Reclaim Power for the People Not Emergency Powers
The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) along with other organizations launched the Philippine-leg of the Reclaim Power week – a global convergence of efforts to raise the urgency of transforming energy systems away from dirty fuels and towards a public and community-controlled alternative energy systems.
Spearheading the activity is the recently established Power for People (P4P) – a national campaign network composed of people’s organizations, electric cooperatives, lawyers and members of the academe from different parts of the country coming together to address issues in the energy sector by advancing alternatives.
“The Reclaim Power is a global effort on climate justice by demanding serious, deep and drastic emissions reduction globally,” said Gerry Arances, National Coordinator of PMCJ and the lead convenor of P4P Campaign Network. “Reduction can only be possible if all people and communities unite to ban dirty energy projects and fight for clean and democratic alternatives.” Arances added.
The Reclaim Power Global Week of Action on Energy will include a series of activities running from October 10 to 18 – the highlight being consolidated actions all over the country against coal on October 17.
On October 10, there will be a mobilization against the World Bank to protest against its continued financing of dirty and harmful energy. Another activity that will take place during the Reclaim Power week is an action on waste incineration which is another major concern for environmentalists and communities in the country.
“Different waste-to-energy incineration technologies are being peddled these past few years as a co-fuel if not an alternative altogether to coal. However, the US Environmental Protection Agency, found that compared with source reduction, reuse and recycling, waste incinerators contribute far higher levels of greenhouse gas emissions throughout their life-cycles,” says Paeng Lopez of the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, an member organization of PMCJ.
The Power for People network is a means for concerned organizations and individuals to advance their campaign against coal-fired power plants and to demand that the government ensure the utilization and development of renewable energy.
Communities do not want coal
Clint Pacana, Executive Director of the Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AMRECO) and member of P4P said, “These initiatives include holding our own government accountable for its push for coal fired power plants and repeated display of skepticism towards renewable energy. Like in Mindanao, instead of rehabilitating the Agus-Pulangi Hydropower Complex to ensure the continued enjoyment of low cost electricity, the government is pushing for its privatization along with the increased number of coal fired power plants in the region.”
Reflecting the misaligned direction of the government with its energy policy and voicing out the demands of the people in the community is Juliet Borlon-Aparicio of Tanggol Kalikasan, Inc. who said, “Sa halip na pagkalulong sa maruming enerhiya galling sa coal, dapat na pagtuunan ng pansin ng gobyerno kung paano magagamit ang mga potensyal na mapagkukunan ng renewable energy sa aming probinsya.”
The government has approved the construction of a new 1, 250MW coal plant in Atimonan in addition to the expansion of 875MW to the existing 1,195MW of the Pagbilao and Mauban coal plants.
Atimonan is one of the stop overs of the People’s Walk for Climate Justice. While the climate walkers are on their way to the major stopping point, a forum that discusses the ill effects of a coal plant is being held today in the community which will host the hazardous project.
When asked about the group’s take on the energy crisis and the request for emergency power by the President, Atty. Jose Aaron Pedrosa of Sanlakas had this to say, “The President’s declaration of a power crisis by 2015 is a situation conjured precisely by the government’s policies on the energy sector with the EPIRA as its face. The people cannot simply expect the grant of emergency power to provide a solution to a crisis that was borne out of the same law.” Sanlakas is the head of PMCJ Energy Working Group and a member of Power for People.
The real power crisis that has beset the country for more than a decade is the continuing lack of electricity access of more than 2.5 million households, sky-high electricity rates, market manipulation and pollution of big power player and the control of the power industry – from generation to distribution – by a few corporations.
“To address the real energy crisis would require an overhaul of EPIRA and the abandonment of the government’s privatization paradigm,” Pedrosa added.
“All these efforts – the People’s Walk for Climate Justice, the formation of Power for People, the series of activities for the Reclaim Power week and all the other future activities are part of the people’s demand for climate justice. We want the President to walk his climate talk as a contribution to the global effort to avert catastrophic climate change,” Arances said.
Kathryn Leuch, PMCJ Energy Campaigner, 0936 9678 341
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