Clean Coal – Eat Coal : Greenpeace busts the myth of Clean Coal.

Feature story - July 19, 2007
Greenpeace intervened at the ASEAN Forum on Coal (AFOC) meeting in Chiang Mai, to bust the myth of clean coal technologies that are being aggressively pushed by the coal industry as a solution to pollution and climate change caused by coal power plants.

Around 150 community members from Mae Moh (Lampang province), Wieng Haeng (Chiang Mai), Bonok, Thapsakae (Prachuab) and Greenpeace activists marched to the venue of a USAID sponsored seminar in Chiang Mai to promote coal. The US has refused to support mandatory reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions despite scientific evidence of the threats of climate change. The coal fired power plant of Mae Moh is considered to be the worst of its kind in Asia and has had adverse and irreversible effect on the health and environment of the local community. Greenpeace/Vinai Dithajohn

Around 150 community members from Mae Moh (Lampang province), Wieng Haeng (Chiang Mai), Bonok, Thapsakae (Prachuab) and Greenpeace activists marched to the venue of a USAID sponsored seminar in Chiang Mai to promote coal. The US has refused to support mandatory reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions despite scientific evidence of the threats of climate change. The coal fired power plant of Mae Moh is considered to be the worst of its kind in Asia and has had adverse and irreversible effect on the health and environment of the local community.

Coal for lunch? Greenpeace activists show coal dishes which were offered to delegates of a USAID ‘clean’ coal seminar in Chiang Mai. Around 150 community members from Mae Moh (Lampang province), Wieng Haeng (Chiang Mai), Bonok, Thapsakae (Prachuab) and Greenpeace activists marched to the venue of a USAID sponsored seminar in Chiang Mai to promote coal. The US has refused to support mandatory reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions despite scientific evidence of the threats of climate change. The coal fired power plant of Mae Moh, Thailand is considered to be the worst of its kind in Asia and has had adverse and irreversible effect on the health and environment of the local community.

If this forum finds it credible that coal can be cleaned it shouldnt have any problem swallowing the notion that coal can also be nutritious, said Jasper Inventor, Greenpeace climate campaigner, officially addressing the meeting of representatives of ASEAN Energy ministers. In a presentation that ridiculed the idea of clean coal, the main topic of the two day meeting, Inventor presented data on abundance of coal, calorific value of coal, statistics on world hunger and the failure of environmental regulations in arresting climate change.

If this pollution-free mineral could be harnessed to address climate change then we should equally apply our mental powers to use it to solve the problem of world hunger.  I am sure, given the promise of  all clean coal technologies being discussed  in this meeting, one day we will also have abundant and cheap clean coal for eating,  Inventor  continued.

Meanwhile, Mae Moh community members and civil society groups holding protests at the venue of the meeting, laid out an elaborate coal-buffet for the delegates lunch. The Lignite fired power plant of Mae Moh is considered to be the worst of its kind in Asia and has had adverse and irreversible effect on the health and environment of the local community.

Combustion of coal, like any other fossil fuel, produces carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) along with varying amounts of sulfur dioxide (SO2) depending on where it was mined. Sulfur dioxide reacts with oxygen to form sulfur trioxide (SO3), which then reacts with water to form sulfuric acid The sulfuric acid is returned to the Earth as acid rain. Emissions from coal-fired power plants represent the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions, which have been implicated as the primary cause of global warming. Coal mining and abandoned mines also emit methane, another cause of global warming.

The truth is coal is dirty and polluting from start to finish. Pretending it can be burned without consequences is as ridiculous as claiming it can solve world hunger. Clean Coal technologies, like washing coal, scrubbing emissions, low NOX burners, high thermal efficiency processes, carbon capture and storage are unacceptable and environmentally unaffordable end-of-pipe solutions. Coal is a leading climate killer.  Instead of spending money on untested technologies to clean it, investments should be shifted to tried and tested renewable energy

technologies to sustain Thailands economic growth and long term energy security, said Tara Buakasmri, Climate campaigner of Greenpeace.

Together with the Network of Farmers Movement, the Northern Thailand Mae Moh Occupational Patient Network, and the Wieng Heng Conservation Group and Healthy Policy Foundation , Greenpeace organized parallel meetings in Chiang Mai   to  assess Thailands Power Development Plan(PDP2007) and develop strategies to combat coal,  and include in the PDP, more renewable energy  targets, energy efficiency measures ,integrated resource planning and demand side management to ensure a sustainable energy future for Thailand.

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