By Chuck Baclagon

It has been a hundred and twenty years since the Philippines declared itself as a nation with the promise of charting its destiny away from the meddling power of the Spanish empire that ruled the archipelago for over 300 years.

As Filipinos we all know what happened next. We were cheated of our political and economic independence, short-changed of the benefits that the promise of freedom held.

Among these failed promises is energy independence from dirty and expensive power brought about by our needless and dangerous over-dependence on coal. It is backed by no less than Duterte opening coal plants in spite of all his talk on environmental protection and climate justice.

Independence is about the ability to decide our future. In the context of climate change, it is about choosing a life that would guarantee we not only survive but thrive in the midst of a warming climate.

In spite of the shadow cast by fossil-fuel dependence, there are rays of hope to be found in the emerging news on the energy front proving that a fossil-free world is still possible. Beyond its adverse health and environmental impacts, it is already becoming more apparent that coal is bad for business.

A recent study from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis has revealed that the Philippines’ financial sector is massively exposed to the eventual stranding of all coal plants in the pipeline, amounting to more than 10,000 MW in overcapacity and P1.05 trillion (US$20.8 billion) in financial risk, all of which will ultimately be shouldered by consumers through higher bills.

Rise for a fossil free world!

The Global Climate Action Summit will be the largest gathering of non-national governments on climate ever. The Summit has invited every mayor, governor, and local leader in the world to make a bold climate commitment to help the world reach the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Posted by 350 Pilipinas on Thursday, June 7, 2018

The forecast for coal is bad enough to even force the Ayala Group’s energy arm, AC Energy, to announce its plans to sell as much as 50 percent of its coal energy assets, and expand its renewable portfolio not just in the country but even across Asia Pacific.

Meanwhile, the German insurance giant Allianz has also revealed its plans to stop insuring coal plants and mines, adding that it aims to divest from the sector completely by 2040.

Even in Asia, the last bastion of coal dependence cracks are already beginning to weaken coal’s grip in our energy sector. Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation recently signaled it may rethink its financing of coal-fired power projects. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group likewise announced its adoption of environmental and social policy rules for loans and underwriting, a first among Japan’s megabanks. It is a small but definitive step forward for the nation’s banking industry, which lags behind global rivals shifting away from one of the most-polluting fuels.

These current trends lend credence to our claim that transitioning from coal to renewable energy has benefits both for the climate and our economy.

Mothers light up Suluan Island

The mothers of Sulu-an are not only known as the light of their homes; they also light up the whole island using renewable energy. Our heartfelt gratitude goes to them and many others who light the way towards a cleaner and brighter future.

Posted by Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities on Saturday, May 12, 2018

Climate action and economics work hand in hand when it is done in such a way that is both scientifically informed and socially just. One clear example is the women-led story of Sulu-an island, which rose above the tragedy of Haiyan towards becoming the renewable energy capital of Guiuan, Eastern Samar.

The signs are all around. We should drive the momentum further especially for the leaders joining the Global Climate Action Summit in California this September.

Our ever-strengthening movement is already blocking pipelines, shutting down coal plants, and building up communities powered by renewable energy. The realization is rippling through the ranks that, if deployed thoughtfully, our pranks, stunts, flash mobs and encampments can bring about real shifts in the balance of power.

On September 8th, we will rise up once more alongside thousands of others across the world. We will send a clear message to the politicians who have been bought off by big coal: take action to stop climate change, or face the power of the people.