Triumph for PH fight for Climate Justice: Coal Projects in PH Pipeline, Derailed

July 07, 2021
Triumph for PH fight for Climate Justice: Coal Projects in PH Pipeline, Derailed

The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), along with other climate justice groups, triumph over confirmation of derailed coal projects in the country’s pipeline. As per PMCJ research and data, about 13 coal projects worth 7,628 Megawatts (MW) of installed capacity have been stalled and cancelled from the pipeline.

Ian Rivera, National Coordinator for PMCJ, notes that the Philippine coal project pipeline now stands crushed over years of pressure and resistance from local communities and climate justice groups. He states that these projects “can no longer continue as odds have long already been stacked against it - the climate, finance and market. This huge cancellation of coal also signals that the Philippine Energy is now at the crossroads – a challenge to Philippine Government to review the Philippine Energy Plan towards an immediate shift to RE and prevent another supply instability by 2024.There is just no way for another fossil fuel – fossil gas to take the high road or else we will face with a supply crisis. An energy transition with fossil gas / Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) is dirty, deadly and costly”.

Communities speak

“Derailed coal plants manifests the rejection of communities of these dirty, deadly, costly energy”, said Crisanto Palabay of Koalisyon Isalbar ti pintas ti La Union. Palabay affirms that their group in La Union will continue to resist the proposed 670MW Luna Power Plant to be put up in their area.

Fr. Raphael Tolentino, former parish priest of the Nina Maria Parish in Sariaya, Quezon, echoes Palabay’s sentiments that the fight belongs to the people, expressing his thanks for the community at the margins who stood firm with the Sangguniang Bayan ng Sariaya in fighting for these coal plants’ delistment. “Maraming salamat sa paninindigan ng mga mamamayan ng laylayan at sa pakiki-isa ng Sangguniang Bayan ng Sariaya.Isang tagumpay para sa Inang Kalikasan”, Fr. Tolentino said.

Derec Cabe of the Coal-Free Bataan Movement expresses that the delistment is the triumph of the communities that sacrificed to protect the environment from dirty businesses and corporations--”This is evidence that coal is obsolete in every aspect--both as investment and as energy source. It is high time to decommission all the other plants that have yet to be decommissioned, and transition towards more sustainable sources of energy”, Cabe said.

Chito Trillanes, Co-Convenor for Palag na! Mindanao, states that the cancellation of coal-fired plants are fruits of communities’ labor and action against fossil gas. “Ito ay paglalarawan ng buhay na prinsipyo na nakalatag sa ating Konstitusyon na ang tao ang tunay na pinagmumulan ng kapangyarihan ng gobyerno. Itong tagumpay ay tagumpay hindi lamang ng mga tao sa mga nabanggit na lugar, kundi tagumpay sa lahat ng mga taong nagnanais ng mura, ligtas, at malinis na pinanggagalingan ng ating enerhiya. Ngayon at kasama sa binanggit na tatlo ay napigilan din ng mga mamamayan ang mga planta sa Davao Occidental, Davao del Sur at Misamis Occidental, sana ay maipagpatuloy pa natin ito sa buong bansa. (This is the illustration of how our principles are very much alive, and that the constitution proves that the People hold power over the government. This triumph is a triumph not only for the areas that these communities fought for, but also for everybody who longs for affordable, safe, and clean energy. As Davao Occidental, Davao del Sur, and Misamis Occidental are part of those mentioned in the official list of derailed coal plants, we wish for the derailing of all coal plants left in the country) .

Struggle continues

But the fight against fossil fuels in the Philippines is far from over. While other statements took reference of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) delistment of coal projects in the PH pipeline, PMCJ, alongside grassroots, community and peoples movements stress that the credit belongs to the campaigns, communities, and collective work of climate justice groups that led to the delistment--it is the long period of these plants getting stalled and derailed that necessitates the action.

Atty. Aaron Pedrosa, Sanlakas Secretary-General and Co-Chair for the PMCJ energy working group, emphasizes the administration’s complicity in allowing these coal projects to make its way into the PH pipeline, stating that “these coal projects are defunct not only because of non-compliance with environmental laws and standards, but also of the persistent denial of global realities in terms of stranding of coal assets, shift to renewables and responding to the imperatives of an ever destabilized climate. “Coal projects should not have been allowed in the first place if the Philippine Government through DENR, DOE and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) had taken the EIS process seriously. If it had taken the Paris Agreement seriously. If it had considered the economics of coal seriously. Its complicity has trapped consumers and affected communities in a tedious and vicious cycle of allowing corporations to do as they wish with the country’s energy system.”

The derailed projects now open up possibilities for the government to completely transition from coal and fossil-fuel powered energy, into more renewable sources. As of now, climate justice groups such as PMCJ continue to push for a complete transition out of the Philippines’ current deadly, dirty, and costly energy mix. As the country faces the Climate Crisis, the administration must aim to be more swift and meticulous with persecuting fossil gas projects that go against the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) system, and take into account creating a transition plan in accord with our commitment to the Paris agreement.

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Martina M. Herras
PMCJ Communications