Vietnamese campaign warns of nightmarish coal future

A future built on coal is a dark and dystopian nightmare, according to a new anti-coal campaign launched by environmental groups in Vietnam.

The new photo campaign is called “I Can’t” and it features popular Vietnamese actors, musicians and artists wearing gas masks, performing before a devastating backdrop of smog, societal breakdown and climate change devastation.

NGOs question China’s dam release

One week ago, China doubled the quantity of water released from the Jinghong Dam along the Mekong River in Yunnan province. This came two days following Vietnamese officials meeting in Beijing to request the increase due to severe drought conditions and low flows in the Mekong Delta. But at a press conference in Bangkok yesterday, representatives of Thai civil society and communities denounced the action as destructive and insincere.

“No one doubts that people in the Vietnamese Delta may be suffering from salt water intrusion due to low Mekong flows this dry season,” said Montree Chantawong from Towards Ecological Recovery and Regional Alliance (TERRA), “But these additional dam releases can’t really help them, yet are hurting many of us.”

Vanishing Roots

In Cambodia’s Northern Prey Lang forest, one of the last remaining evergreen forests in Southeast Asia, a community is organizing itself to preserve its roots, traditions, and protect the land to which it belongs.

Eye On: Baht Beyond Borders

With public opposition to major infrastructure projects a growing concern, and willing partners in neighboring countries eager to pick of the slack, Thailand’s industrialists are fanning out in all directions. Energy projects dominate the mix, including coal, gas and hydropower. As a result, it’s the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand driving much of the activity.

Post-Paris: Journalism Climate in Bangkok Remains Mild

As the enthusiastic narrative from the Paris climate change agreement of last month continues, conversations with Thai journalists offer a cautionary data point that may resonate beyond this society of sixty million.

“Other than the words climate change, the fundamental issues behind it, actions to address it have really not been much of a concern to the Thai people,” says Paritta Wangkiat of Bangkok Post, the only Thai journalist to cover the Paris talks. “At best it’s a trendy slogan to deploy when discussing unusual weather patterns. But there is a serious lack of commitment from policy makers and society including media organizations to take part in the global effort to reduce CO2.

Some 6,000 journalists worldwide applied for accreditation, and facilities were available to service 3,000 at one time, but not many from the Mekong region?

Coal Power on the Rise: Mekong Region Digs In

While initiatives by the Asian Development Bank, ASEAN, United States, Japan, France and the private sector aim to advance renewable energy within the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), coal-fired power plants are slated to become an increasingly larger share of the region’s electricity generating portfolio.

Laws lie at the heart of dam conflicts, says new book

Academics and NGOs in the Mekong region welcome a new book that sheds light on the significance of the evolution of legal frameworks in overpowering historical social dynamics of river communities to sustain their livelihoods and culture.

Exploring conflicts surrounding hydropower development in the Lower Mekong region the authors of The Mekong: a Socio-Legal Approach to River Basin illustrate the growing barriers laws and policies that were never a part of these communities’ cultures, and which they had no role in shaping, lie at the heart of controversy surround dam projects from the moment that are proposed.

Faces of Dawei, Faces of Change

Dawei is a seaside community of less than 5,000 families, in one of the world’s least developed corners. Myanmar’s ever widening borders, however, have lured investments here on a scale beyond anything ever conceived within Southeast Asia.

The Dawei Special Economic Zone environs nearly 200 square kilometers of industrial development, a deepsea port and associated road, rail and pipeline links to neighboring Thailand and beyond.

Photojournalist Taylor Weidman captures the faces of Dawei as they they contemplate what lies ahead. Will their fisheries and betel nut farms still provide viable livelihoods? Will new jobs actually be available to them and their children or largely to higher skilled prospects from abroad? Will environmental controls be sufficient and sufficiently enforcement to protect the community, and the natural resources that now sustain it?