New research shows hydropower in the Mekong region will become far less sustainable as droughts force countries to rely on coal and gas power plants, driving up carbon emissions and electricity costs. The findings present a problem for Mekong countries’ dam building plans, as hydropower appears far less green and less reliable than other renewable sources.
The Mekong’s normal flow can be restored if large volumes of water are consistently and reliably released from Chinese dam reservoirs. However, China’s water policy shows Beijing is unlikely to change its behavior and the worst for the Mekong is yet to come.
New research shows that in 2019, Chinese dams on the Mekong River trapped nearly all of the river’s flow, causing the record-breaking drought that still plagues the region. The new findings confirm what natural resource advocates have said for years: that local experts and communities must have control over their water.