Greenpeace today called on the Philippine Government to make way for progress unlimited by dirty energy by phasing out coal-fired power plants and canceling all new build of coal as a key step to ensure the massive uptake of renewable energy in the country.
The environment group is challenging the current administration to source half of the country’s energy needs from renewable energy by 2020. The call came during a Renewable Energy Summit in Cebu City this week which aims to develop a renewable energy plan for the Visayas.
“In the Philippines, the Visayas is the most well-suited to become the model for decentralized renewable energy ‘smart’ grids of the future. But the biggest challenge to renewable energy development is coal. Every coal-fired power plant approved and built here is a step backwards to the dark and dirty power plants of the past,” said Mark Dia, Country Representative of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
“Local and national governments must realize that coal is a problem. Renewable energy is the solution. If we are to meet the challenges of sustainable energy development in Central Visayas and the whole country, public and private sectors must move to block coal development with the same drive and strength with which they promote renewable energy. We need forward-looking plans, otherwise we will continue to be stuck with outdated technologies that are hostage to the market prices of limited and finite fuels,” he added.
The provinces of Western Visayas are among those which have readily embraced renewable energy over coal power generation. Negros Occidental is the first Philippine province to declare a 100% renewable energy target while Antique is one of the first provinces to declare itself a coal-power free zone. In the Visayas, renewable energy, such as that from solar, wind, geothermal, run-of-river hydro and biomass, is abundant, available, and ready to be deployed.
In Cebu alone, two new coal-fired power plant developments continue to be built, despite massive community protest: 264 megawatts in Toledo and 200MW in Naga towns. Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel and its combustion for energy and the resulting toxic coal ash causes sickness and death, destroys livelihoods, and is one of the leading causes of climate change.
"In Iloilo, the entry of coal has now limited the space to be able to stimulate the development of renewable energy sources not only in the City but the rest of Panay. Despite very strong opposition from the public, the project went ahead. Even before the coal plant has operated, we have to deal with damaged roads, increased problems with dust, particulates and noise pollution. During the test phase, there were reported health problems in the surrounding communities. We are now concerned what will happen when this coal plant fully operates," said Dr Jose Ali Bedano from the Foundation of the Philippine Environments Regional Advisory Council in the Visayas.
"In Cebu, coal plants are creating problems—they are contaminating water, killing marine ecosystems, and making host communities sick. These externalities are not factored into the price of coal. Incorporate these and this will show the true cost, that coal very expensive. This is the same flawed energy development pathway that coal and their fossil-fuel apologists are trying to replicate nationwide such as in Davao," said Vince Cinches from the Fisherfolk Development Center in Cebu, one of the lead organizers of the Renewable Energy Summit.
Greenpeace is advocating an “Energy Revolution” (ER), a transformation in the way energy is used, produced and distributed as a key solution to mitigate climate change. This entails a massive shift to renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. Greenpeace believes that the target of 50% renewable energy in the country’s energy mix by 2020 is not only achievable but is imperative for energy security and sustainable economic growth. All that is needed is the political will to transform vision into reality.
Greenpeace is an independent global campaigning organization that acts to change attitudes and behavior to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace.
- Amalie Obusan, Climate and Energy Campaigner, +63 917 584 9663,
- JP Agcaoili, Media Campaigner, +63 917 631 2750, +63 2 414 6512 loc 121,