Greenpeace welcomes City Council resolution

Feature story - September 2, 2008
Greenpeace today welcomed the Olongapo City government resolution expressing their objection to harmful coal-fired power plants, and called on other cities and provinces to join the movement to 'quit coal' and go renewable as a solution to stop dangerous climate change.

Greenpeace flagship, Rainbow Warrior, anchors alongside MV Medi Firenze which unloads cargo at the Pagbilao coal power plant in Quezon province, around 300 kms south of Manila 23 May 2008. Greenpeace calls on the Philippine government to halt all coal plant projects and coal expansion. Burning coal heavily emits carbon dioxide, one of the major causes of climate change.

Resolution no. 131, issued unanimously by the City Council of Olongapo recently, shuns coal-fired power plants as an energy source and pushes for renewable energy solutions for the city. The resolution was drawn up as a formal opposition to a proposed 300 MW coal power plant in the Subic Bay area, whose freeport zone and surrounds are popular eco-tourism destinations.

"The citizens of Olongapo do not want coal plants. Coal is a harmful source of energy which exacerbates climate change, the greatest threat our world faces today. Olongapo knows that cleaner, safer renewable energy technologies are abundant and can and should be tapped. The proponents of the coal plant should abandon their dangerous energy project," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Campaign Manager Beau Baconguis.

"Olongapo City shows real leadership in putting the welfare of its citizens over the vested business interests of the coal project. Quitting coal means stopping climate change and giving a healthier environment for the people of Olongapo," she added.

For the past several months, the City Council has been holding forums to present to stakeholders, including Olongapo residents, the side of the coal plant proponents alongside concerns from environment groups, health experts, and socio-civic organizations.

Citing global warming gases from coal plants, as well as harmful coal-plant emissions which studies show lead to premature deaths and mental retardation, the Resolution states that "The City Government believes that the grim environmental and economic impact of a coal-fired power plant in Subic Bay is long-lasting, far outweighing its perceived and unproven benefits to our local economy."

Redondo Peninsula Energy Inc., a joint venture of Aboitiz Power Corp. and Taiwan Cogen International Corp., announced last August 22 that they are scheduling the groundbreaking ceremony for the 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Subic Bay Freeport this coming October. The resolution signifies the lack of public acceptance for the project.

"The citizens of Olongapo do not want coal plants. Coal is a harmful source of energy which exacerbates climate change, the greatest threat our world faces today. Olongapo knows that cleaner, safer renewable energy technologies are abundant and can and should be tapped. The proponents of the coal plant should abandon their dangerous energy project."

Beau Baconguis

Greenpeace Southeast Asia Campaign Manager

This resolution comes a week after DENR Secretary Lito Atienza announced his intention to grant an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) to another proposed coal fired power plant in the city of Iloilo. The project is widely opposed by Iloilo residents but which, ironically, is being promoted by Iloilo City officials.

"Olongapo City is joining pioneering provinces such as Negros Occidental, Albay and Antique in declaring 'No to coal, yes to renewable energy!' It is high time that the national government, especially the pro-coal DENR, listened. The Senate must pass the Renewable Energy Bill, the Department of Energy must stop coal expansion, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources must stop issuing Environmental Compliance Certificates to climate change-causing coal-fired power plants," said Baconguis.

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