climate and energy working group urge ASEAN leaders to fight the
coal push, fight for sustainable and people-centered energy
November 13, 2017
QUEZON CITY – The
Southeast Asian Working Group on Climate and Energy, composed of
members of civil society organizations and people's movements across
Southeast Asia, denounced what they claimed to be an evident
collusion between leaders of ASEAN, East Asia, and the United States
of America, in their push for the coal agenda within the
climate-vulnerable region of Southeast Asia.
According to the Working
Group's head convenor Gerry Arances, huge corporations and developed
countries like the United States (US) and Japan, have zeroed in on
the region as an economy ripe enough for hosting a number of their
investments on the expansion of coal – an energy source long called
out by environmentalists and affected communities as the dirtiest,
most destructive energy source there is.
"The realities of
destructive coal have not stopped ASEAN, US and East Asian leaders’
ASEAN coal push," said Arances.
Arances said that ASEAN
leaders, sanctioning the increase of coal use in their local region
and welcoming more coal investments from across the globe, have
branded coal as the key to further ASEAN’s economic growth.
Meanwhile, according to
one of the Working Group's convenors, Glenn Ymata, the US and East
Asian countries, like Japan, ride on the ASEAN coal frenzy by
promoting more coal projects within the region, echoing claims made
by the region’s leaders that coal is the key to power development.
"Corporations in the
Donald Trump-led US have encouraged more coal mining on US lands.
Coal extracted from these lands are to be marketed as 'cheap and
reliable' energy for 'power-hungry' countries such as those in
Southeast Asia," explained one of the other Working Group's
convenors Atty. Aaron Pedrosa.
On the other hand,
corporations in a Shinzo Abe-led Japan have successfully pushed for
the Prime Minister to promote coal as the succeeding primary energy
source within and outside of the country, as explained by Center for
Energy, Ecology, and Development Legal Research Officer Atty. Avril
"Supporting the US’ Asian
coal push and building on its reputation as a
technologically-advanced society, Japan has recently peddled its
clean coal technology to ASEAN countries," said de Torres.
WALHI's (The Indonesian
Forum for Environment) Dwi Sawung stressed that the myth that coal
could be clean is threatening to further boost coal's status as the
region’s main energy source.
"We stress that clean coal
has time and again been debunked as a dirty lie. Clean coal is
currently too expensive, especially for the poorer countries in
ASEAN, and will take years before reaching a viable economic price,"
According to Dwi, even at
a competitive price, clean coal is inefficient with reducing the
emissions that traditional coal combustion releases.
"Clean coal’s air
pollution control technologies, while promising to capture hazardous
air pollutants released by coal, are merely stored in ash dumps or
unlined waste ponds that poison surface and groundwater," continued
Ymata states that these
setbacks of “clean coal” do not even begin to account for the
environmental degradation caused by all coal – whether “clean” or
not – during the rest of the coal life cycle.
"Even “clean” coal implies
environmental and social costs, taking into account the effects of
coal mining, preparation and transport," said Ymata.
"We denounce these coal
policies as an explicit and dangerous denial of the climate effects
of coal and the urgency of responding to the issue of climate
change," he continued.
"It is evident that the
aggressive coal push being fed to an already climate-vulnerable
Southeast Asia is nothing more than a crusade of corporate
interests," added Atty. Pedrosa.
According to Pedrosa, this
denial is poised to cost more lives from the people of a
climate-vulnerable ASEAN, in service of the few corporate interests
dominating the countries that insist on the proliferation of
destructive and outdated coal.
communities, environmental advocates, people’s movements and
organizations have repeatedly debunked the myth of coal as a
“cheap”, “reliable”, and “clean” energy source," said Atty. De
"The simple reality is
that coal as an energy source has long become a thing of the past.
It is irredeemable in the environmental degradation that it causes,"
According to Pedrosa, when
an increasingly warming world is on a race to reduce its emissions,
building new coal plants and developing technology to make coal more
palatable provide little environmental and economic sense –
especially in the face of abundant, more sustainable alternatives.
"There is already a
solution to meet the world’s energy needs without compromising the
environment," explained Atty. De Torres.
resonates with the people, especially the most climate-vulnerable,
is one that is powered by renewable energy sources," she continued.
"Unlike coal, renewable
energy is sustainable and clean of carbon emissions that doom us
into severe global warming. Renewable energy is also much more
accessible to the people – making it more inclusive and responsive
to the people’s developmental needs, instead of huge corporations’,"
said Dwi Sawung.
"It is only a matter of
whose interests our world leaders choose to serve," stressed Arances.
Arances said that the
Working Group denounced President Donald Trump, Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe, and other coal proponents for selling to
climate-vulnerable countries the dangerous myths that surround coal
which he claimed to have spelled and will continue to spell
countless deaths of climate-vulnerable people.
"We call for these coal
leaders to back off of Southeast Asia with their deadly coal
agenda," said Arances.
"We denounce ASEAN leaders
for colluding with rich coal proponents in promoting coal and
neglecting the climate-related suffering that has mired the nations
of their region throughout history," added Atty. Pedrosa.
The Working Group demanded
ASEAN leaders to stop using, investing in, and financing coal as a
means to power Southeast Asian economic development, to reject all
coal projects offered by the US, East Asia and other prominent coal
proponents, to use the Southeast Asian region’s moral and political
position as a climate-vulnerable region to call out and condemn
developed countries' coal push, and to demand from these countries
their equitable share in climate change mitigation.
Finally, the Working Group
also stressed on their demand to invest in renewable energy as a
path to a people-centric development, and to pursue a development
that, "resonates with the people from the ground instead of that
which only resonates with corporate and developed countries'