MAC/20: Mines and Communities

CARRYING CARBON TO COPENHAGEN: Philippines

Published by MAC on 2009-12-14

Country mining profile #4

Although not classisfiable as a "small island state", the Philippines archipelago consists of over 7,000 islands.

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the country is therefore ideally suited for adoption of wave power - along with wind and other "renewables" - in order to source its energy needs.

Nonetheless, says the organisation, numerous coal-fired power plants are scheduled for construction from the new year.

One of these, in Southern Mindanao, was the target of significant citizen protests on  this year's Earth Day. One of the main purposes of the Massim plant, it's believed, is to provide electricity for the huge proposed Xstrata-Saggitarius gold mine at Tampakan. See: http://www.minesandcommunities.org/article.php?a=9220

WWF-Philippines points out that, because of a paucity of coal within its own borders, the Philippines' must rely on imports.

The group estimates that over 35% of the country's CO2 emissions currently derive from coal burning - not to mention large amounts of mercury.  

Little wonder, then, that civil society groups attending last week's Copenhagen summit were "outraged" at what they saw as their government's craven bowing to US and BRIC countries' sabotage of efforts to conclude a binding, realistic, emissions' reduction treaty.


Philippine climate activists outraged at outcome of Copenhagen climate talks

Philippines Climate Watch Alliance Press Release

20 December 2009

Philippine climate activists dismay over Copenhagen Accord

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK - Climate activists from the Philippines express their dismay and opposition to the non-binding Copenhagen Accord and the adoption made by the Philippine government for it in the recent concluded 15th Conference of Parties (COP 15) in Copenhagen.

“We saw it coming. Based on the earlier pronouncements of the US officials before the COP 15, the US and other rich industrial countries are working for a non-binding international climate agreement,” says Mr. Clemente Bautista of the environmental activists group KALIKASAN People’s Network for the Environment and convenor of Philippine Climate Watch Alliance (PCWA). KALIKASAN-PNE and PCWA were among the several Philippine-based organizations that participate in the talks by raising awareness on the environmental issues faced by the local grassroots sectors.

The Copenhagen Accord was brokered by the United States during a closed door meeting last Friday night with the BASIC countries: Brazil, South Africa, India and China. Several third world countries including the Philippines and Columbia which are close allies of the US also help in brokering the deal. Riddled with transparency issues, the document failed to come up with a binding commitment for a significant global carbon reduction.

“We are terribly disappointed over the Philippine delegation’s decision to lobby and support the non-binding Copenhagen Accord which does not commit the developed countries to specific targets on emissions cuts and the a deadline of implementation. The Philippines is very vocal in demanding a binding commitment for a 45% carbon reduction from rich capitalist countries. Also the Philippines was previously a key player in consolidating the position of the G77 in the climate negotitation. But with the pressure from US officials like Sec. Hillary Clinton and President Arroyo’s action to remove progressive personalities and climate experts in the Philippine delegation among them Ms. Bernarditas Muller, our delegation easily folded up and supported the US brokered Copenhagen Accord in the conference,” explains Mr. Bautista.

“The undemocratic process that the Copenhagen Accord went through and the bullying of the American delegation show how rich countries like the US preserve its interests at the expense of the welfare of the poor nations and the environment,” adds Mr. Bautista.

The Accord sets the target to limit global temperature to a maximum of 2 degrees instead of the 1.5 degrees demanded by African and small island countries like Sudan and Tuvalu. Even though the document promises to review on 2015 the possibility of reaching the 1.5 degrees target, various groups who attended the COP15 are skeptic if the review will even take place.

Meanwhile, youth from the Philippines voiced their displeasure over Philippine support given to the Accord.

“They (Philippine delegation) bargained the future of the Filipino youth for a few billion pesos of climate aid that is not even confirmed to benefit them because the treaty is non-binding.” says Ms. Marjorie Pamintuan of Agham Youth. Ms. Pamintuan participated in the COP15 with 350.org, an international movement campaigning for the lowering the carbon in the atmosphere to 350ppm.

Aside from the 2 degrees Celsius limit, the accord supposedly commits the developed countries to raise climate funds for vulnerable nations.

“The $30 billion that is to be provided by rich countries for vulnerable nations between 2010 and 2012, and the $100 billion dollars from public and private sources to be available after 2020 could hardly be considered any help at all since majority of these will be in the form of loans. Like in the past, foreign loans will again bury the Filipinos into much deeper national debt and higher taxes,” adds Ms. Pamintuan.

