Greenpeace occupies proposed Philippine coal station site (Updated)

Feature story - 13 June, 2008
Greenpeace activists from different countries, including the crew of the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior, and members of Responsible Ilonggos for Sustainable Energy (RISE) have established a "climate defenders camp" at the site of a proposed Philippines coal plant coal in Iloilo.

Greenpeace activists construct a "climate defenders camp" at the site of a proposed coal plant coal in Iloilo City.

They are demanding the cancellation of the plant. They are also calling on the Philippine Senate to fast track the passage of the Renewable Energy (RE) Bill, which has already been passed by the House of Representatives, to pave way for ambitious renewable energy development in the country making any notion of new coal redundant.

Update - 15 June In an unprovoked attempt to disrupt the camp, workers from the Panay Power Corporation (PPC), acting under ordersfrom management, tried to dismantle the camp tower whileGreenpeace climbers were still on the structure and could have been injured.Later the workers fenced in the Camp tower with bamboo poles andtarpaulin, cutting off the Greenpeace activists.

The harassment happened in the presence of local Police, Barangayofficials, and PPC management. It began at 1:30 PM today, as 20Greenpeace volunteers and some representatives from RISE (ResponsibleIlonggos for Sustainable Energy) were hosting a gathering with around20 townsfolk from Bgy Ingore, shortly after a solidarity activity,where Greenpeace volunteers and community folk planted symbolicwindsocks at the camp site.

Read the full update here, or see Mareike's blog entries on Making Waves here and here.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has given strong backing for the construction of the 165 MW coal plant, even though it will contribute to climate change and contaminate local communities.

"A coal plant does not and must not have any business in Iloilo nor the Philippines anymore. We want clean renewable energy to power the development of the city and our country. The entire Western Visayas should be made a development model for renewable energy," said Melvin Pursuelo, the convener of RISE.

On Wednesday, the Philippine House of Representatives passed the Renewable Energy Resources Act, which seeks to promote the development, utilisation and commercialisation of renewable energy in the Philippines. The passage of the Act is a significant milestone in a country where community opposition to coal power plants is surging due to concerns about climate change and pollution.

Recently, leading political figures have also voiced strong opposition to coal plants, backed our call for the country to "Quit Coal" and supported clean renewable energy developments. The governor of Albay province, an area recently hit by disastrous typhoons and mudslides, has declared the province a coal free zone, in addition to Negros Occidental which has already adopted a path towards a 100% renewable energy. Meanwhile, Senators Miguel Zubiri and Pia Cayetano expressed support for our "Quit Coal" campaign and a shift to renewable energy.

"The Senate must pass the Renewable Energy Bill. The present situation demands that the government quickly and radically improve energy efficiency, deal with the problems of energy distribution and develop the renewable energy market. We have to do it now while the country sits on 54 percent over-capacity for electricity generation and a huge renewable energy potential. The threat of climate impacts to the entire country should be enough to spur the government to mitigate and adapt, starting with the cancellation of new coal power plant projects," said Jasper Inventor, Climate and Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

A new study has revealed that the Philippines has a renewable energy potential of more than 200,000 MW from a combination of geothermal, wind, solar, biomass, and mini-hydro - more than five times the country's current energy demand. Most of the renewable energy potential is yet to be tapped because of the absence of an investment and development framework and delays by the Arroyo government in passing the Renewable Energy Bill.

The Rainbow Warrior is in the Philippines to spearhead the Greenpeace "Quit Coal Tour" in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. We aim to promote an energy revolution to stop climate change, which includes phasing out the use of climate-damaging coal and rejecting nuclear power, and calls for a massive uptake of renewable energy.

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