groups to Japan: “Say Sayonara to coal”
November 16, 2017
QUEZON CITY –
Environment advocates and members of people's movements marched to
the Japanese Embassy to demand a stop to Japan’s Asian push for
Led by Sanlakas, the
Center for Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED) and other groups,
they denounced Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's promotion of
fossil fuels and so-called “clean coal” to power ASEAN nations'
growing economies. According to the groups, profit-seeking Japanese
coal companies are riding on the ASEAN drive to further expand its
economy by peddling dirty coal-sourced power as fuel for economic
According to Center for
Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED) Legal Research Officer Atty.
Avril De Torres, Japan has been making strides in securing and
financing coal projects across Southeast Asian nations amidst the
ASEAN and East Asia Summits.
De Torres cited Japanese
company Marubeni Corporation’s recent concession contract with the
Vietnamese government to build the new 1,200MW Nghi Son 2 coal-fired
power plant in Vietnam. She also claimed that Japan is currently the
biggest public financier of the Asian coal power plan – leading
other major countries such as China, Korea, and Germany.
According to De Torres,
the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) has been making
huge investments in the Asian coal expansion, financing, most
recently, Vietnam’s Nghi Son 2 coal-fired power plant and
Indonesia’s Cirebon 2 coal-fired power plant.
“Japan persists in its
push for more coal in the region amidst peoples and civil society
organizations’ plea to cease carbonization,” said Atty. De Torres.
“Vietnam and Indonesia –
two of the most climate-vulnerable countries in Southeast Asia – are
forced to host more Japan-backed coal. Indonesia’s Cirebon 2, for
instance, has recently received Japan’s coal finance despite court
revocation of its environmental permit,” added De Torres. Sanlakas
Secretary-General Atty. Aaron Pedrosa slammed Japan Prime Minister
Shinzo Abe’s aggressive campaign for coal, including the “clean
coal” push, claiming that it is mired with lies about the true
impacts of coal.
“‘Clean coal’ is an
oxymoron and a dirty lie. Coal simply cannot be scrubbed clean of
the long history of suffering it has caused on the people and
environment,” said Sanlakas Secretary-General Aaron Pedrosa.
Pedrosa cited 960 annual
premature deaths found to be due to coal emissions in the
Philippines alone, along with other economic and social issues
stemming from the coal industry. He claims that “clean coal” has
little difference with traditional coal.
“‘Clean coal’ technologies
still produce the same damaging amount of emissions and pollution.
Their only difference with traditional coal is that they are more
expensive for the countries that can’t afford them,” said Pedrosa.
“Far from being a tool of
development, any and all coal expansion within the region ensures
profit only for the few coal companies, and traps climate-vulnerable
regions like Southeast Asia into further poverty and climate
change-induced suffering,” he continued. According to Pedrosa, the
energy demand of Southeast Asia’s economic development must not be
met through the use of dirty fossil fuel energy, given the losses
that coal’s environmental impacts entail.
“Whatever semblance of
economic growth Southeast Asia currently enjoys will be undone by
the climate change effects of continuous fossil fuel burning,” said
De Torres stated that
severe global warming caused by the increase in coal burning
significantly affects the region whose large proportion of the
population and economic activity are concentrated along the
coastlines and whose livelihood depends heavily on agriculture.
“Projections of climate
change-caused economic losses in Southeast Asia include a decline of
up to 50 percent of rice yield potential by 2100 and a loss of 6.7
percent of combined gross domestic product (GDP) each year by 2100,”
said De Torres.
Pedrosa stressed that
Japan’s coal push is regressive instead of spurring genuine
development. “If a technologically advanced society like Japan truly
cared for the development of the Southeast Asian peoples, it must
divest from all support from coal and instead put its money and
expertise on sustainable and accessible sources of energy like
renewables,” stated Pedrosa.
De Torres highlighted
renewable energy’s steady trend of decline in costs, citing it as a
manifestation of renewables’ increasing viability as the next energy
source after an obsolete coal.
“Southeast Asia is ripe
with renewable energy sources, like solar and hydro, which the most
climate-vulnerable of its people have easier access to. Compared to
a coal-backed economy, development that is founded on clean and
sustainable energy is development that is sustainable and
resilient,” said De Torres.