Public urged to take big pol­luters to task


Peo­ple should help col­lect ev­i­dence as part of the at­tempt to bring big pol­luters in in­dus­tries to jus­tice, a fo­rum was told.

Tara Buakam­sri, coun­try direc­tor of Green­peace South­east Asia, said the Philip­pines, In­done­sia, Viet­nam, and Thai­land have faced many cli­matein­duced dis­as­ters for three decades, but in­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence, a time-con­sum­ing and costly le­gal process, and strate­gic law­suits against public par­tic­i­pa­tion are ob­sta­cles to lit­i­ga­tions.

“A court dropped a cli­mate change law­suit against a power plant in the north­ern part of Bali, the nat­u­ral habi­tat of dol­phins, be­cause there was not enough ev­i­dence. Only 30% of lit­i­ga­tions world­wide [1587 cases] have been suc­cess­ful,” he said.

Mr Tara said the study pointed out that about 100 com­pa­nies are re­spon­si­ble for 71% of green­house gas emis­sions, but cam­paigns only tar­get hu­man be­hav­iours such as us­ing cloth bags and non-plas­tic straws.

“We [public] should join hands to gather ev­i­dence and bring them [car­bon ma­jors] to jus­tice,” he said, adding that a Thai coal en­ergy com­pany is among the 100 car­bon ma­jors.

“While lo­cals are stripped of rights to nat­u­ral re­sources, cor­po­ra­tions are ac­tu­ally the real car­bon emit­ters. How can we step up le­gal ac­tion for a com­mu­nity-led po­lit­i­cal strug­gle?” he said.

He has been speak­ing to en­vi­ron­men­tal ad­vo­cates con­verg­ing at the Mekong-Asean En­vi­ron­men­tal Week con­fer­ence held un­der the theme of “en­vi­ron­ment, democ­racy, liveli­hood, and the re­gional in­ter­con­nec­tion” at the Bangkok Art and Cul­ture Cen­tre, which started yes­ter­day and runs un­til to­mor­row.

Un­der the theme, and amid po­lit­i­cal ral­lies oc­cu­py­ing streets in Thai­land re­cently, he told one par­tic­i­pant that he agreed the po­lit­i­cal tran­si­tion has cul­mi­nated in the con­cen­tra­tion of power and the for­ma­tion of what he calls elit­ist en­vi­ron­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions such as the Min­istry of Nat­u­ral Re­sources and En­vi­ron­ment.

Meanwhile, Pen­chom Sae­tang, the direc­tor of Eco­log­i­cal Alert and Re­cov­ery Thai­land (Earth), ad­dressed three pat­terns of ex­ploita­tion by de­vel­oped coun­tries: in­vest­ing in toxic in­dus­tries else­where, in­clud­ing Thai­land, con­ceal­ing data on pol­lu­tion, and ex­port­ing waste to de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.


Sit-down protest Stu­dents from var­i­ous schools led by a group which calls it­self ‘Bad Stu­dents’ hold an anti-govern­ment protest out­side Bodin­decha (Sing Sing­haseni) School in Bangkok.

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