“Can the Philippine cockatoos provide electricity? No, I don’t think so.”

Clean Energy Palawan

This is how some people justify an environmentally-critical project--with an utter disregard for endangered species, more so for biodiversity. In such instances, I can’t help but wonder what kind of beings we have evolved into. Who are we to decide who/what gets to live and who/what dies? Who are we to decide that the wants of the few – especially the business sector – must take precedence over the needs of the many – not to mention, the underprivileged?

In my opinion, the conflicts, grief, distress, and threats to biodiversity that surround the issue regarding the proposed coal-fired power plant in Palawan are all unnecessary, because Palawan has viable renewable energy options. Hydropower, for instance, may be tapped from three sites, and this could provide cheaper, cleaner, and safer energy as well as provide economic benefit to the community.

In a world where the focus is on profit, I am one with those who fight for sustainable development - one that caters to the protection of the environment, the promotion of biodiversity, and one that safeguards the rights of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology.

I am Kathryn Leuch, coordinator since April 2013 of the Palawan Alliance for Clean Energy (PACE), a loose coalition of NGOs and concerned individuals in pursuit of the development and utilization of renewable energy in Palawan as well as decreasing its fossil-fuel dependence – especially coal. I have been an environmental advocate and volunteer for more than a year and I strongly believe that the environment should not be sacrificed for unsustainable development.

Clean Energy Palawan

For the Global Day of Action (GDA) against coal, we organized a protest attended by about 400 residents of Panacan, Narra, Palawan, the site where the proposed coal-fired power plant is to be built. After two hours of travel, we held our protest at the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) Technical Institute on the date coinciding the council meeting. The protest allowed us to make sure our voices were heard and our opposition to the installation of a coal plant was registered.

We pleaded to the council that it should not issue a clearance for the project absent social acceptability, as reflected by the residents in opposition as well as the municipal resolution denying the project. We held a burial ceremony for the coal plant, and it was followed by as unfurling of the End the Age of Coal Banner. This to signify that here in Palawan, we want to end the age of coal, before it even begins.

We want our government to listen to its people. We want them to know that in Palawan, we DO NOT WANT coal and we DO NOT NEED coal.

Kathryn is a member of the Palawan Alliance for Clean Energy (PACE). Join her cause and pledge your support at http://www.endtheageofcoal.org/#take_the_pledge

Photos are from Clean Energy for Palawan