Investment board told to stop supporting dirty energy

Feature story - July 29, 2002
The Philippines Board of Investments was urged today provide preferential incentives for renewable energy projects nationally by the Philippines Chairman of the Committee of Foreign Affairs, Congressman Lozada, after Greenpeace held a peaceful protest outside the board's Manila headquarters today.

"Unfortunately, the Board of Investments is encouraging the wrong sort of energy like dirty fossil fuel power stations that damage the climate, when they could be promoting and supporting, clean, renewable energy like solar, wind and modern biomass," said Congressman Lozada speaking after the Greenpeace protest.

Like many developing countries, the demand for electricity in the Philippines is growing rapidly. The Board of Investments (under the Department of Trade and Industry) has the power to shape the future of the Philippines energy development. It is able to offer incentives such as tax breaks and duty free status to companies investing in energy projects.

"The Board of Investments could be energy heroes. Instead they are energy zeros," said Congressman Lozada. "The board has a responsibility to future generations of Filipinos to ensure that energy investments made today are not going to damage the climate tomorrow."

Earlier this morning, Greenpeace activists hung a banner reading "Plug into Clean Energy Now!" on the Board of Investments building in downtown Manila, as employees gathered outside for the raising of the flag. Activists gave employees cups of coffee and tea from a mobile solar powered café, and gathered signatures on a petition for renewable energy.

More than 70,000 Filipinos have signed the Choose Positive Energy petition in just two months demanding clean energy. Greenpeace today called on the Chairman of the Board of Investments, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Mar Roxas, to answer their call by offering preferential support to renewable energy and withdrawing support for negative energy.

Greenpeace also called on the BOI to cancel the registration of the Central Negros Power Company which is proposing the Pulupandan coal-fired power station. Plans for the project have been temporarily shelved after foreign investors including bankrupt US company Covanta Energy (formerly Ogden Energy) withdrew.

However the plant could still be built if developers are able to find more money. The UK French corporation Alstom refuses to withdraw from the proposal, despite its dubious status.

"If the Board of Investments revokes the registration for Pulupandan, it would put the final nail in the coffin of this dirty, greenhouse polluting plant," said Athena Ballesteros, campaigns director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

"Local residents have been fighting this plant for years. We are a growing country with a growing demand for power, but it doesn't make sense to build new coal-fired power stations when we could be building new, clean power stations based on solar, wind or modern biomass."

"Coal is expensive, it's imported and it releases greenhouse pollution that damages the climate. In comparison, the sun and the wind are free, they are found just about everywhere in the Philippines and they don't pollute our atmosphere."

The potential power of wind in the Philippines is estimated to be 70,000-MW, which represents seven times the country's present total energy demand.

The USA and Australia - two of the countries doing their utmost to derail international action on climate change - are encouraging the Philippines' fossil fuel dependence. US corporation Mirant owns and operates some of the biggest coal fired power stations in the Philippines, such as Sual and Pagbilao coal fired power stations. Australia provides most of the Philippines' imported coal. The UK French corporation, Alstom, has provided technology for several of the existing dirty coal fired power plants, and is planning more.

The Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise is visiting the Philippines and Thailand on the Choose Positive Energy Tour of Southeast Asia, where communities are rejecting the dirty energy technology of coal-fired power stations, and demanding clean renewable energy to fill the growing demand. The Greenpeace flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, is presently campaigning in the North Sea against nuclear and fossil fuel energy on the northern leg of the Choose Positive Energy Tour.

The Choose Positive Energy Tour is part of Greenpeace's countdown to the Earth Summit held in Johannesburg next month. Greenpeace is campaigning for governments to make a commitment at the Johannesburg Earth Summit, to provide clean and affordable renewable energy to the two billion people around the world who currently live without electricity, and for OECD governments to immediately move 20% of their energy investments to renewables and to phase out financial support for all dirty energy sources within give years. During the coming weeks the Choose Positive Energy Tour will illustrate that renewable energy is ready and able to replace dirty coal, oil, gas and nuclear power - not only in the future but today.