WELL-RENOWNED BRITISH CLIMATE SCIENTIST URGES ALL TO STOP COAL MINING GLOBALLY

PRESS RELEASE | AUGUST 20, 2015
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Philippine Climate Justice Groups Press Anew for the Closure of Semirara The call for a moratorium on the opening of new coal mines and the extension of existing coal mines has now reached a global scale.

The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), comprised of 103 member organizations from different sectors across the nation, concurs with critically renowned scientist Nicholas Stern’s call to put an end to the burning of coal worldwide.

“Coal is not only the worst fossil fuel in terms of emissions of carbon dioxide, but also contributes worldwide each year to human illness and the premature deaths of millions of people from air pollution. When its true costs are taken into account, coal is far more expensive than its current
purchase price, and it is poor people who are most exposed and vulnerable to the impacts of air pollution and climate change,” said Stern.

Stern currently chairs the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and the ESRC Center for Climate Change Economics and Policy. “The failure by governments to price coal correctly represents a huge and unjustified subsidy of hundreds of billions of dollars
each year. The use of coal is simply bad economics,” he added.

This was in response to a move by the President of the Republic of Kiribati, Anote Tong, to put an end to new coal mines and to stop the expansion of existing mines worldwide. “The construction of each new coal mine undermines the spirit and intent of any agreement we may reach, particularly
in the upcoming COP 21 in Paris, whilst stopping new coal mine constructions NOW will make any agreement reached in Paris truly historical,” stated His Excellency Anote Tong.

Locally, the recent pronouncements are very timely in light of the current coal mining situation in the country. Climate justice advocates are dismayed as news of the lifting of the suspension of Semirara’s environmental compliance certificate (ECC) and their plans to expand are now
surfacing.

According to Ben Magan, President of Sabang-Poocan Farmers and Fisherfolks Association, “Ang ganitong desisyon ng DENR ay malinaw na pagwawalanmbahala sa buhay at kapakanan naming mga taga Semirara. Di lamang ito usapin ng kapaligiran kundi ng karapatan naming mabuhay sa isang malinis, ligtas at payapang komunidad. Sapagkat bukod sa mga insidenteng ito ang aming mga lupang tirahan at sinasaka ay nais na din kunin sa amin upang pagtayuan ng ng mga pasilidad ng minahan. (This decision by DENR is a clear manifestation of their disregard for the life and well-being of the residents of Semirara. This is not merely an environmental issue, but of our basic right to a clean, safe, and peaceful community. Aside from the recent incidents, our residential and agricultural lands are threatened due to the coal mines’ plans to expand.)”

The local diocese of Antique reflects this statement of opposition. “It was too fast for the government to lift the suspension, and we want to know the basis for their decision. If they were able to decide on the incident that fast, then we are also alarmed that the government will allow more mining operations in our province soon,” said Fr. Edionne Febrero, Antique DSAC Director and President of St. Anthony College.

Coal mining has been a particularly hot issue in Antique, where 96% of locally-produced coal is mined at the expense of the health and livelihood of the people and environment in Semirara Island. Only the suspension order by the Department of Energy (DOE) stands in the way of the resumption of the coal mine’s operations.

“We are not alone in the fight to end coal power plants and coal mining. Scientists, political leaders, and numerous faith groups have spoken against coal and its impacts. Both Semirara Mining & Power Corp. and our National Government will do well to heed their calls. While Semirara enjoys the many incentives provided by the government for coal investors and it’s resulting sizable profits, the people and the environment are dying and suffering due to their mercenary actions. They need to be sensitive and accountable to the needs of the people before anything else,” said Glenn Ymata, PMCJ Energy Program Officer.

PMCJ calls for the closure of Semirara and other coal mining sites in the country that are also responsible for the continuing operation of the 17 existing coal-fired power plants. We demand for a moratorium on coal mining permits and coal fired-power plants and their expansions that wreak
havoc on poor and vulnerable communities in the name of profit.

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