Asia-wide protests slam gas expansion in the region, call on governments to hasten clean energy transition 

Climate campaigners held rallies in 13 cities in Asia today to protest against intensifying gas buildout in the region and to step up pressure on governments to accelerate the shift toward clean, renewable energy. Protests were held in Tokyo, Incheon, Mandaluyong, Jakarta, Chiang Mai, Hanoi, Dhaka, Delhi, Kolkata, Kathmandu, Lahore, Karachi and Colombo as part of the Asia-wide mobilizations for the Don’t Gas Asia campaign. The rallies were timed to coincide with the 56th Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Board of Governors happening from 2-5 May in Incheon, South Korea.

“Billions of dollars worth of projects are underway to expand liquefied natural gas terminals,  power plants and pipelines in Asia. We do not need these projects. They will create more problems, instead of solving the climate crisis and the energy crisis in the region because gas is as harmful as coal,” said Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) and Convenor of the Asian Energy Network.

“Through the Don’t Gas Asia campaign, we are sending the message to governments, banks, and corporations: Stop the expansion of gas and other fossil fuels! Phase out fossil fuel energy!  Rapid, equitable and just transition to 100% renewable energy!” said Nacpil. 

The rallies called out the ADB for continuing to finance gas projects despite its avowed commitment to support low-carbon transition in Asia-Pacific. They also called out the government of Japan and Korea for being among the world’s leading gas and LNG investors. Japan is one of the largest shareholders of the bank and holds the presidency of ADB while Korea hosts this year’s Board of Governors meeting.

“The message of people and communities is that gas expansion is toxic and unsustainable for Asia. It will not stave off the impacts of climate change in the region, nor secure our energy supplies to develop the region’s economies, despite what fossil fuel financiers and banks that support them, like the ADB, are telling us. It would lock us in fossil fuel emissions for years, slow down the clean energy transition, and lock out any potential of countries to attain energy security and sustainable development,” Nacpil added. 

Asia has more than US$350 billion of new gas infrastructure projects, triple the estimated investment for Europe, purportedly aimed at allowing economies including China, the Philippines and Vietnam to avoid burning more coal. 

“Fossil fuel companies, for their own survival, have been pushing gas as a transition fuel. Governments are building gas infrastructure to benefit these companies which will soon get stranded. Asia needs to be saved from this catastrophe as there is a concerted effort to even call this green,” said Sreedhar Ramamurthi of the Delhi-based Environics Trust.

Wanun Permpibul of Climate Watch Thailand called for a “rapid, just and equitable transition to 100% renewable energy” to tackle the energy crisis in Asia, as well as to deliver on climate goals. “Renewable Energy is the answer to ensuring universal access to clean and safe energy for women, communities and peoples of Asia, as well as addressing the climate crisis.”

“We need access to clean, adequate and affordable energy for people’s basic needs and for building just, resilient, and equitable economies.  We must also rapidly transition to renewables to keep global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius and save us from climate catastrophe,” said Ian Rivera, National Coordinator of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ). 

“Fossil fuels cause adverse environmental and health impacts, are subject to volatile prices, supply disruptions, and geopolitics. Fossil fuels are controlled by rich countries and corporations who are more interested in profits, instead of delivering adequate and safe energy for people’s basic needs,”  said Dwi Sawung of WALHI Indonesia.

Analysis finds that the current and planned expansion of LNG would increase emissions in 2030 to dangerous levels. Research also shows the use of fossil gas for electricity generation, heating in buildings, and industry contributed almost as much as coal power to premature deaths in 96 cities around the world in 2020. The largest component of fossil gas is methane, a potent greenhouse gas that is second only to carbon dioxide in terms of how much it contributes to global warming. 

Renewables-based electricity is now the cheapest power option in most regions. According to research, renewables are already the default option for capacity additions in the power sector in almost all countries and dominate current investments. Renewables are also the most readily-available and cost-effective way to provide 90 per cent of all decarbonisation by 2050 – that is, if currently installed renewable power capacity will be tripled by 2030.

“The recent floods in Pakistan point to the worst impacts of climate change on the country, yet, in recent times Pakistan has emerged as the 19th largest consumer of fossil gas in the world. As much as we hold successive governments in Pakistan responsible for promoting the use of fossil fuels and neglecting to address climate change, we also hold the countries and corporations of Global North responsible for driving climate change in our region,” said Farooq Tariq, General Secretary of the Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee.
The Don’t Gas Asia campaign is part of a global  movement against fossil gas expansion calling for rapid, equitable, and just transition to renewable energy. It is linked to the Don’t Gas Africa and Don’t Gas Latin America campaigns.

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