The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) welcomes the recent pronouncement of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to conduct a review of all the permits and operations of the existing coal-fired power plants. This came as a reaction to the news quoting Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Paz “Gina” Lopez that the review is necessary to check and assure that the plants pose no danger to the environment. The group believes that if done, it will definitely alleviate the long standing miseries the communities been subjected to like the various social, environmental and health impacts brought about by these dirty and harmful power plants. However, the group warns that the review is not a simple process and hopes that it will not redound to mere lip service.
According to Mr. Ian Rivera, PMCJ National Coordinator, “We are glad to hear that DENR is finally taking action to review the coal fired power plants however what is very urgent is for DENR to come up with the guidelines how this review will be accomplished. Will this include all the ECCs and environmental impact assessment (EIA) of all coal fired power plants including those identified as committed and indicative? What will DENR do to the DOE approved 12 coal fired power plants with a total committed capacity of 3,398 MW and are set to be operational by 2019. By DOE’s calculation, when these 12 plants will be online, it will jack up to 70% the coal percentage in the energy mix. What If these plants are found violating their corresponding environmental impact statements (EIS) which I don’t really doubt, will their ECCs be cancelled?”
Aside from coming up with the guidelines, PMCJ argues that what should immediately be attended into together with the review is for DENR to embark on the energy review initiated by the Climate Change Commission (CCC). “As the head of the Climate Change Cluster in the cabinet, we believe that it is incumbent upon Secretary Gina Lopez to push for this energy review for it will contribute a lot in rationalizing our country’s shift to renewable energy without sacrificing the goals of development. More so, this energy review will take into consideration the Philippines’ commitment to the global call of limiting the average temperature rise below 1.5 degrees”, Rivera said.
The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, as the largest climate justice group in the country argues that the Philippines must industrialize. On the other hand, PMCJ has always been firm that development is not synonymous to the use of coal and other fossil fuels. “The greatest challenge that PMCJ wants to lay down to this current administration is the hope that sooner, President Rodrigo Duterte will endorse the implementation of this energy review and make true its pronouncements that he will bring into justice those companies that bring suffering to the people”, Rivera added.