village in Fed Rep of Micronesia – photo by tata_aka_T (source: Flickr Creative Commons)

In an unprecedented and audacious move to curb global greenhouse gas emissions, the Federated States of Micronesia – a small nation of islands in the western Pacific Ocean – have appealed against the refitting of a coal plant in far off Prunerov, Czech Republic. Prunerov – owned by the utilities conglomerate CEZ – is one of the largest coal-fired power stations in the EU and the largest single source of CO2 emissions in the Czech Republic. According to the Norwegian environmental NGO Bellona, the Czech plant emits 40 times as much yearly CO2 as the entire Federated States of Micronesia. Much like the Maldives and Tuvalu, Micronesia feels threatened by the impacts of climate change, particularly rising sea levels.

‘The Federated States of Micronesia is a small island state in the Pacific Ocean composed of 607 islands, of which 65 are populated and most of which are low lying atolls. As a result, it is a country deeply exposed to various effects of global climate change including rapid sea level rises, freak weather events or acute water insecurity. The Federated States of Micronesia lay to the west of the Marshall Islands and east of the Philippines.’


Though logically, the closure of one plant in the Czech Republic isn’t going to save Micronesia or any other island, the tactic of using local laws may offer some recourse in the fight to reduce global emissions, rather than relying on shaky international treaties like what was attempted in Copenhagen.

‘The failure of nations at the Copenhagen conference to agree to a timetable for a binding agreement on curbing climate change or to agree on a target for reducing emissions by midcentury appears to have lent new urgency to anti-coal campaigns.’

–New York Times

Despite wide support among environmentalists for the coal plant’s closure – including the Czech Republic’s chapter of Greenpeace – CEZ believes that the refitting of the plant in will lower emissions enough to gain approval from the Czech Ministry of Environment. On the other hand, if Micronesia’s attempt were to be successful, it would set a new precedent in international law and likely encourage similar actions as a way of combating global emissions.

Resources: – Micronesia challenges Czech coal plant extension

New York Times – A Pacific Island Challenge to European Air Pollution

Times Live – Micronesia takes on giant Czech power plant

UPI – Micronesia challenges Czech coal plant