Greenpeace coal blockade prompts Philippine call for clean energy
Pagbilao, Quezon, , Philippines — Greenpeace’s ship the Rainbow Warrior today ended a three-day blockade of the Pagbilao coal-fired power plant, 150 kilometres southwest of Manila, as leading politicians joined the organisation’s call for the Philippines to “Quit Coal”.
The blockade began on the eve of the G8 Environment Ministers Meeting in Japan, where ministers from the world’s richest industrialised countries are discussing solutions to climate change, 24-26 May. The Rainbow Warrior action highlights the urgent need for rejecting coal to top the agenda.
Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, Secretary General of the Philippine government’s ruling coalition partner Lakas CMD, today assured Greenpeace he would seek a moratorium on the expansion of coal power in the Philippines: “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.”
On Wednesday, Governor of Albay Province, Luzon, Joey Sarte Salceda, declared the province a coal-free zone stressing “there is no room for coal in a world beset by climate change.”
“These calls from leading politicians in the Philippines, a developing country, deliver a strong message to the G8 to denounce coal and start making a clean, energy-efficient future possible. Greenpeace’s Energy Revolution, developed with over a dozen scientific institutes from around the world, proves this is possible,” said Jasper Inventor, climate campaigner with Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
Despite the fact that the Philippines was last year identified as the nation most affected by climate change (1) and has a 54 percent overcapacity in electricity production, the government plans to expand the Pagbilao coal-fired power plant and build eight new coal power plants. The coal plant’s expansion would mean an additional 5 million tons of climate-wrecking carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere every year – double the plant’s current production.
The Rainbow Warrior’s blockade prevented the coal ship Medi Firenze from unloading a cargo of coal at the plant’s dock. It also prevented the Sam John Spirit from approaching with a bigger shipment of coal.
Burning coal is the single biggest source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and a major cause of climate change. Coal is responsible for one third of all CO2 emissions and is projected to increase 60 percent by 2030 in ‘business as usual’ scenarios. This is completely unacceptable in a world where impacts of climate change, including changing weather patterns, can be seen every day.
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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