A Victory in Borneo: Coal Plant Plans Scrapped

A small but important fight against dirty energy is won in the tropical island paradise of Sabah.

God it feels good to be able to follow up a plea for help with a message of victory. Our friends at share the news of the cancellation of a proposed coal plant in Sabah, a Malaysian state on Borneo.

Here's the background: The state and federal governments had released plans to build a coal plant in Sabah, near a strip of pristine beach between the island's incredibly biodiverse rain forests and the Coral Triangle, one of the world's most rich marine ecosystems.

Five prominent local NGOs formed the Green SURF coalition to fight against it. International allies like and petitions like this one on helped draw attention to the issue from around the world.

And this week, Green SURF announced the very exciting news:

A coalition of NGOs here has congratulated the State and Federal governments for finally putting a stop to a coal-fired power plant in Sabah.


Victory! Green SURF representative (and champion organizer) Cynthia Ong had more to say:

On behalf of the individuals, peoples’ movements, organizations and friends of Green SURF, we thank the Chief Minister and his State Cabinet for safeguarding our priceless natural heritage and strengthening Sabah’s role as an environmental trailblazer in the region....

We are here to stay and we are ready and willing to work with both the State and Federal governments in identifying and implementing solutions.


It may only be one coal plant in a world where new plants are being built every couple of weeks, but this isn't merely a symbolic victory. It's an example of the true power of grassroots organizing. It's a lesson on what local activists can accomplish by building alliances, reaching out for help wherever you can find it (even if it's on the internet or across the world), and telling the right story. We're celebrating today, thrilled for our allies who have ensured that their home will avoid the toxic fate that plagues coal-burdened communities around the world.

Photo: Green SURF

via Barry Schapiro / Twitter

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