Coal is one of the biggest source of energy for the Philippines as well as worldwide. And in the last decade it has been the fastest growing global energy source.
Coal energy has been actively pushed by transnational corporations, international financial institutions, international energy investors, and governments of both developed and developing countries including the Philippines – with the justification that coal is a cheap source of energy and is an important part of the strategy for ensuring “Energy for All”. In the past decade, especially in light of increasing awareness of and resistance to the dirty and harmful nature of coal energy – international financial institutions, energy investors and corporations and many governments especially those of coal producing countries are trying to sell the idea of “Clean Coal".
In the last 5 years, the Philippine government:
Approved the building of 17 new coal plants in addition to 15 existing coal plants, and 20 more are proposed.
Approved 21 new coal mining permits bringing the total number of existing coal mining permits to 60 coal mining existing permits
To all these we say:
The excessive burning of coal is a major contributor to the historical accumulation of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere and it is the biggest source of current global green house gas emissions. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), 45% or 14.2 gigatonnes of the total 31.6 gigatonnes of global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel combustion in 2011 came from burning of coal. The excessive concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from historical as well as current emissions is causing global warming and climate change.
Coal mining and combustion processes have serious toxic effects on the health of people and the environment. These in turn severely weaken resilience and undermine the capacity of people and communities to deal with the impacts of climate change.
Coal mining destroys forests, mountains and watersheds -- which has many serious consequences including the exacerbation of climate disasters.
“Clean coal” technology – or the use of circulating fluidized bed combustion system, emit four (4) times more coal ashes compared to ordinary coal plants. According to Environmental Protection Agency (EIA) of the US government, the risk of getting cancer is 900 times higher from coal ash exposure compared cigarette smoking.
The Philippine Energy Plan will power a “development” strategy that keeps our economy oriented towards global market demands instead of our peoples’ needs and keeps our doors open to plunderers of our natural resources. Meantime, majority of our people can barely afford the current electricity rates or are not even connected.
The new coal power plants to be built in SOCSARGEN region in Mindanao -- the 200 megawatt plant of Conal Holdings and the proposed 400 megawatts plant of the Alcantara Group -- are mainly intended to fulfil the 900 megawatts required by the Xtrata/Glencore mining project in Tampakan, South Cotabato to be fully operational.
The Philippine government’s “coal push” will lock-in the country to dirty and harmful energy and extend Philippine dependence on coal for at least the next 2 decades.
We, therefore call on the government to immediately implement a moratorium on all new coal plants and coal mining, pending a national review of energy options with civil society, scientific community and affected communities.