewable energy to avert a climate catastrophe at the launch of its report "True Cost of Coal" in Bangkok today. The report was released to mark the fifth anniversary of anti-coal activist Charoen Wataksorn, at Bo Nok, Prachuab Kirikhan province of Thailand.

"Coal is not cheap, the market price for coal ignores its most significant impacts. These so-called "external costs" manifests themselves in damages such as respiratory diseases, mining accidents, acid rain, smog pollution, reduced agricultural yields and runaway phenomenon of climate change that is threatening millions of lives in the ASEAN region." said Tara Buakamsri, Campaign Manager, Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

CO2 emissions from the use of fossil fuels account for more than half of all current greenhouse gas emissions and their share will increase by 2050 if no action is taken. ASEAN countries need to rethink their strategies on the way they use, produce, store and distribute energy that substantially reduces greenhouse gas emissions.  

Greenpeace believes that the most important elements for emission reduction potential in the energy sector are reduced energy demand by improving energy efficiency; increased deployment of proven renewable energy technologies; rapid phase-out of coal-fired powered plants and replacement by solar, wind and geothermal energy. Implementing this revolution in the energy sector can provide, by 2050, an emission reduction equalling 37%of global greenhouse gas emissions in 1990.

"We need a green new deal for the climate which will deliver immediate economic benefits, reduce the risk of catastrophic climate change and reduce sources of global instability such as energy insecurity and resource competition. At present there are at least 2.3 million "green'" jobs in the renewable energy sector, but by 2030 that number could grow to over 20 million. It is clear that a short term stimulus could produce both short term employment and long term benefits to the economy. With the right policy and investment decisions, there is a huge potential for achieving deep emission reductions, both in the short- and the long-term." concluded Tara.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia together with Social Research Institute of Chulalongkorn University, Thai Working Group for Climate Justice and community organizations from Maemoh-Lampang province, Prachuab Kirikhan, Rayong and Chachengsoa provinces are also organizing a public forum to discuss more about true cost of coal in Thailand and other ASEAN countries.

"The relentless expansion of the coal industry is the single greatest threat to averting dangerous climate change. Coal is the most climate-polluting fossil fuel, responsible for one third of all CO2 emissions, and is projected to increase to 60% of emissions by 2030. "Clearly, quitting coal will benefit not only the climate, but also reduce the other impacts which everybody else has to pay for." said Sureerat Taechusakul of Anti coal community of Tap Sakae, Prachuab Kirikhan.

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