Southeast Asian CSOs meet with ASEAN leaders to demand a coal-free ASEAN

Civil society organizations registered their demand for a coal-free Southeast Asia in their meeting with ASEAN leaders today, where they discussed various issues of concern within the region, including the ASEAN’s stance on energy and climate.

This was following the protest action led by Philippine groups yesterday,  where hundreds protested the incoming coal expansion projects in Southeast Asia, despite the successive suspensions and cancellations of coal projects in the pipeline, and coal-fired power plant retirements across the globe.

“At present, Southeast Asia stands as an exception to the global trend of abandoning support for coal energy in favour of cleaner, more sustainable renewable energy,” said Center for Energy, Ecology and Development Convenor Gerry Arances. “We cannot have ASEAN leaders using the argument of the right to develop as an alibi for protecting the interests of the coal industry, whose emissions have historically contributed to the destruction of the climate, leading to extreme weather events which cause loss of lives, biodiversity and livelihood.”

Arances noted that this position is unacceptable given the status of Southeast Asian nations as among the most climate vulnerable countries in the world, and the immediate effects of coal use in spreading deadly chemicals in air and water resources, leading to fatal diseases and destruction of marine biodiversity.



Renewable energy can power development
Indonesian Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM) Coordinator Merah Johansyah expressed concern over the massive coal expansion set to occur in Indonesia, which currently has the biggest foreseen coal expansion in the region.

“In order to pursue economic growth, 9 thousand coal mining permits were released across 12 thousand islands, in order to produce over 400 million tons of coal per year, making Indonesia the the biggest coal exporter in Southeast Asia. This will leave thousands of mine holes without rehabilitation, endangering the lives and livelihood of citizens. In addition, coal-fired power plants totalling 35 GW are set to operate in our country, set to fuel further destruction of the climate.”

Southeast Asian groups denied the capability of coal in fuelling sustainable development, given the various externalized cost attached to coal use. They also expressed optimism with the drastic decrease in cost of renewable technology on a global scope, ushered in by massive investments from India and China.

“With the wave of technological advances and the significant falling price of renewable energy,  Southeast Asia is standing on a great opportunity to take advantage of its available renewable energy resources, to ensure better health and well-being among citizens, to protect the environment and to pursue clean development,” said Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance Coordinator Do Minh Tam of Green ID Vietnam.