Something big happened in Olongapo City yesterday. I have been blessed to witness and be part of this huge movement. 3,000 strong, the powerful message "No to Coal in Subic" took over the streets by people coming from communities in Olongapo and organizations opposing the construction of a coal-fired power plant in Subic.
Multiple protest activities, organized by the Subic Bay No to Coal Coalition, were held that day: a forum, attended by youth representatives and students of Olongapo City National High School and Gordon College, and four lightning protest marches from different locations in the city that brought all protesters together in one big march.
Together with some Greenpeace volunteers, I joined the ecumenical prayer rally against the proposed coal plant. From there, we heard stories and letters written by grade school students addresed to President Aquino pleading him to put a stop to the construction of the proposed coal plant. Olongapo is one of the cities in the Philippines with coal-fired power plant proposals approved since President Aquino took office in 2010.
Coal is the world's dirtiest fossil fuel. It endangers the health and livelihood of communities and is one of the major causes of climate change. Unfortunately, President Aquino's current energy policy has opened the door to dozens of new coal-fired power plants. Given this reality, it will effectively shut out any significant renewable energy uptake in the Philippines.
For communities who will end up hosting these plants, this means living under the shadow of life-threatening toxic emissions, destroyed livelihoods and greater water scarcity. We have a right to clean air, right to clean water, right to choose clean energy and right to a secured livelihood. These rights are the reasons why we support the communities in voicing out their outrage and disapproval for coal projects. We cannot just let anyone take our rights and exploit the environment for short term benefits in the guise of economic growth.
We at Greenpeace are advocating for an Energy [R]evolution, a transformation in the way energy is used, produced and distributed, shifting away from fossil fuels such as coal, with an identified target of 50% Renewable Energy for the Philippines by 2020.
Words are not sufficient to express how moved, inspired and hopeful I am from yesterday's protest. It's just amazing to see people of all ages from all over the city come together to fight for our right to clean air, clean water and our right to say "NO" to dangerous coal. They have risen up and found their voice. The fight against fossil fuels has never been an easy one but now more than ever, we should all be confident to win this one.
For us at Greenpeace, we believe you can help.
- Using energy smartly can double energy efficiency. With a few simple steps, every one of us can do our bit.
- Join our Facebook group, PNoy: 50% Renewable Energy by 2020.
- Tweet the Energy [R]evolution.
- Spread the word. Become a cyberactivist.
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