Greenpeace blocks coal shipment, calls on G8 to quit coal

Press release - May 23, 2008
Greenpeace’s ship the Rainbow Warrior today blocked coal shipments at the Pagbilao coal-fired power station in Quezon province, 150 kilometres southwest of Manila, protesting the power plant’s planned expansion. A giant banner on the ship's masts reading "Quit coal" urged the Philippine government to stop building and expanding coal-fired power plants.

As the environmental ministers of the G8 - the richest industrialised countries in the world - assemble in Japan to discuss solutions to climate change, Greenpeace calls on them to follow the lead of the Governor of Albay Province, Joey Sarte Salceda, who on Wednesday declared Albay a coal-free zone: "We believe there is no place for coal in a world beset by climate change and certainly there is no place for coal in Albay," he announced.

 "The G8 Countries need to realise that more coal is not the solution to the energy issues we face. If a developing country like the Philippines can do it, wealthy, developed countries, like the G8, can certainly do without new coal fired power plants and instead build up an efficient and clean energy system. Greenpeace's ' Energy Revolution' shows this can be done," said Jasper Inventor, Climate and Energy Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Burning coal is the single biggest source of CO2 emissions, and a major cause of global warming. The Philippines being an archipelagic developing country composed of more than 7,000 small islands is highly vulnerable to current climate risks as well as future climate change. (1) Changes in weather patterns will mean more frequent cyclone devastation, mudslides and droughts. Rising sea levels threaten low lying islands. Last year the country was identified by the NGO Germanwatch as the nation most affected by climate change. (2)

The Philippines has 54 percent more electricity generating capacity than it needs, but rather than investing in resolving the problems in the electricity grid, which mean this capacity is lost, the government proposes new coal-fired power plants and the expansion of existing plants.

"The Philippine government should take Albay's declaration as an urgent call to action against climate change. It is untenable to continue our dependence on coal given its increasing price in the market and the environmental impacts attached to it. Coal will actually exacerbate our energy insecurities. The Philippines should send a strong message to ASEAN countries to lead the way in phasing out the use of coal. Greenpeace is also calling on developed countries to provide assistance to developing countries, like the Philippines, to help fight climate change," concluded Jasper Inventor.

The Rainbow Warrior is in the Philippines to spearhead the Greenpeace "Quit Coal Tour" in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. The tour aims to promote solutions to stop climate change -- an energy revolution away from the use of climate-damaging coal, and a massive shift to renewable energy.

Other contacts: Beau Baconguis, Campaigner Manager, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, +63 91 7803 6077Lea Guerero, Media Campaigner on-board the Rainbow Warrior, +63 91 6374 4969Beth Herzfeld, Media Relations, Greenpeace International, +44 (0) 7717 802 891

VVPR info: Greenpeace International Photo Desk +44 (0) 7801 615 889Greenpeace International Video Desk +31 646 16 2015

Notes: (1) Research by Dr. Leoncio Amadore, one of the Philippines’ foremost meteorologists, showed that the Philippine archipelago has already suffered severely from extreme weather events. His report ‘Crisis or Opportunity: Climate change impacts and the Philippines,’ indicates that from 1975 to 2002, intensifying tropical cyclones caused an annual average of 593 deaths and damage to property of 4.5 billion Philippine pesos (around US$83 million), including damage to agriculture of 3 billion pesos (around US$55 million).(2) Germanwatch's Global Climate Risk Index, 2008