[Press Release] Renergy transformation now power for people! -PMCJ

Renergy transformation now power for people!
April 22, 2015

 

Quezon City, Philippines – On the occasion of the global observance of Earth Day, climate justice groups, non-government organizations and grassroots people’s movement launched today a year-long campaign that would intensify the push for REnergy Transformation or the shift from carbon and fossil-intensive energy systems to renewable system for peoples and communities.

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Calling their group as Power for People (P4P), they called on the public to support the Davao Declaration – the outcome of a three day national peoples conference on coal and renewable energy held in Davao City late last year. The Declaration opposes the construction of new coal plants and the coal mining activities citing environmental, health and climate impacts.

According to Dr. Renzo Guinto, Campaigner, Healthy Energy Initiative of Health Care Without Harm, “A lot of studies as well as our initial data from communities hosting coal operations reveal adverse health impacts such as increased incidence of respiratory illness, heart ailments and other diseases.”

Atty. Aaron Pedrosa of Sanlakas and head of PMCJ Energy Working Group added, “Environmental degradation and impairment to loss of biodiversity; contamination of aquifers and water stress; displacement of communities; decline in incomes due to loss of livelihood; desecration of cultural heritages areas as ancestral domain lands and human rights violation are the immediate consequences once coal mining operations and coal plants are allowed.

Philippine Movement for Climate Justice data show that at present there are 17 existing coal plants in the country consisting of 30 units of boilers. Far from tapping into renewable energy sources, as engendered supposedly by the enactment of the Renewable Energy Law of 2008, the group revealed that more coal projects are in the pipeline of which 14 plants (with 30 boilers) in Luzon, 3 (with 6 boilers) in the Visayas and 12 (with 23 boilers) in Mindanao are expected to go online by 2020. This brings the country’s total coal plants to 46 with 89 boilers. The government approved coal plants will also triple the existing capacity dependence on coal to 17,449.2MW from current 5,780MW.

“And all these projects face strong opposition from host communities. But the rabid backing of the PNoy government ultimately greenlights the construction of these projects, thus, marginalizing the welfare of affected communities.” said Pedrosa.

According to Mr. Roldan Gonzales, Executive Director of Gitib, Inc. one of the major convener of Earth Day protest action being held now in Ozamis, “As in the experience of coal-affected communities, the people are left in the dark and without sufficient information especially as to the impacts. This is true in Ozamis City where a 300MW coal plant will be built despite the clear lack of social acceptability. This is true elsewhere in the Philippines”.
Mr. Pete Maniego, Chairman of National Renewable Energy Board (NREB) echoes the growing outcry against the proliferation of more coal plants. “I am increasingly disturbed by the efforts of coal proponents to accelerate the construction of new coal plants after the Writ of Kalikasan against the Redondo plant was overturned by the Supreme Court. Almost every day, there are announcements of new coal plants to be constructed by big business, ostensibly to address the power crisis”, Maniego said.

“As pointed out by experts and based on the experience of other countries, coal plants will make the integration of variable RE sources like wind and solar very difficult. Coal-fired plants take several days to start when stopped. Moreover, coal plants typically last for more than 40 years. Thus the higher the coal plant capacities in the power system, the more difficult the integration of RE in the system. Ergo– more coal plants, less RE plants” Maniego added.

“All these are happening because right now local banks are throwing supports in these dirty projects, big banks like BDO, BPI, Metrobank and a lot more are funneling billions of pesos to make these projects a reality. There is currently a global campaign for the divestment from fossil fuels like coal and our local investors most especially banks must take heed of these developments before it is too late” added by Mr. Chuck Baclagon of 350.org East Asia.

Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) National Coordinator and lead convener for Power for People, Mr. Gerry Arances said that “All these coal plants are not intended to address the long-standing issue of power and energy access in the country.” There is still an estimated 22 Milliion Filipinos who are without access to electricity and the highest electricity rate in Asia, higher than Japan and the US which makes affordability a serious issue plaguing the power sector of the country. “These projects are mainly intended to power destructive projects like mining in Mindanao, and else where across the country, and reek huge profits at the expense to people’s health, environment, and the climate.

Continued greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel burning have been viewed as the leading cause for the climate crisis. Coal plants, proven to be heavy emitter of carbon dioxide, top the list of climate change inducing industries.

Mr. Gerry Arances further said, “As a country at risk, the urgency of the much-needed shift to renewable energy for the power needs of the population cannot be overemphasized. This transition is prompted not only by the recognition of the negative impacts of coal operations to host communities and the environment, but the pressing necessity to push for transformational adaptation in the face of climate change. The Philippines has been identified as one of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change.”

Arances concludes, “While the country’s greenhouse gas emissions are currently low, the government’s business as usual track that argues for more coal plants and coal production, and consequently tripling of emissions from coal plants to 51,108.32 Tons of CO2/yr. from the current 16,930.21 Tons of CO2/yr., will push the country’s emissions beyond our fair share on the global carbon budget needed to avert a 2-degrees warming. A clear betrayal of the Renewable Energy Law of 2009 and the principles of the Climate Convention. Our right to develop as a country cannot and should not be made a pre-text to pollute and tread on a dirty and harmful track heavily reliant on coal.”

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