Noy hit for supporting coal plants
Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star) - December 1, 2015 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – President Aquino is facing criticisms for supporting the construction of new coal-fired power plants in the country even as he leads vulnerable nations in seeking global support in addressing the effects of climate change.

Gerry Arances, national coordinator of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, criticized the President for publicly supporting the use of coal plants, which contributes to the continuing increase in global temperature.

“The government remained deaf, mute and blind to the impacts of coal to the communities. The government was insensitive to the issues and problems that the people from different communities joining the protest caravan on coal are facing and would like to discuss with the government,” Arances claimed.

He also criticized Aquino and the Department of Energy (DOE) for shunning a dialogue with representatives from coal-affected communities prior to the climate conference in Paris this week.

“The dialogue was supposedly a venue to present our demands and propose solutions to address the issues and problems we are currently facing because of the coal projects,” said Benjamin Magan, president of the Sabang-Poocan Farmers and Fishers Association in Semirara, Antique, one of the major coal mine locations in the country.

31 coal plants underway

According to the Global Coal Plant Tracker, at least 31 new coal plants are in the development stage while another three have started operating since 2010. Eleven of those under development are in the construction phase, three have secured permits, 10 in the pre-permit stage and seven have been announced.

Carbon emissions from coal plants are considered among those that contribute a lot to global warming and climate change, the climate justice advocates say.

In an interview with BBC, Aquino defended the construction of new coal-fired power plants as the other choices, gas and renewables, are still not the best options for the country. He cited the lack of gas-importing facilities and the high cost of renewables.

“So what we’re trying to do is ensure that we have the most modern coal plants that are in existence,” he was quoted as saying.

But advocates stress that while coal is the cheaper energy option, the cost of its consequences – particularly in terms of disasters caused by climate change and of the impact to environment – should be taken into account.

“Coal has never been and will never be clean or cheap. The cost of coal on the environment and people’s health and livelihoods has never been taken into account when the government speaks of coal as a cheap energy option,” said Gina Lopez of ABS-CBN’s Bantay Kalikasan.

Sanlakas secretary-general Aaron Pedrosa expressed disappointment in the government’s continued support for coal when more countries are doing away with this.

“More coal-fired power plants are being built under this administration. The worst part is these coal projects are located within the peripheries of communities that are traditionally home to millions of Filipinos and are supported by rich ecosystems and biodiversity,” Pedrosa said.

AARON PEDROSA ACIRC AQUINO AND THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY BANTAY KALIKASAN BENJAMIN MAGAN CLIMATE JUSTICE COAL GERRY ARANCES GINA LOPEZ GLOBAL COAL PLANT TRACKER PLANTS
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