Climate victory: Philippine province rejects coal for renewable energy

Feature story - August 6, 2002
Philippine government officials confirmed today that the proposed 50 megawatt coal-fired power station for Pulupandan in the province of Negros was officially "dead" and that renewable energy was the solution to the province's power needs. The announcement came on the final day of Greenpeace's Choose Positive Energy Tour in the Philippines. "The Department of Energy has already abandoned any talks, plans, whatever you want to call it, to promote the coal-fired project in Pulupandan," Undersecretary of the Philippines Department of Energy, Cyril del Callar said today. "So let's put it to rest, OK? And we have to move forward - the answer is we have to use renewable energy."

The Pulupandan plant was proposed by now bankrupt US company Covanta, and would have been built by French UK corporation Alstom and run on coal imported from Australia. It has been opposed by the local community and environment groups, including Greenpeace, since it was first proposed in 1998. Prior to that three municipalities had already rejected it.

The death-knell for the Pulupandan project came as the Governor of Negros province, the Energy Undersecretary and several non-government organisations including Greenpeace signed a Memorandum of Understanding to provide financial and technical support to renewable energy projects and mainstream clean energy technologies such as solar, wind and modern biomass.

"Negros is now ready to embrace renewable energy and chart a sustainable energy future," said Negros Governor Joseph Marañon. "I wish to declare the full support of the province of Negros Occidental for renewable energy development. I am confident that with all of us here, united and committed towards this common goal, the quest for a greener and pollution free Negros, will soon be a reality, today and in the future."

Greenpeace hailed the end of the Pulupandan project and subsequent renewable plan as "a great victory for the climate," and urged others to follow the lead of Negros. "This is a great day for the climate, and for the Philippine province of Negros," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaigns director, Athena Ballesteros. "The people of Negros have campaigned for years to stop the proposed power station in Pulupandan. Communities from around the world can look to Negros as an inspirational example of how they can demand - and get - clean energy, even if national governments or big businesses stand in their way."

"This month governments from around the world meet in Johannesburg for the Earth Summit. Greenpeace wants them to make a commitment to provide clean and affordable renewable energy to the two billion people around the world who currently live without electricity. If a developing country like the Philippines can reject dirty energy as we have seen today, it's time for rich countries to do the same."

The signing capped the Choose Positive Energy campaign tour in the Philippines by the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise. The three-week campaign highlighted the negative effects of fossil fuel energy projects such as coal-fired power stations, and promoted the need for clean, non-polluting energy. The Arctic Sunrise will leave the Philippines tomorrow for Thailand to continue the Choose Positive Energy Tour of Southeast Asia. Another Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior, is presently campaigning in the North Sea against nuclear and fossil fuel energy as part of the northern leg of the campaign tour.

The Choose Positive Energy Tour is part of Greenpeace's countdown to the Earth Summit that will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa this month. Greenpeace is also asking governments to ensure that 10% of energy is provided by renewable sources by 2010.