Climate activists urge Japan to stop financing coal in Matarbari

Climate activists across the globe urged Japan’s new prime minister Yoshihide Suga’s administration to stop building coal power projects in Bangladesh saying it would worsen the country’s climate crisis and destroy the livelihood of local communities.

Over a hundred climate activists from Bangladesh, India, Japan, the United Kingdom, Australia, the Philippines and Germany made the call in an online rally on Wednesday.

The online event was jointly organised by 14 climate and environment protection groups as a part of the Global Call to Stop Japanese Coal Finance in Bangladesh, says a press release.

At the online rally, activists demanded Sumitomo Corporation and other Japanese companies should immediately announce their withdrawal from the Matarbari Phase 2 project and address the issues such as compensation and livelihood restoration for affected communities of Matarbari due to phase-1’s development works.

They chanted in Bengali, English and Japanese, urging to stop investment in dirty coal energy in Matarbari. They demanded the authorities invest in clean renewable energy instead, says the press release.

A 1200 MW coal-fired power plant is now under-construction in Matarbari of Cox’s Bazar district, financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and implemented by Coal Power Generation Company Bangladesh Limited (CPGCBL). Japan’s Sumitomo Corporation is the co-sponsor and Engineering Procurement Construction (EPC) contractor of this project.

Although only 30 per cent of the project has been completed so far, Japanese companies and financial institutions are proposing to build another 1200MW power plant in Matarbari (Phase 2). The government has reportedly requested JICA to provide loan assistance to build Matarbari Phase 2 project.

The construction of the first phase of the project resulted in inadequate compensation, loss of livelihoods, poor safety standards for workers etc. It is also projected that the pollution from Matarbari power plants (Phase 1 & 2) would cause up to 6,700 premature deaths during its operational years, says the press release.