Phase out coal, church leaders urge
MANILA, Philippines — Over 80 dioceses and 69 out of the 85 diocesan social action centers in the country have called on various sectors to work toward the phaseout of “dirty, deadly and costly” coal.
Bishops and church officials of the Social Action Network and different dioceses recently attended an online gathering called “Withdraw from Coal: Stewardship and Energy for the Earth” as part of this year’s Season of Creation to push for clean and renewable energy.
Earlier this week, the National Secretariat for Social Action/Caritas Philippines, the social action arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, urged the government to declare a climate of emergency, and honor international agreements on caring for the Earth.
NASSA/Caritas Philippines executive secretary Fr. Antonio Labiao Jr. and national director Rev. Jose Bagaforo noted that the Philippines has largely been dependent on coal, the cheapest fuel option but the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
“Coal is our unfortunate contribution to the nonstop destruction of our natural and rich ecosystems, the displacement of communities, especially indigenous peoples, and premature deaths due to health risks posed by coal operation,” they said.
Quoting the Department of Energy, the religious organization said that as of December 2018, there were 27 fully operational coal-fired power plants in the country even as some nations in Europe and Asia had turned to cleaner energy sources.
The country’s dependence on imported coal, mostly from Indonesia and Australia, has reduced its energy self-sufficiency and puts it at greater risk in terms of climate change exposure, price volatility and unfavorable foreign exchanges, it added.
These in turn have resulted in high electricity rates, unstable power supply and bad investments both for the government and private energy players.
In June, Pope Francis issued guidelines for carrying out the environmental encyclical Laudato Si and called on the Church to divest itself of investments in fossil fuel companies.
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