Aquino continues to be pro-coal, plays double-speak on climate change adaptation

Press release - September 20, 2014
Manila, Philippines— With just a few days away before President Benigno Aquino III delivers a speech at the United Nations Climate Summit in New York, Greenpeace today challenged the Chief Executive to end his “coal addiction” in light of climate change and climate-influenced disasters, fuelled by dirty fossil fuels.

“We question the President’s sincerity and his measures to address the impacts of climate change on behalf the Filipino people. While he is preparing to drumbeat about his administration’s so-called successes in terms of addressing climate change in front of a global audience, back home he continues to prioritize coal-fired power plants over renewable energy sources to address the country’s growing power needs,” said Reuben Andrew Muni, Climate and Energy Campaigner from Greenpeace Philippines. “Aquino’s pro-coal stance is already costing the Philippines its climate, and all efforts to combat the impacts of climate change are being laid to waste by his administration’s penchant for coal.”

Greenpeace raised the alarm over President Aquino’s recent statements during a business forum in Davao City, where he declared that coal is the most viable power source in Mindanao, also asserting how the country’s renewable energy (RE) is limited and may be more costly.

Coal is a highly polluting energy source and emits much more carbon per unit of energy than oil and natural gas [1]. Coal burning is one of the leading contributors to climate change.

The environmental group said that despite growing evidence of climate change affecting highly vulnerable countries like the Philippines, the Aquino government continues to approve more coal-powered plants as the country’s main source of energy. In fact, the current Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016 prioritizes coal-fired power plants in the coming years. 

More than 34% of the Philippine’s power generation comes from coal. A new Greenpeace report, True Cost of Coal in the Philippines, gave estimates on how coal has disadvantaged the Philippines in terms of economic losses related to environmental and health impacts, and more [2]. To make matters worse, the current administration has 45 new coal projects in the pipeline, this would increase the Philippines’ carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by over 64.4 to 79.8 million metric tons a year. Building more coal-fired power plants would undermine the Philippines’ role in any international agreements to tackle climate change [3].

Meanwhile, the Aquino government continues to snub the country’s renewable energy sources which are naturally abundant in the Philippines, creating clean jobs and green growth. Renewable energy provided over 26% of the country’s electricity generation in 2010. In fact, RE has the technological potential to contribute to more than 50% of the Philippines’ energy needs by 2020 [4]. Worldwide, RE power generation is growing, providing one-fifth of the world’s electricity and has added about half of the world’s new generating capacity each year since 2008 [5].

“It is obvious that President Aquino is merely paying lip service to prioritizing climate change adaptation and mitigation measures for the country if he continues to burn more coal in his own backyard. He is also grossly misinformed about the potential of RE sources to adequately provide for the growing power needs of the country, especially in Mindanao which also relies on solar, geothermal and hydrothermal plants,” added Muni.

Greenpeace believes that it is not too late for Aquino to change his energy policies, and calls on the President to take the lead and be part of the global solution to climate change by embracing clean and renewable energy as the foremost long-term solution to the country’s growing power needs.

“With the country perennially battling extreme weather events, we need to face the facts and act now. The Philippine Climate Change Commission, the Department of Energy, and the President himself must set us on a clear path to quit coal,” said Muni.

Notes to the editor:

[1] From mine to sky, from extraction to combustion, coal pollutes every step of the way. The huge environmental and social costs associated with coal usage make it an expensive option for developing countries. From acid drainage coming from coal mines, polluting rivers and streams, to the release of mercury and other toxins when it is burned, as well as climate-destroying gases and fine particulates that wreak havoc on human health, coal is unquestionably, dirty.

[2] The True Cost of Coal in the Philippines Volume 1
http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/ph/press/reports/True-Cost-of-Coal-in-the-Philippines/

[3] The True Cost of Coal Volume 2: Cost of Climate Change in the Philippines http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/ph/press/reports/True-Cost-of-Coal-in-the-Philippines/

[4] Green is Gold Report http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/ph/press/reports/Green-is-Gold/

[5] http://blog.rmi.org/blog_2013_03_26_2013_Asias_Accelerating_Energy_Revolution

 

For more information, contact:

Reuben Muni, Climate and Energy Campaigner, , 0917-8069084

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