By: Chuck Baclagon
Activists from the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, Sanlakas, Metro Manila Vendors Alliance, Aniban ng mga Manggagawa sa Agricultura and 350.org protested at an international coal industry summit in the Philippines, ahead of the closing of the global climate negotiations in Morocco which aim to phase out coal and in turn limit global warming.
Dressed as “coal spectres” symbolizing the menace of dirty energy that continues to haunt countries like the Philippines, climate activists stormed the the Dusit Hotel in Makati, which hosts the fifth Coaltrans Emerging Asian Coal Markets conference. They called on the industry to stop peddling coal amidst worsening climate impacts which are already hitting the Philippines and other poor and vulnerable countries in Asia.
”We can’t let the dying coal industry hijack our future for a last-ditch effort to burn their remaining reserves for profit. We must keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius, if not within the aspirational target of 1.5 degrees Celsius, for a fighting chance to survive. And this requires halting all new fossil fuel development now,” said Chuck Baclagon of 350.org, a global climate campaigning organization.
The protest comes a day after Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi announced that “coal is here to stay” in the Philippine energy mix.
Among the speakers in the Coaltrans conference is a representative of Vattenfall Energy Trading, the Swedish operator of a lignite mine in Germany that was shut down by a mass action last May. Other coal entities in the summit include PT Adaro Indonesia; Indonesian Coal Mining Association; and TeaM (Philippines) Energy Corporation, a joint venture of Japanese firms Tokyo Electric Power Company and Marubeni Corporation, which owns the Pagbilao coal plant in Quezon. The event is sponsored by Carbo One, one of the largest coal trading companies in the world.
The Philippines is one of the countries most at risk from sea level rise, extreme weather events and economic damage from climate change, according to the latest scientific studies released by the United Nations Development Programme and supported by the Philippine government at the climate negotiations.
“There is no place for climate profiteering in this day and age. Massive investments on dirty coal energy should instead be channeled towards justly transitioning our energy industry towards renewable energy that benefits both the people and the planet,” added Baclagon.