By Piglas Pilipnas

ANTI-COAL activists, in protest over the plan to build the Atimonan coal-fired power plant in Quezon provice, held a rally today at the offices of multinational bank JP Morgan Chase in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.

The Atimonan coal-fired power plant is one of 36 new coal plants, which is expected to be built by the private sector, according to the DOE August 2017 data. Of which, 12 are “committed” or have estabished firm financing while 24 are “indicative” or are in the process of securing regulatory permits and financial closing. Despite criticism, the Duterte administration has increased the share of coal in the country’s energy mix.

The total project cost of the 1,200-megawatt Atimonan coal-fired power plant is at P135 billion, most of the project funding is to be borrowed by MGen, the power generation arm of Meralco, the country’s largest distribution utility. They are targeting local and foreign banks, including JP Morgan Chase.

Climate justice activists protest in front of the JP Morgan office in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), to call for the multinational bank to stop funding coal and dirty energy.

Fossil Fuel Financing by JP Morgan

JP Morgan ranked third globally in the list of 37 international banks that financed extreme fossil fuel activities from 2014 to 2016.

At the rally, the protesters hurled a giant streamer with the slogan, “JP Morgan, Stop Funding Coal and Dirty Energy”. The protesters were joined by representatives of the Atimonan community, who warned against air and water pollution, a health crisis, and other problems usually caused by coal-fired power plants.

Chuck Baclagon of declared, “JP Morgan Chase has a track record of financing of the most carbon-intensive, financially risky, and environmentally destructive sectors of the fossil fuel industry: extreme oil (tar sands, Arctic, and ultra-deepwater oil), coal mining, coal power, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) export”.

From 2014 to 2016, JP Morgan poured $20.035 billion in the financing of extreme fossil fuels, trailing the Bank of China and the China Construction Bank with $22.097 billion and $21.051 billion respectively.

Baclagon added, “Banks and financial institutions must stop financing coal and fossil fuels if we are to keep global warming below 1.5 degree Celsius, which is the safest level still possible and is also the goal of the Paris climate agreement”.

Climate justice activists protest in front of the JP Morgan office in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), to call for the multinational bank to stop funding coal and dirty energy.

Don’t Fund Fossils

Ian Rivera, coordinator of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) declared, “In behalf of the Filipino people, who are part of vulnerable communities most threatened by extreme weather patterns brought by global warming, the PMCJ is calling on JP Morgan to stop funding coal – the dirtiest fossil fuel of them all.

Rivera clarified, “Global warming due to fossil fuel use has led to the tragic demise of nearly 6,500 Filipinos who faced supertyphoon Haiyan/Yolanda in November 2013. The impacts of coal-fired power plants on air and water pollution, as well as its effects on the health of surrounding communities, is highly documented”.

Climate justice activists protest in front of the JP Morgan office in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), to call for the multinational bank to stop funding coal and dirty energy.

Invest in Renewables

Ben Muni of Greenpeace Southeast Asia explained, “Investing in coal poses a huge reputational risk for banks and investors as people are realizing the world over that it is one of the biggest contributor to climate change”.

“Not only that, it is also an investment risk. Coal phase-out is taking off globally and we will fight for it to speed up in the Philippines. Therefore, coal infrastructure will soon become stranded assets. We urge JP Morgan Chase to instead support clean and renewable energy such as solar and power, which is getting cheaper and more competitive with each passing day,” he furthered.

Muni added, “In its environmental and social policy framework, JP Morgan has stopped the financing of new coal-fired power plants in high-income OECD countries. Yet it favors the exporting of such a dirty and outdated energy source to developing countries. This position rests on the myth of cheap coal. Coal is not cheap. It exacts a huge cost in terms of the lives and livelihoods of people and communities”.

Reclaim Power for Energy Transformation

Lidy Nacpil, coordinator of the Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development (APMDD) concluded, “This protest at JP Morgan is also part of the Reclaim Power wave of actions by peoples movements and communities around the world for the entire month of October. Reclaim Power is for a just energy transformation away from the current profit-oriented, corporate-driven, large energy systems, dominated by fossil fuels, and from the continued energy poverty of more than 2 billion people in the world. Reclaim Power urgently calls for building democratic, distributed renewable energy systems that ensures universal access and is used for fueling sustainable and equitable development.