Climate group alarmed by call for coal in Duterte SONA

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The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), the largest climate justice group in the Philippines, welcomed the statement of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte that addressing global warming would be a top priority of his government.

However, the group expressed concern over the President’s caveat in his State of the Nation Address that a global warming solution must not stymie the country’s industrialization.

“The current global targets to address global warming and climate change are still very far from equitable, with the rich industrialized countries pledging actions that are very short of their fair share. A serious consequence of this inequity is that the aggregate impact of all country targets will still condemn us to nearly 3 degrees Celsius increase in the earth’s temperature. This is not consistent with the avowed goal in the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to below 1.5 degrees,” PMCJ said in a statement on Tuesday.

President Duterte said in his SONA that, “Let us be very clear on this: We need to industrialize. We need the power and, therefore, the emissions would also be considered.
You just can’t say it: ‘I established five economic zones here’. And you start to say that, ‘you are spewing so much carbon footprints’. Mahirap yan. I mean, it’s hard. I cannot just agree on anything that will delay. I’m only good for six years.”


“And I intend to do something during my term. Now, I’m sure that the heavy machineries would come in and even the power, cheapest is coal,” he said.

President Durterte also directed the concerned regulatory agencies to prioritize the issuance of required permits for power development.

“If you’re using the state of the art technology and I’ve seen it several times in the other power plants in this country, if it is really a good one, then we will consider it, I said, because we need the energy to power our industrialization,” he said.

“Is President Duterte advocating unhampered industrialization? We hope not. Industrialization must be pursued within the bounds of sustainable, rights-based, and climate-friendly development pathways, and not the other way around. We believe there are ways to achieve development that is equitable and is in harmony with the welfare of the planet. That is the only kind of development that is in the interest of our people,” the climate change group said.

“We are also alarmed by the President’s reference to “clean coal.” Is President Duterte falling for this dirty lie, this outdated and false information that coal is cheap? The cost of coal is more than the financial cost of mining coal and building and running coal plants.

Even the most state of art in coal energy technology has huge harmful consequences to people’s health and environment, which cannot be fully compensated for financially.

President Duterte should know that renewable energy is not only clean and healthy, the financial cost of building and running renewable energy systems has already achieved parity with coal,” the group added.

Meanwhile, the Department of Energy (DOE) is in one with President Duterte on accelerating economic growth by implementing energy policies that will meet the country’s specific requirements, especially baseload capacities.

“The DOE is mandated to ensure energy supply as the country is still in the process of industrialization. It should be emphasized that the Philippines, as a developing country, has low carbon emissions. The country must therefore use whatever energy resources are available and affordable for power generation,” the energy department said.

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