DAVAO CITY, Philippines—The country must shift from coal to renewable energy, an official of the Caritas Philippines said Monday.
Fr. Edwin Gariguez, national secretariat for Social Action and Caritas Philippines executive secretary, issued this statement during the energy forum dubbed as the “Catholics & Coal” conference in Chicago, Illinois.
Hosted by the Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology of De Paul University, the forum draws on Catholic Social Teaching to connect the American Church’s experience with the issue to the situation facing the Church in the global South.
“The issue of coal mining and the operation of coal fired power plants all over our country is causing an alarming concern because of their harmful impacts,” he pointed out.
He claimed that the extraction and utilization of fossil-fueled energy sources have caused damages to the environment, health, and livelihood of poor communities.
According to Gariguez, the longest-running coal mining project in the country is the coal mining in Semirara Island, Antique. He said the coal mining operation has led “to immeasurable ecological destruction, including the destruction of hectares of mangroves due to clearing operations, land reclamation, dumping of infills, and siltation.”
Apart from the ecological destruction, it has also affected the residents relying on fishing and seaweed farming for food security and livelihood as “toxic chemicals build up in surrounding waters, increase of cancerous particulate matter in the water and air….and loss of coral areas owed to dumping of infills and pollution.”
Citing a 2015 data from the Department of Energy, Gariguez said the Philippines is “becoming more heavily dependent on coal, contributing 44.5-percent to the power generation mix.”
“This is in total contradiction to the global consensus in the Paris climate conference, and an outright inconsistency with the country’s commitment in its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to cut 70-percent of its carbon emission by 2030,” Gariguez said.
Presently, there are19 existing coal-fired power plants operating across the country. At least 39 more coal-fired power plants are expected to be operational by 2020, he added.
Gariguez, however, said that “even without new dirty and harmful energy projects, the country can still fulfill its energy demands by building alternatives.”
As of September 2015, he said a total of 682 renewable energy projects have been approved with a potential generating capacity of 13,574.68 megawatts, while 242 more contracts are still pending for approval. (davaotoday.com)