Thailand shows Earth Summit delegates how to do the job

Feature story - August 28, 2002
While world leaders at the Johannesburg Earth Summit give excuses for failing to act on climate change, Thailand is doing what Earth Summit delegates say is too hard - rejecting dirty energy in favour of clean renewable energy.

The Thai government delegation is on its way to the Earth Summit now, and will announce that the cabinet has decided to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement to address climate change. Meanwhile today the small Thai municipality of Bo Nok, in the province of Prachuab Khiri Khan, began the installation of a wind turbine to generate clean sustainable energy for their local temple with the help of Greenpeace Southeast Asia and an international crew from the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise.

The people of Bo Nok and neighbouring Ban Krut have been campaigning for the past 8 years against two massive coal fired power stations, totaling 2100 Megawatts proposed by foreign developers including the US energy giant Edison.

"Bo Nok does not want Edison's coal plant," said Charoen Wataksorn, leader of the Love Bo Nok group speaking on behalf of the community. "We want electricity, but not this dirty, polluting plant Edison wants to build. World leaders at Johannesburg do not know Bo Nok, but they should come and see that even a small community like ours can say no to coal. We want clean energy instead."

"We are not anti-development and we are not anti-Edison. If Edison came up with a proposal for a renewable power plant, we would embrace it," said Wataksorn. "Leaders at Johannesburg need to look at how development affects the whole community, not just at the financial interests of the multinationals and whether it makes a profit. After all, energy is being made for people to use."

Greenpeace also hung a banner on a billboard promoting the power plants, reading "Rejected by the people of Bo Nok".

Two of the "Filthy Three" nations trying to stop international action on climate change and ruin the talks on sustainable development at Johannesburg are behind the two coal plants. Edison's proposed 734-Megawatt plant at Bo Nok would run on coal from PT Adaron mine in Indonesia, which is owned by Australian company New Hope. The 1400 Megawatt Ban Krut plant, proposed by Union Power, Hong Kong Electric, Tomen and other Japanese corporations, would get 80% of its coal from Australia, with the remainder coming from Indonesia and South Africa.

"The technology that would be used at the plants in Bo Nok and Ban Krut would never meet the environmental and social protection standards in California, home of the Edison Corporation," said Greenpeace USA climate campaigner Mateo Williford, in Bo Nok. "Yet the companies involved would gladly spend two billion dollars on building these plants that would damage the climate, cloud the air, and choke the children of Thailand. Edison must abandon this dirty concept now."

"Thailand's cabinet has announced it will ratify the Kyoto Protocol. The USA, Australia and Canada must follow Thailand's lead and ratify the protocol instead of trying to obstruct action on climate change."

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 a growing demand for electricity, but it doesn't have to come from coal," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia climate campaigner Penrapee Noparumpa. "Coal is dirty, expensive and it damages the climate. It makes no sense to build new coal plants here in Thailand, when we could get 35% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020, even if current consumption doubles."

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.

"Rapidly developing countries like Thailand are going to be the first to feel the effects of climate change on agriculture, livelihoods and major ecosystems, yet the greenhouse pollution comes mainly from rich northern countries. They have to stop dumping this dirty technology overseas and instead help growing nations develop sustainably," said Noparumpa.

Today's wind turbine installation is 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.

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