SOS from Borneo: Say No 2 Coal!
This issue is still urgent as the government of Malaysia has not given a final decision to reject the building of a coal-fired power plant in Sabah, Malyasian Borneo. The location is at the edge of the "Coral Triangle". These waters are the home for 75 percent of all known coral species, more than half of the world’s reefs, 40 percent of the world's coral reef fish species, and six of the world’s seven species of marine turtle. The possible irreversible damage that a coal-fired power plant could have on this marine zone is unfathomable! Not to mention the coal-fired plant will also be adjacent to Tabin Wildlife Reserve, the habitat of 40 remaining Bornean rhinos. So we are at a critical time...enough time to change the course of events, but no time to waste. Global attention at this time is urgently needed. We feel strongly, that the Prime Minister will be affected by and will respond to a global petition urging him to reconsider this decision. He has the opportunity to be a hero in the region by deciding against coal and for alternative energy.
We are therefore shocked by your support for plans to build a 300MW coal-fired power plant in Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, a location that is ecologically unique, home to 75% of all known coral species and more than half of the world’s reefs, vulnerable coastal communities, and neighbor to some of Sabah’s most precious ecosystems. Lahad Datu is a gateway to both the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, which serves as an oasis for large numbers of threatened and endangered animals (including the last 200 some remaining Sumatran rhinos!), and to Danum Valley, largely recognized as one of the world’s most complex ecosystems. The Sabah government has begun the process to nominate neighboring Maliau Basin, one of Borneo’s most pristine and important habitats, as a World Heritage Site.
A coal-fired power plant in this area would be catastrophic for the most vulnerable and precious of our ecosystems, and any new coal plant in Malaysia will undoubtedly undercut your efforts to build a low carbon economy. In every case to date, coal has proven effective at supplying cheap energy, but at the expense of human health and longevity, biodiversity and power diversification. And if this coal-fired power plant is built, we know that more will follow and the once pristine wilderness and coral reefs will be subject to degradation and loss.
We know that Sabah’s energy needs may be met with alternative renewable energy options at a competitive price, with less environmental impact, much lower emission of greenhouse gases, and better fuel security for Malaysia. The study Clean Energy Options for Sabah presented in March 2010 by some of the world’s leading energy experts gives detailed recommendations on how to meet Sabah’s energy needs without the construction of the coal-fired power plant. It puzzles us as to why these reports and the alternatives they recommend have not been taken seriously.
Adding a 300 MW coal-fired power plant in Sabah makes a 40% national cut in carbon emission intensity impossible without cuts in other areas nationally that are simply not seen as possible.
If Malaysia halted construction of this coal-fired power plant it could be a tipping point for the region and the world. You have the potential to influence our joint futures on the planet. Datuk Seri Najib, we cannot avert our eyes from the basic fossil fuel facts, or the consequences for life on our planet of ignoring these scientific facts. If we continue to build coal-fired power plants, and in ecologically sensitive areas such as Sabah, we will lock in future climate disasters associated with passing climate-tipping points.
As a steward of your country and of this earth, we ask you to decide wisely for our children and for our children’s children. The developing world does not need to repeat the damaging mistakes of the developed world, which now requires immense resources to repair; the developing world can lead the way for the world into the 21st century and beyond, and Malaysia has strong potential to blaze that trail. Tell us what you need to build Malaysia’s clean energy economy and we will stand beside you. We urge you to stop all plans for a coal-fired power plant in this treasured area on Borneo island!