Greenpeace vessel arrives in Manila

m/v Arctic Sunrise sounds the alarm on climate change impacts, promotes energy alternatives

Press release - April 19, 1999
The m/v Arctic Sunrise, the latest addition to Greenpeace's fleet is now on Philippine shores for a goodwill visit to help drum up public support for a clean air act, raise awareness on the alarming impacts of human-induced climate change and promote sustainable energy solutions.

The m/v Arctic Sunrise, the latest addition to Greenpeace's fleet is now on Philippine shores for a goodwill visit to help drum up public support for a clean air act, raise awareness on the alarming impacts of human-induced climate change and promote sustainable energy solutions.

The ice breaking vessel, m/v AS which arrived Saturday in Manila has spent most of its life in icy polar seas. It has sailed Antarctica as well as Arctic waters bearing witness to alarming impacts of human-induced climate change[1], the most vivid of which are huge cracks in ice shelves, dwindling ice-based wildlife population and melting glaciers.

"The Arctic Sunrise comes to us bearing a reminder that the first signs of climate change are already measurable and noticeable. Today, it is no longer a question of whether or not global warming is happening but how bad it is going to be," says Athena Ronquillo-Ballesteros, Climate Campaigner from Greenpeace International.

Developing countries, particularly those with extensive coastlines such as the Philippines will be adversely affected by rising sea levels, spread of diseases and pests as a result of warmer temperatures and extreme weather events, particularly with more frequent and severe episodes of El Niño and La Niña Scientists have also noted that the 3 hottest years on record all occurred in the 1990s (1990, 1995 and 1997). 1998 also recorded unusual warm temperatures.

"We have to stop using the atmosphere as a giant wastebasket for gases like CO2 that cause global warming. In order to seriously reduce the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere and thus prevent or slowdown dangerous climate change, we need to start thinking about independence from fossil-fuel based technologies," Ballesteros added.

The Philippines, like many of its ASEAN partners, is venturing into an intensive coal-based power development program. Greenpeace has expressed concern over the huge environmental and social costs associated with the building of these power plants.

"Western companies operating in Asia, should not in any way be allowed to commit the serious mistakes they made, in environmental policy terms, in the development of electricity systems in the West. The fossil fuel market sector will be expanding again in the coming years. Market analysts estimated that more than 100,000 Megawatts will be built in Asia within the next 10 years. Projected emissions, particularly of CO2, from the carbon intensive path will be tremendous" says Sven Teske, Energy Campaigner from Greenpeace Germany.

According to Teske, "there are only 4 super companies which control the majority of the global fossil and nuclear power plant sector. These are General Electric (USA), Siemens/Westinghouse (Germany/USA), ABB/Alstom (Switzerland, Sweden, France) and Mitsubishi (Japan). Siemens hopes to sell nuclear reactors to Asia, because they are not able to sell them in western countries any more. These companies ought to shy away from fossils and nukes, and instead invest money towards carrying out renewable energy and energy efficiency, he added.

Greenpeace has commissioned a report to be launched In Manila on Renewable Independent Power Producers (RIPP). The report examined ways of delivering electricity services from a variety of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. It provides the governments and the private sector the tools needed to mainstream renewables in grid-connected areas.

Greenpeace through a series of activities on board the m/v AS is pushing the Philippine government to serve as a model in proactive environmental advocacy amongst its ASEAN neighbors. "We are calling on the leadership of the country to heed our call for a clean air act as well as create a healthy environment for renewable and energy efficiency power producers."

Notes: [1] See attached primer and information sheet. "Climate in Crisis" for detailed discussion on the causes and impacts of climate change in Southeast Asia

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