Monday, 25 June 2012

Distinguished Energy Professor Daniel Kammen joins Sabah's Indigenous Peoples in the Fight for Clean Energy

Crossing the Papar River
Daniel Kammen, professor of energy at University of California Berkeley and LEAP board member, paid us a visit to discuss strategies in initiating Sabah’s progress towards a green economy.  Daniel’s Energy Resources Group (ERG) was a critical ally in building the campaign that led to the cancellation of a 300 MW coal plant in Lahad Datu. The discussions occurred in conjunction with the launch of the Southeast Asia Renewable Energy Peoples’ Assembly (SEAREPA) – a collaborative space to discuss and strengthen community-based renewable energy initiatives in the region.

In the spirit of supporting Sabah’s transition into community-based renewables, Daniel joined TONIBUNG, Green Empowerment and LEAP representatives in a trek through the Crocker Range rainforest.  The destinations were the micro-hydro powered villages of Terian and Buayan.  The micro-hydro power systems (5 KW and 10KW respectively), are owned, managed and maintained by the people of Terian and Buayan, and supported by community organizations PACOS Trust and TONIBUNG (Friends of Village Development). 

Daniel, Adrian Lasimbang of TONIBUNG and Gabriel Wynn of Green Empowerment at Irene Tani's house with the people of Kampung Buayan after community consultations
The two village communities are among several others who face relocation as a result of the proposed Kaiduan Dam.  The team was able to offer input on the campaign to halt the dam’s development by speaking to the Anti-Kaiduan Dam Task Force, led by Buayan’s own Irene Tani.  After dinner with the people of Buayan, more residents assembled to talk about additional renewable energy options for the village to supplement the existing hydro system.  

Daniel, Johan of Kampung Terian and Ginus, micro-hydro operator of Kampung Buayan with Buayan's Micro Hydro Turbine

Daniel and the team were quick to highlight the importance of Buayan continuing to take the lead in developing their community using renewable resources, and more importantly, to share their ideas and experiences with other communities.  They also stressed that the story of Buayan- both in terms of their struggle in opposing the Kaiduan dam, and in terms of their ability to take their village’s sustainable development into their own hands- needed to be told.  The SEAREPA will be one space where the voices of Buayan, and others like them throughout Southeast Asia, will be heard.

Making the last crossing home on the Papar River

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