Catholic Church joins 1-M signatures drive vs coal plants
The Catholic Church has joined the “One Million Against Coal Campaign” to promote resistance to coal mines and the construction of coal-fired power plants in the country by gathering at least one million signatures.
Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Caritas Philippines National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa) executive secretary, said it was necessary for the church to be at the forefront of the opposition, especially since the government “is adamant about pursuing the extension of these destructive operations by asking for emergency powers.”
Caritas Philippines/Nassa is the social action arm of the Catholic Church in the country.
“In the guise of providing a more efficient energy source, higher tax revenue and so-called greater development, the state and multinational coal companies are opening another door for the Philippines to become a major contributor to climate change,” Gariguez said in a statement.
The campaign, in conjunction with the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), also hopes to persuade the government to stick to its commitment to mitigate the effects of climate change and natural calamities.
Gariguez said that while the coal plants were part of the government’s move to address the impending energy crisis, it should not disregard the health and lives of the people that will be affected.
Gariguez cited studies on how carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from coal-fired plants are the primary source of global warming. He also mentioned its fatal effects on the environment and people, especially babies in their mothers’ womb.
“The catastrophe we experienced from Supertyphoon Yolanda, which killed thousands and damaged billions in property, is proof of this,” Gariguez said.
PMCJ data showed that 26 new coal plants are expected to be operating in the country by 2020.
Caritas Philippines/Nassa, together with the Diocese of Lucena, has registered its strong disapproval to the project.
Citing government data, Gerry Arances, PMCJ national coordinator, said the potential of renewable energy in the country could go as high as more than 200,000 megawatts.
Despite this potential and despite the Renewable Energy Law of 2008 and the Climate Change Law of 2009, the Aquino administration has approved 59 coal plants and 118 coal mining permits, the group lamented.
“This has no place in a country that is on ground zero of the planetary crisis on climate change,” Arnaces said. With a report from Erika Sauler
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