Southeast Asian CSOs and Movements on the UK-Canada Powering Past Coal Alliance

WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, welcome the initiative of developed countries led by UK-Canada in the launching of the Empowering Past Coal Alliance. We note their reiteration of the need for countries of the world to fully decarbonize and that coal phase out by 2030 is a necessary and urgent first step for developed countries and 2050 for the rest of the world. We urge them however to phase out coal.way before these dates as we should see 100% renewable energy in developed countries by 2030 and developing countries before 2050. Coal has to phase out before this and other foasil fuels to follow soon after.

The announcement is a good sign of a global consensus on the reality of man-made climate change and the necessity and urgency of global action in mitigating and address the devastating and disastrous effects of climate change. Peoples of Southeast Asia share the hope that this statement will fast-track the drive to abandon the use of coal and fossil fuels, recognizing its historical role in global warming and its exacerbating effects on the deteriorating climate. The target to fully phase out coal in 2030 and consequently to fully decarbonize exerts the appropriate pressure on governments of the world to enact and implement policies retiring the use of operating coal-fired power plants, as well as discouraging the establishment of new coal projects and investing on it.

We reiterate the Southeast Asian peoples demand for the UK, Canada and other developed countries, including the US, EU, Japan, to raise their ambition further. We call for an immediate end to the financing of new coal power plants and coal mining projects in the region. At present, there are around more than 120GW of proposed coal plants in the region, and 90% of the global coal plant expansion in the Asian region. We urge governments of the Powering Past Coal Alliance to immediately stop and curb funding from both public and private finance from their countries to corporations, banks that are behind this massive coal build-up in Southeast Asia and in Asia in general.  In addition, we call for the delivery of climate finance to developing countries for the swift and just transition to 100% renewable energy for people and communities.

We also therefore call on the governments in Southeast Asia, along with other emerging economies in Asia to reflect this commitment in their energy and development policies, considering the present drive to increase the share of coal projects in the region. It is clear as day that coal-based energy will not power development in Southeast Asia. The rise of renewable energy alternatives seen in the unprecedented decrease in the cost of solar and wind technology provides an alternate path to clean and people-centered development, especially if these forms of technology are applied to service the immediate needs of vulnerable and energy impoverished sectors.

In the Philippines, as well as in other countries in the region, the competitiveness and viability of renewable energy sources can no longer be denied. Moreover, with the goal of decarbonization by 2030 on the horizon, new coal projects are in the inevitable danger of becoming idle and stranded assets which will be passed on to the citizenry through higher electricity cost and be an additional burden. The risks and hazards to the environment, livelihood, and health can no longer be externalized and carried by the very people most vulnerable to climate change. This is especially so, considering that the looming coal expansion in the region will lead to an estimated 55,000 deaths by 2030 if not abandoned. This terrible vision is even beyond the death and destruction to be brought about by typhoons, droughts, and other climate disasters in the region, which will only increase as the climate crisis continues to unfold. Slow onset effects of climate change and the vulnerability of Southeast Asian peoples will only be exacerbated if the threat of coal expansion is disregarded.

We further call on East Asian countries like China, Japan, and South Korea to back down on their financial and political support for coal in Southeast Asia. While some of these countries have already taken steps to retire and abandon coal in their own territories, they still play a large role in supporting coal and fossil fuel investments in the region. There must be a recognition that there is no longer any room for new coal anywhere in the globe, side by side with the common humanity being threatened by the continued environmental destruction owed to dirty energy, and the common yet differentiated responsibilities we all share as peoples of the world.

Lastly, we call on the peoples of the United States of America, as well as the peoples of other developed and industrialized countries, not to let elite and corporate interests hold hostage the climate and our future. In particular, we urge them not to allow Trump sabotage the ambition and the urgency we have already established as the order of the day. The reality of climate change is no longer up to debate, and the urgency of climate action must never be a matter of personal preference. The recent tragic experience of the United States and neighboring countries with devastating storms must be a testament to the truth that climate change does not discriminate: no one is safe from its disastrous consequences and no one should be exempt from the urgent demand of climate action.

Real climate action entails the commitment to upscale the level of ambition in our respective nationally-determined contributions, especially as at present, the collected efforts pledged by countries of the word will lead to a global average temperature of more than 3 degrees Celsius. This will certainly doom vulnerable peoples to massive loss of natural resources, starvation, climate-related disasters, and countless deaths. Real climate action entails embracing the urgency of reaching the target of keeping the world below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Anything less than the ambition would cost us our survival.

Climate change and real climate action is not a matter of opinion or taste. It is a matter of life and death. We, the peoples of Southeast Asia, are united in our call to hold developed and developing countries to nothing less than their fair share of climate action. It is time to abandon the coal-dependent development path. It is time to pursue a just transition to clean, people-centered development paradigm powered by clean, democratic renewable energy systems.

Our unity and commitment would trump adversity. Our shared ambition, our shared humanity, will trump all those who threaten our rights and survival.


Southeast Asian Peoples Working Group on Climate and Energy

Asia Climate Change Consortium (ACCC)

Greenpeace Southeast Asia

Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development

JATAM – Indonesia

WALHI – Indonesia

Climate Watch Thailand

Change Vietnam

GreenID Vietnam

Climate Reality Philippines

Center for Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED) Philippines

Sanlakas – Philippines

Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ)

Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (Solidarity of Filipino Workers)