Amid extreme heat, gov’t told to ensure PH stops burning coal

Project Proponent Sophia Villachica with the USLS BEU Junior High School Peer Facilitators as she discussed the initiatives of the advocacy.
Project Proponent Sophia Villachica with the USLS BEU Junior High School Peer Facilitators as she discussed the initiatives of the advocacy.

Clean energy advocacy group Power for People Coalition (P4P) urged the Philippine government to strictly implement the coal moratorium issued by the Department of Energy (DOE) in 2020 and urgently pave the path for the country to transition out of coal dependence, in response to climate change and to serve the best interests of consumers.

The call was made as the group joined hundreds of community and civic movement representatives in mobilizations in Mendiola and outside Metro Manila urging the Marcos administration to declare a national climate emergency, just as 33 areas across the country reported ‘dangerous’ heat index levels Friday.

“The decade that the Philippines spent massively expanding its use of coal brought more harm than benefits to Filipinos, who now bear burdens of grave pollution and high electricity prices. Today, coal is under fire globally for all of these, and for its contribution to a worsening climate crisis as the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel. We will no longer tolerate the excuses that the national government still makes for coal. The Marcos administration and DOE should stop creating loopholes to keep building new coal plants,” said Gerry Arances, convenor of P4P.

In a letter submitted to the DOE, P4P raised alarm over 12 remaining coal-fired power plant projects despite already qualifying for shelving based on the coal moratorium advisory. The letter was signed by P4P groups Sanlakas, KONSYUMER, Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED), Caritas Philippines, Sanlakas Cebu, Konsyumer Negros, Quezon for Environment (QUEEN), Save Sual Movement, Partido Lakas ng Masa and Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP).

P4P also called the DOE out for exempting an expansion of an Aboitiz Corporation coal plant unit in Cebu from the moratorium.

“Aboitiz Power Corporation is reportedly seeking to expand its 350 MW Therma Visayas Inc. (TVI) coal plant in Toledo City, Cebu. Such an expansion falls firmly within the ambit of the Coal Moratorium given it will be an addition to an existing power plant project that has neither firm expansion plans nor existing land site provision, as required by item 2(b) of the Coal Moratorium Advisory… Aboitiz Power Corporation had no firm expansion plans and was only considering the expansion as an “option”, subject to further decision, considering cost and whether they can finance it. Therefore, it is a project to which the Coal Moratorium wholly applies and which can no longer be approved or given a COE (Certificate of Endorsement),” the letter read.

Meanwhile, the DOE on Thursday also announced that it expects red and yellow alerts to be prolonged at least until May due to the high heat index.

“Electricity all the more becomes crucial in the summer for consumers to beat the heat, and we are now suffering temperatures exacerbated by El Nino. These red and yellow alerts are a perennial problem from conking coal and other fossil fuel power plants. We cannot expect any change in years to come with the same old power sources. When we have an abundance of renewables available, including the DOE-facilitated 5.5 GW of renewable energy set to enter through the Green Energy Auction Program, there’s no reason to stick to coal. The DOE and the Philippine government must urgently commence the phaseout of our reliance on coal, beginning with the country’s most unreliable plants,” Arances added.

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