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Activists urge end to South Korean funding of Indonesia coal plants

[vc_row type=”in_container” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Hans Nicholas Jong is a Climate Tracker fellow at COP24. This article was originally published on Mongabay.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]

  • Activists in Indonesia have called on three South Korean financial institutions to withdraw their funding for new coal-fired power plants to be built in Java.
  • The plants will be part of a complex that is already the biggest polluter in Southeast Asia, whose proximity to the metropolis of Jakarta could put the health of 30 million people at risk.
  • The funding bucks a rising trend worldwide by governments and financial institutions to divest from coal projects and put their money in renewables instead.
  • Building the new plants also makes little economic sense in light of dire warnings that the world must completely end coal-fired power generation by 2050 to avoid a global temperature rise of more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/3″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]JAKARTA — Environmental activists in Indonesia have called on South Korean funders to withdraw their support for new coal-fired plants that they warn will be the most polluting in the Southeast Asian country.

The Suralaya power complex, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) west of the capital, Jakarta, already has eight coal-fired plants in operation, churning out 3,400 megawatts, or 18 percent of the electricity for the islands of Java and Bali.

The government plans to add two more plants, with a generating capacity of 1,000 MW each, as part of the infrastructure-centered economic development policy being pushed by the administration of President Joko Widodo.

Funding for the new plants, billed at $1.67 billion, will come from loans from the Export-Import Bank of Korea (KEXIM), the Korea Development Bank (KDB Bank) and the Korea Trade Insurance Corporation (K-sure).

Greenpeace Indonesia energy campaigner Didit Haryo said the group had sent an open letter appealing to the South Korean institutions to “immediately withdraw” their funding for the project.

“The impact of the new plants is too big and is very bad for their investments,” he said. “We’re urging them to think about investing their money in renewable energy projects instead.”

Greenpeace Indonesia also sent the letter to the South Korean Embassy in Jakarta; none of the recipients had responded as of Nov. 9, Didit said.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/3″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]

Pollution problem

The project’s South Korean connection comes from the consortium picked to build the new plant, comprising Indonesian state-owned contractor PT Hutama Karya and its South Korean partner, Doosan Heavy Industries and Construction.

The Suralaya complex is run by PT Indo Raya Tenaga, also known as Indonesia Power, one of the country’s few independent electricity producers. Indonesia Power and the contracting consortium signed the agreement for the expansion project on Sept. 10 in Seoul.

The complex is already the single-biggest electricity generator in Indonesia, burning through 35,000 tons of coal a day, and was built primarily to serve the steel mills and heavy industries nearby.

Because of its sheer output, Suralaya emits more nitrous oxides, or NOx, than any other power facility in Southeast Asia, according to satellite data analysis by Greenpeace. Nitrous oxides are a class of compounds that contribute to air pollution and harm human health.

The pollution from Suralaya is particularly bad because when the first set of plants came online in 1984, there were no regulations or technology in place to limit NOx emissions, Didit said.

“Even before the two new plants are added to the power complex, the Suralaya power plants already emit the highest level of NOx pollutants in Java,” he said.

Greenpeace’s analysis showed that pollutants from Suralaya travel as far as the Greater Jakarta area, which, with a population of more than 30 million, is the biggest metropolitan area in Southeast Asia.

“Imagine if two more units, each of 1,000 megawatts, are added,” Didit said. “It won’t just be the people in Suralaya who will be affected. People in Jakarta will also be affected, because right now the pollution from the existing plants already reaches Jakarta. So clearly the amount of pollution reaching Jakarta will be even greater.”

He said it should be clear to the South Korean institutions that their support for the Suralaya expansion project bore great risks.

“By continuing to finance coal plants in Indonesia, your institutions are committing our planet to extreme climate change and are also committing the citizens of Indonesia to death and illness as a result of air pollution from new coal-fired power plants,” the activists said in their open letter.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/3″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row type=”in_container” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” overlay_strength=”0.3″][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]Read the full article here. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]