by Camcer Ordoñez Imam
Ozamiz City – Environment advocates said continued construction of coal-fired projects may result in some 70,000 deaths per year by 2030, prompting residents of this city to form a human chain to protest the impending construction of a 300-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant here.
The residents, who claimed the coal-fired power plant will also deprive the people of Mindanao from enjoying clean and cheap energy from renewable energy sources, held their protest action
at the Naomis Botanical Compound here last Friday. It is part of a global campaign against the continued operations of coal-fired power plants in the various parts of the country.
“Back then when more than 50 percent of electricity generated in Mindanao was from Agus Pulangi hydropower plant, Mindanaoans enjoyed the cheapest electricity rate. However, electricity costs started to get higher as the share of coal increased to 40.2 percent against the 22.2 percent of hydro in the Mindanao mix in 2015,” said Lourdes M. Anabieza, point person of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ)-Western Mindanao Region.
“This is a clear indication that coal is not cheap, and we are being deceived by the government’s continued support for coal companies,” Anabieza added.
Lawyer Aaron Pedrosa, Energy Working Group head of PMCJ, citing a Harvard University-led research study, said air pollution from coal-fired power plants in Southeast Asia were estimated to cause 20,000 deaths per year.
“This number could rise to 70,000 deaths per year by 2030 if coal-fired power plants that are in the pipeline will be constructed,” Pedrosa added.
Individuals from various organizations and sectors in Misamis Occidental participated in the Global Divestment Mobilization here. It aims to project our calls and demands to our government and private investors for the divestment of funds from fossil fuel and coal to renewable energy, Abienza explained.
“We would also like to register our sentiments and question to the Commission on Appointment (CA) for rejecting the appointment of DENR Secretary Gina Lopez, and emphasize our opposition and rejection of the appointment of Roy Cimatu as DENR secretary, she said.
The nationwide activity hopes to highlight the role of profit in the continued pursuit of dirty, deadly, and costly energy from fossil fuels, especially from coal.
“It is unthinkable that the Philippines, which is among the most threatened by the disastrous effects of climate change, is considered a safe haven for coal, one of the leading causes of global warming,” said Pedrosa.
“As of March, 2017, the Philippines has a total of 7,504 MW installed power generation capacity from its 26 existing coal-fired power plants, with 35 more plants in the pipeline.
Pedrosa said that the government failed to notice that some 250,000-MW could be produced in the country by tapping clean and renewable energy.