International coal conference in Bali has environmentalists concerned

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Some of the Asian coal industry’s biggest players powwowed in Bali this week, much to the dismay of activists looking to protect public health and defend the island’s natural environment.

Billed as the “coal industry’s largest event,” the 24th Coaltrans Asia has convened in Bali from May 6 to 8 at the convention center at the Westin Resort in Nusa Dua.

Environmentalists like Greenpeace Indonesia, as you can imagine, are not on board with the conference and the country’s appetite for such ‘dirty’ energy.

“The coal sector is actually one of the dirtiest energies with the highest carbon intensity,” Greenpeace Indonesia Climate and Energy campaigner, Hindun Mulaika told Tempo in Denpasar on Monday.

“Indonesia is actually throwing down the red carpet for industry players and (coal) investors, making it continue to grow and grow.”

Whereas countries in Europe, North America, and East Asia have pivoted away from coal, Indonesia is moving in the wrong direction, fears the activist.

The timing of the Coaltrans Conference comes after the World Health Organization described the widespread public health risks of exposure to pollutants, citing a study finding that 90 percent of the world’s population breathe in polluted air.

Meanwhile, studies from Greenpeace International and Harvard University have found coal-induced pollutants can be linked to lung cancer, stroke, and respiratory illnesses.

“The government should side with the community rather the coal industry and soon switch to renewable energy,” Hindun said.

The issue is a timely one in Bali, with the government looking to expand the coal-fired plant in Celukan Bawang, West Bali.

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