Australia playing dirty tricks in pushing Coal on Thailand

Feature story - August 30, 2002
Living up to its name as one of the "Filthy Three" nations trying to block action on climate change, Australia is playing dirty tricks trying to get Thailand and other developing countries locked- into a future based on greenhouse-polluting coal energy, according to the report "Citizen Coal", launched today in Thailand.

The report, published by Greenpeace and the Mineral Policy Institute, available in both Thai and English, examines Australia's coal exports to developing Asian countries. It shows how Australia is locking developing countries into an energy future dependent on coal, one of the most greenhouse-intensive fossil fuels. At the same time, Australia refuses to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and uses the excuse that its not fair for Australia to sign up when its Asian neighbours do not have targets to control emissions. Thailand's cabinet announced this week that it would ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

"Australia is hooked on coal and now it is pushing its habit on its developing neighbours," said Frances MacGuire, Greenpeace Climate Campaigner speaking in Thailand. "In Australia 90% of electricity comes from coal, one of the reasons why Australia produces the most greenhouse pollution per person in the developed world."

"It's pure hypocrisy that Australia won't ratify the Kyoto Protocol but meanwhile wants to lock Thailand into a future reliant on fossil fuels, regardless of the damage it will do to local people's livelihoods and the climate. Instead of dumping dirty fossil fuels on Thailand, Australia should be exporting clean energy technologies such as wind and solar."

"Citizen Coal" also examines the role of international financial and aid bodies, such as the World Bank, the Asia Development Bank and the Australian Agency for International Development, which have all supported fossil fuel power projects in Asia.

Residents of Ban Krut, where foreign companies are proposing to build a 1400 Megawatt coal-fired power station which would be powered with Australian coal, have campaigned against the project since it was first proposed eight years ago. Today, with the help of Greenpeace Southeast Asia and an international crew from the Arctic Sunrise, residents began the installation of a wind turbine, to generate clean sustainable energy for street lamps. Greenpeace also flew a banner from a para-sailer reading- "Clean Energy Starts Here."

Greenpeace is calling on the Thai government to reject the two plants, which have been delayed a further two years, and instead adopt a national policy to support sustainable, clean energy.

"Thailand has the chance now to go down the path of clean electricity without relying on fossil fuels," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia climate campaigner Penrapee Noparumpa. "We do not need more power stations in Thailand. Research show that we could get 35% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2020, even if current consumption doubles. Thailand needs clean energy now."

Greenpeace is calling on governments at the Earth Summit to make a commitment to provide affordable renewable energy to the two billion people around the world who live without electricity, to phase out all subsidies to fossil and nuclear fuels, and to ensure that 10% of energy is provided by renewable resources by 2010. Greenpeace is also seeking a commitment that international financial institutions move 20% of their energy investments to clean, renewable energy.

The "Citizen Coal" report and wind turbine installation are part of the Greenpeace Choose Positive Energy tour of South East Asia with the ship MV Arctic Sunrise. Throughout the tour, the ship's crew, the staff from the Greenpeace office of Southeast Asia and other Greenpeace offices have worked with local communities in Thailand and the Philippines to fight the development of dirty, polluting energy and promote clean renewable energy.