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Coal Industry Deliberately Puts Planet in Peril

Coal Industry Deliberately Putting the Planet in Peril Balinese firewalkers carry globe over coal to protest against industry’s crimes against the environment.

Bali, Indonesia, – Environmentalists from Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth today condemned the coal industry at the CoalTrans Conference 2003, the largest gathering of coal barons, branding them as climate criminals. Balinese firewalkers carried a globe over coal to symbolize how coal endangers the earth and humankind. Burning coal is the world’s main carbon emissions source and is therefore causing a huge threat to the climate and the planet. The activists unfurled a banner in front of the conference venue saying “Coal Climate Killer, Switch to Clean Energy”. They demanded that the international coal industry phase out its dirty polluting business and put serious investments in clean renewable energy.

“The irresponsibility of the coal industry is despicable. The impacts of climate change on Indonesia and other Southeast Asian nations will be disastrous yet the industry continues to deepen the region’s addiction to coal,” said Nur Hidayati, Campaign Manager of Friends of the Earth, Indonesia.ii Sea level rise from 1925-1989 ranged from 7.83 mm/annum in North Sumatra, 4.38 mm/annum in Jakarta, to 9.27 mm/ annum in Central Java. A rise in 60 cm is expected to result in the loss of 3.4 million hectares of which 800,000 hectares are irrigated rice fields in Indonesia alone.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has pointed out that developing countries like Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand are expected to suffer most from climate change in terms of loss of life and effects on the economy. An Asian Development Bank (ADB) study, for instance, cites that Indonesia will incur annual losses of $11.3 billion because of anticipated rising sea levels. Under a best- estimate scenario, the ADB said that incidence of dengue in Indonesia is also anticipated to increase threefold.

Greenpeace had earlier called on the industry to phase out coal in the opening session of the global coal conference due to the grave threats that climate change poses to the developing world. The delegates, however, ignored the facts on climate change.

“Despite knowing the impacts of burning coal on the climate, the coal industry continues to talk of expanding sales and new markets. The coal industry is deliberately putting the world in peril, an attitude we consider criminal,” said Red Constantino, energy campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Greenpeace has accused the industry of causing the heaviest damage to the climate, burning some 3.5 billion tons of coal annually and accounting for 40 percent of world’s carbon emissions. However, in a high economic growth projection, global coal consumption is expected to grow almost 50% in 2020, with China, India and Mexico projected to register staggering increases.iii China, whose coal consumption in 2000 was over 24 % of the world total, is projected to increase by 108% in 2020; India by 64% and Mexico by 120%. International Energy Outlook 2003, US Department of Energy, May 2003.

Southeast Asia is rich in alternative renewable energy sources. Indonesia has proven reserves of about 20 gigawatts of geothermal power, while the Philippines has an estimated 70,000 megawatts of untapped wind energy potential. In Thailand, over one third of the country’s electricity demand could be met by a mix of biomass, mini-hydro, solar, wind and geothermal.

1 Sea level rise from 1925-1989 ranged from 7.83 mm/annum in North Sumatra, 4.38 mm/annum in Jakarta, to 9.27 mm/ annum in Central Java. A rise in 60 cm is expected to result in the loss of 3.4 million hectares of which 800,000 hectares are irrigated rice fields in Indonesia alone.

2 China, whose coal consumption in 2000 was over 24 % of the world total, is projected to increase by 108% in 2020; India by 64% and Mexico by 120%. International Energy Outlook 2003, US Department of Energy, May 2003.


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