Greenpeace: coal industry gathering in Bali deepens climate threat

Feature story - May 31, 2007
Greenpeace slammed CoalTrans, the largest gathering of coal producers and users in Asia starting this Sunday in Bali, for promulgating the myth of ‘clean coal’ and aggressively pushing false ‘end-of-pipe’ solutions that will do little to avert catastrophic climate change.

Greenpeace activists in traditional Balinese costume greet Coaltrans delegates at Nusa Dua, Bali with a banner proclaiming Coal Kills Climate . Coaltrans is the largest annual gathering of the coal industry.

Greenpeace activists in traditional Balinese costume greet Coaltrans delegates at Nusa Dua, Bali with a banner proclaiming Coal Kills Climate. Coaltrans is the largest annual gathering of the coal industry.

Greenpeace activists in traditional Balinese costume greet Coaltrans delegates at Nusa Dua, Bali with a banner proclaiming Coal Kills Climate . Coaltrans is the largest annual gathering of the coal industry.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) emission from coal fired plants is one of the main contributors to the human-induced phenomenon of climate change. The international environmental campaign group calls on world's governments to instead joint the energy revolution fueled by renewable energy and energy efficiency in order to ensure energy security and avoid the dire impacts of climate change.

"Clean coal and cheap coal are big industry lies. Coal carries huge costs in the form of severe pollution, climate change and the displacement of local communities. Coal is artificially cheap only because the great bulk of these costs are passed on to taxpayers (1)," said Red Constantino of Greenpeace International at a media briefing in Jakarta. "This does not have to be so. Clean, sustainable energy alternatives are widely available, the world cannot hope to meet its sustainable development goals it persists on deepening its dependence on coal."

The global scientific community led by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Fourth Assessment findings this year that warn of catastrophic consequences if global warming reaches 2°C. Reaching or surpassing this temperature threshold, the IPCC predicted millions of people will face increased flooding, tens of millions will face the increased risk of hunger, hundreds of millions will face increased risk of malaria and billions will face the increased risk of water shortage. Above 2°C, whole ecosystems in Asia face the risk of total collapse even as rising sea levels brought about by rapidly melting ice sheets threaten to inundate low-lying countries such as Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Burning of coal produces about 9 billion tones of CO2 annually, 70 percent of which comes from power generation. Asia's emissions represent nearly one-quarter of global greenhouse emissions, compared to its previous one-tenth share. This is due to the steep increase in the region's energy consumption, which grew by 230 percent in the period between1973 and 2003, compared to the average 75 percent global increase (2). Coal produces 41.93 percent of Asia's CO2 emissions.

"Clean coal and cheap coal are big industry lies. Coal carries huge costs in the form of severe pollution, climate change and the displacement of local communities. Coal is artificially cheap only because the great bulk of these costs are passed on to taxpayers."

Red Constantino

Greenpeace International

"The Indonesian government has announced that coal will replace oil in the next ten years to meet its domestic energy demands and the Indonesian coal industry is bullish about its export potential, at a time when the world has no choice but to reject this climate killer," said Nur Hidayati, Climate and Energy Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

"Given the extensive impacts of coal on the global climate, the gathering of coal pushers in Bali could only be described as a meeting of climate criminals. Every dollar spent on coal is a dollar diverted away from energy efficiency and renewable energy - the real energy solutions. With proper investment of US$60 billion a year, renewable energy alone can produce 58 percent of Asia's electricity demand by 2050. Indonesia can lead the Southeast Asia region towards real sustainable development only if it leaves behind coal," Hidayati added.

In December, Indonesia's island of Bali will host the United Nations climate change conference that is crucial to the next phase of greenhouse gas emission cuts under the Kyoto Protocol. 

Notes to editor: (1)A study recently conducted on the BLCP coal plant (an Asian Development Bank-financed coal plant in Thailand) showed just how massive such costs are. The BLCP plant, which has begun operating this year, will release nearly 12 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually for the next 25 years, causing Thailand's carbon emissions to rise by almost 6 percent per year. According to ExternE, a European Commissions study, the external costs of the BLCP coal plant amounts to over US$1.6 billion annually, an amount that will be shouldered not by the coal company but by Thai taxpayers. (2)Greenpeace Climate Hypocrisy paper released in Kyoto, May 2007.

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