South Korea's green pledge contradicted by Indonesian coal plant
November 24, 2020
Asia

South Korea’s green pledge contradicted by Indonesian coal plant

SURALAYA (INDONESIA) – State-run Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) has confirmed it will introduce two more 1,000 megawatt units to the complex in Suralaya. Residents are apprehensive that it will further increase water and air pollution in the area.

This announcement was coming a month after the launching of South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s “Green New Deal”, which included loose pledges to end support for coal, at home and overseas.

The Java 9 and 10 units will be built and maintained by Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction Company. It has received a nearly $3 billion bailout from South Korean state banks and institutions this year.

Greenpeace says the $3.5 billion expansion project could lead to at least 1,500 premature deaths during the typical 30-year lifespan of a coal-fired power plant. It will also affect the air in Jakarta, a city of 10 million people.

Many residents in Suralaya worry that the expanded coal complex will bring alive decades of pollution, which has been a concern for the village since the power complex began operating in 1984.

The Indonesian government and KEPCO say the new coal units will use the latest technology to reduce pollution. However, local residents are sceptical.

“I’m also scared but what can I do?” said 51-year-old street vendor Sarwati, who sold her tofu salad and peanut sauce on a tourist beach before relocating to the centre of town after the most recent expansion of the Suralaya plant in 2011.

“I can only pray and believe in God to protect us.”

“EMPTY PROMISE”

Analysts have also questioned South Korea’s commitment to climate change, given that it has a lead role in the expansion of Suralaya plant.

“It seems that the Korean government’s Green New Deal is just an empty promise,” said Julien Vincent, executive director of Market Forces, a climate lobby group.

“They have decided to continue supporting overseas coal finance without fully considering the implications on Korea’s reputation overseas and our shared climate.”

KEPCO investors, including BlackRock, have questioned the company supporting new coal plants. KEPCO asserted that climate change is one of its prime concerns, adding that the proposed Indonesian project meets the environmental standards set in South Korea.

Germany’s Siemens will also supply equipment to the project. A company spokesman said moving out of coal investments did not include projects where it already has obligations, based on the contract.

Singapore bank DBS is one among those funding to the project, according to two sources, which refused to comment.

Climate finance experts have given warning that if regulations are passed to counter CO2 emissions, plants such as the one in Suralaya may have to shut down even before the repayment of debts.

KEPCO said in a statement that it found that the pre-feasibility study passed by the project was profitable.

(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field.

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