Greenpeace dumps coal at DENR: calls for cancellation of IloIlo Coal plant

Feature story - April 17, 2008
Greenpeace activists dumped half a ton of coal at the entrance of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) today and unfurled a banner with the message “Atienza, don’t be a climate criminal.” The activists are demanding that Secretary Lito Atienza immediately reject all plans to construct a dangerous coal-fired power plant in Iloilo City.

Greenpeace activists dump 200 kilos of coal at the entrance of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) after unfurling a banner with the message" Atienza, don't be a climate criminal." The activists are demanding that Secretary Lito Atienza immediately reject all plans to construct a dangerous coal-fired power plant in Iloilo City.

Greenpeace activists dump 200 kilos of coal at the entrance of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) after unfurling a banner with the message" Atienza, don't be a climate criminal." The activists are demanding that Secretary Lito Atienza immediately reject all plans to construct a dangerous coal-fired power plant in Iloilo City.

Security personnel try to remove a pile of coal dumped by Greenpeace activists at the entrance of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The activists are demanding that Secretary Lito Atienza immediately reject all plans to construct a dangerous coal-fired power plant in Iloilo City.

Security personnel try to remove a pile of coal dumped by Greenpeace activists at the entrance of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The activists are demanding that Secretary Lito Atienza immediately reject all plans to construct a dangerous coal-fired power plant in Iloilo City.

Security personnel try to remove a pile of coal dumped by Greenpeace activists at the entrance of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The activists are demanding that Secretary Lito Atienza immediately reject all plans to construct a dangerous coal-fired power plant in Iloilo City.

Instead of actual coal, the activists used charcoal, which is safer than the coal used in power plants.  Coal, when burnt, releases a cocktail of toxic gases that have deadly health impacts on downwind communities.  It is also a major contributor to climate change, the most serious environmental threat facing the world today.

"It is a crime against humanity to abet climate change-a crime that Secretary Atienza can stop by denying the issuance on an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) to the Iloilo Coal plant," said Greenpeace Climate and Energy Campaigner Jasper Inventor.  "If Mr. Atienza is, as he claims, serious about working toward solutions to the climate problem, then he should take the lead in blocking the construction and expansion of the Iloilo plant and any other similar coal project in the country."

Greenpeace also reminded Secretary Atienza about his own pronouncements at the UN climate change meeting in Bali in December last year, where he called on world governments to act urgently and decisively to reverse climate change. Mr. Atienza at Bali had emphasized that climate change will condemn the Philippines to poverty, and, worldwide, will displace some 340 million people while depriving 1.8 billion people of drinking water.

"And it is under his stewardship that the DENR is due to decide on the issuance of an ECC for the Iloilo coal plant whose construction plans have been met with massive resistance from civil society, church, and community groups in the city. We have brought this charcoal to him today to remind him of his words-if he eats them, then he can eat coal as well," challenged Inventor during the activity.

Coal is the dirtiest, most carbon intensive of all fossil fuels. Emitting 29 percent more carbon per unit of energy than oil and 80 percent more than gas, it is one of the leading contributors to climate change.  Although coal-fired power plants already account for 36% of the country's carbon dioxide emissions from the energy sector, there are still at least eight coal-fired plants lined up for construction or expansion in the Philippines, including the 165 MW coal-fired power plant in Iloilo.

"Iloilo does not need this coal plant.  At present, there is an oversupply of 85MW in Panay Island and Guimaras.  Beginning October 2008, there will be an additional oversupply when the existing submarine cable linking Panay Island to the Negros geothermal grid starts providing an additional 30MW of electricity.  On top of that, when the submarine cable is upgraded also later this year, Iloilo will receive an additional 100MW, bringing the total electricity oversupply to 215MW," said Melvin Purzuelo of Responsible Ilonggos for Sustainable Energy (RISE).

Greenpeace and RISE maintain that needed power additions can be supplied by a range of renewable energy alternatives from small hydro, biomass and wind within Panay, and the expansion of geothermal power plants within the Visayas grid, eliminating the need for coal.

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