Rainbow Warrior ends peaceful protest at Pagbilao

Senator Zubiri calls for moratorium on coal expansion in RP

Feature story - May 25, 2008
Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior today called off its peaceful protest at the Pagbilao coal-fired power station assured that it has initiated strong political movement toward a moratorium on expansion of coal power in the Philippines through a resolution in the Senate.

Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior passes by the coal ship Sam John Spirit as it exits the Pagbilao coal-fired power plant pier in Quezon Province, 150 kilometers south of Manila. Activists from the Rainbow Warrior yesterday painted the side of the bulk carrier with the words "Quit Coal." The environment group called off its peaceful protest at the coal plant today, assured that it has initiated strong political movement toward a moratorium on expansion of coal power in the Philippines through a resolution in the Senate. Coal-fired power plants are the single biggest source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and a major cause of climate change. Greenpeace is calling on the Philippine government to instead tap the massive potential of clean, safe, renewable energy.

 For three days now Greenpeace has been holding a peaceful protest at Pagbilao coal plant in Quezon Province, 150 kilometers south of Manila, to bring the attention of the Philippine government to the devastation caused by climate change and to call for a stop to further construction and expansion of coal power in the country.  The group is calling on the government to instead tap the massive potential of clean, safe, renewable energy.

Earlier today Senator Zubiri declared that he would seek a moratorium on the expansion of coal power in the Philippines through a resolution.  In a media statement Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri expressed his support for the campaign of Greenpeace Southeast the Asia to pressure energy officials to "Quit coal" to mitigate global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions.

In a communiqué to Rainbow Warrior, Senator Zubiri said:  "I will file a resolution in the Senate seeking a halt in the construction of new coal fired power plants in the country.  In tandem will be a strong Renewable Energy Bill that shall allow us to shift towards a low carbon economy, and away from dependence on fossil fuels, particularly coal. Coal carries huge environmental, health and social costs."

"We have made our point here.  The expansion of the Pagbilao coal plant as well as the proposed construction of new plants should not be allowed to continue.  We welcome Senator Zubiri's intervention and call on our decision makers in government to take responsibility and lead us away from this deadly reliance on dirty fossil fuels.  By continuing on this dirty energy pathway, the government is guilty of condemning Filipinos to an insecure and calamitous future." Said Von Hernandez, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia

The Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, has been identified as the nation most affected by climate impacts in 2006 by the NGO GermanWatch.  The country has been ravaged by some of the most powerful storms, floods and mudslides in recent years.

"In the process of calling attention to the deleterious impacts related to the expansion of this coal plant, we may have committed some infractions, but we believe what is at stake here is more serious than the alleged violations. Our intention is to alert all Filipinos about the hazards posed by coal fired power plant and climate change, it is the single largest threat to all humanity on the planet, and I am happy to receive confirmation from Senator Zubiri that he is going to intervene in the Senate and push for the passage of the Renewable Energy Bill," said Captain Mike Fincken of the Rainbow Warrior.

Burning coal is the single biggest source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and a major cause of climate change. Coal emits 29% more carbon per unit of energy than oil and 80% more than gas.  But despite the threat of climate change impacts and a 54% overcapacity in electricity production, the government has approved the construction of new coal power plants and expansion of older ones.

The Rainbow Warrior is in the Philippines to spearhead the Greenpeace "Quit Coal Tour" in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. The tour aims to promote an energy revolution to stop climate change, which includes phasing out the use of climate-damaging coal and a massive uptake of renewable energy.

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