A weekly update of news, commentary and resources on Mekong development projects, investment, EIAs and other development issues. We include a balanced and representative range of news and views from local, regional and global sources. The Digest reaches around 3500 key development professionals, government officials, business leaders and journalists.
A major new study warns that a planned cascade of hydropower dams along the Mekong River could cause “very high adverse effects on some of the key sectors and environmental resources in Cambodia and Viet Nam.”
Viet Nam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has just publicly released “Study on the Impacts of Mainstream Hydropower on the Mekong River”, also known as the “Delta Study.” The study used models to simulate various dam construction scenarios. And the results raise alarm bells for the over 60 million people who rely on the Mekong Delta for their livelihoods.
Thailand’s Energy policymakers recently announced plans to allow the private sector more access to promote solar power in the Kingdom. But restricting the program to just 100 MW of roof-top installations runs counter to emerging advice from within and experience from abroad, that solar power, and renewables generally are the way forward— not the large, unnecessary energy projects at home and in neighboring countries now driving Thailand’s energy policy.
At the core of this transition is debunking the myth of what’s known as base load: managing that minimal amount of power that is needed 24 hours a day to meet demand. Since electricity demand fluctuates hourly, with peak production in the afternoon when offices, air conditioners, and factories are in full operation, versus the wee hours of the morning when things are more cool and quiet, some power plants run all day long and others just supplement supply when electricity needs rise. Traditional fossil fuel plants have longtime been advanced to service this base load, and Thailand is no different. But techniques in demand management and the ability of solar in particular to meet the high demands during the day can reduce the need for these plants.
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.
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.”
As the world recognizes World Water Day, The Mekong Eye examines recent worrying news events that could threaten the Mekong River Basin.
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.
Some 196 square kilometers along Myanmar’s west coast is slated for transformation into a deep sea port and industrial estate unrivaled anywhere else in the region.
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.
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?
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.
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.