Indigenous leader Sonia Guajajara speaks alongside Indigenas activists in a protest outside the COP25 Climate summit in Madrid, Spain, Monday, Dec. 9, 2019. A global U.N.sponsored climate change conference is taking place in Madrid. (AP Photo/Andrea Comas)

MADRID  - International activists gathered outside the venue of the Conference of Parties (COP25) climate change conference in Madrid to protest against the Japanese government's continued financing of coal plants in developing countries.

The protesters said as the global struggle against air pollution and climate change became even more urgent, Japan’s support for coal was a huge threat to the future of the planet and the people on it.

The aim of the protest was to encourage Japan to move away from financing coal "but instead finance renewable energy which is good for climate crisis and also good for the economy of places like South Africa where solar is cheaper than coal", said Jesse Burton, an energy and policy researcher at the University of Cape.

"We've done some research on the independent coal power producers programme on new coal power plants, Thabametsi and Khanyisa, we found that compared to a least cost energy pathway made up of wind and solar and fixable capacity, Thabametsi and Khanyisa would need subsidies of up to R28 billion over their lifetimes,"  she said, adding it was inappropriate for South African consumers to be subsidising Japanese investors.

Energy and policy researcher at the University of Cape Town, Jesse Burton (in black) said the aim of the protest was to encourage Japan to move away from financing coal to renewable energy. PHOTO: Brenda Masilela/African News Agency (ANA)

Sussane Wong from No Coal Japan said there must be a concerted effort  to ensure that Japan’s policies stopped supporting coal as a source of energy, and that it instead used its massive financial power to take advantage of the global transition to renewable energy.

"Right now, a fleet of new coal-fired power stations is in the pipeline across Asia, Africa and parts of the Middle East. In Indonesia and Vietnam alone, dozens of new coal power stations are under construction and planning," Wong said.

"The decisions taken in the next two years could determine if these plans go ahead, locking us into dirty energy for decades or whether investments are made in clean, renewable energy instead."

Police watch as activists from the international group called Extinction Rebellion sit blocking the street during a protest against climate change outside the COP25 Climate summit in Madrid. Picture: AP Photo/Andrea Comas

- African News Agency (ANA)