MYANMAR has been focusing on coal and large hydropower projects and is not on track to develop renewable energy sources, local and international civil societies said in a recent statement.

These projects can cause climate change and adversely affect health, biodiversity and local livelihoods, the organisations said.

Senior government officials recently started talks on producing power from coal, and some coal power projects are being planned in some regions and states.

According to the officials of the Ministry of Electricity and Energy, the country’s goal is to produce 30pc of its power from coal by 2030.

“The National League for Democracy should encourage renewable energy as an important part of the nation’s economy as laid out in its election manifesto.

“If the government really wants to be one with the people, they must prove their willingness to listen to the worries of the people before making decisions about energy development and national grid expansion,” Myanmar Renewable Energy Association chair U Aung Myint said.

Producing 10pc of the country’s power from renewable energy by 2030 is not enough and may lead to natural disasters, social conflicts and environmental damage, the groups said.

If Myanmar expects to provide sustainable energy without contributing to climate change, fossil fuels and large hydropower projects should not be considered, Hanna Hindstrom, campaign coordinator for EarthRights International, said.

Other points made by the statement:

• public participation is essential for a power distribution strategy that fulfills the requirements of the people;

• environmental-impact assessments with public participation are required for systematic implementation;

• if short-term and costly fossil fuel energy projects are considered, Myanmar people and the environment will suffer damage, as will the image of Myanmar as a net emission reducer in carbon capture and storage.

The ministry is revising Myanmar’s energy policy and comments have been sought from regions and state governments.

“Myanmar needs broad participation and openness regarding its energy policy. All stakeholders must be included, and it is also required to end closed-door bargaining or top-down decision-making,” Micro Kreibich of the Heinrich Boll Foundation said.

– Translation by Zaw Nyunt

Courtesy of Myanmar Times