Ms. Pamintuan further points out that “additional national debts means larger budget cuts for services like education and health since a large portion of the national budget is appropriated for debt servicing. With a destroyed environment, unhealthy bodies and without education, what kind of future does the Filipino youth have?”

Meggie Nolasco, spokeperson of alliance of climate activists PCWA also lambasted President Arroyo for supporting the US and the climate accord.

“Mrs. Arroyo came home proud of the $380 million pledge of clean technology and forestry investment funds from the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. However, these funds will most likely be allocated to hoax technological and market-based solutions like ‘clean’ coal power plants, forest and biofuel plantations. These will further facilitate the exploitation of our energy and forest resources and will surely result to massive degradation and pollution of our environment by foreign corporations,” explains Ms. Nolasco.

Under the Copenhagen Accord, the REDD Plus (reducing emission from forest degradation and deforestation) another market-based mechanism were introduced. Governments and private will be given financial rewards and carbon emission credits for ‘preserving’ their forest. REDD plus, in principle, will allow the privatization of forest lands and resources to the hands of private corporations such as logging companies.

Ms. Nolasco explains further adds that “if the government is serious on addressing climate change, it should prioritize people’s needs by immediately scrapping destructive environmental policies like the Mining Act of 1995, stop the building of new coal projects and preserve our national patrimony. At the same time, it should uphold Philippine sovereignty and act in the interest of the Filipino people by standing firmly with the other nations in demanding that developed countries, especially the US, to commit to an effective, fair and legally binding climate deal. Any further delays in coming up with effective solutions will jeopardize the whole planet.” ends Ms. Nolasco.

###

Reference:
Clemente Bautista Jr. National Coordinator, Kalikasan-PNE 09228449787
Marjorie Pamintuan, AGHAM Youth, 00175806990.
Meggie Nolasco, spokesperson, Philippine Climate Watch Alliance, 0927805008.

PCWA is a Philippine-based multisectoral alliance of individuals and organizations engaged in climate change advocacy. This is in response to the growing global campaign to address the issue of climate change and to get underway a corresponding, yet, grassroots-oriented campaign in the Philippines.

Philippine Climate Watch Alliance
#26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City
Tel.: +63 2 9248756; fax: +63 2 9209099; email:pcwa.secretariat@gmail.com


Green groups lament ‘dismal' climate change pact

RP urged to drop coal power

By Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Inquirer Visayas

20 December 2009

ILOILO CITY, Philippines-Environmental groups lamented what they called the dismal end of the global summit on climate change in Copenhagen and issued a challenge to the Philippines.

"It was a major disappointment and it has stopped the momentum of efforts to push for a concerted global effort to address climate change by reducing carbon emission," Von Hernandez, executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a telephone interview on Sunday.

Hernandez said the non-binding "Copenhagen Accord," which set no overall target for curbing greenhouse gas emissions "does not really move the issue of addressing climate change forward."

The accord was agreed on by the United States, China, South Africa, and India.

Hernandez said the absence of clear targets for reducing toxic gas emissions and legal obligations of states would delay the implementation of comprehensive and long-term solutions to address global warming
and climate change.

"The world is still on the brink of a climate disaster. The longer the solution takes, the more difficult it gets," Hernandez said.

In a statement, Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo said the Copenhagen Climate Summit came to an "inglorious, incoherent, and fiercely disputed close."

Naidoo said that instead of forging a historic deal to avert climate chaos, leaders of the world's most powerful countries have "betrayed future and current generations. Averting climate chaos has just gotten a whole lot harder."

While some countries including the Philippines have hailed the accord as a step forward, Naidoo refuted this view, pointing out that it has not even been formally adopted by the conference and did not contain strong measures for emission reductions in developed countries.

"It is a major concession to climate polluting industries, especially in the fossil fuel sector, which lobbied hard to undermine a deal and now has a license to continue to pollute," Naidoo said.

The Iloilo-based Madia-as Ecological Movement (MEM) said mere pledges would not solve global warming and climate change.

"What is urgently needed is for big countries like the United States and China, which are the top producers of carbon emissions, to reduce their emissions," said MEM coordinator Ma. Geobelyn Lopez.

Greenpeace said the establishment of a new Climate Funding Mechanism, involving up to $100 billion for developing countries to protect their forest and help adapt to the climate change, was among the "few plus points" of the summit.

But it said there was also an absence of deforestation targets.

"Although the fund could thankfully undermine the use of carbon projects and offsetting tricks of developed countries, the lack of [deforestation reduction] targets is a loophole, which will see the positive impact of real efforts to reduce deforestation undermined by national activities, which will lead to international leakage," Greenpeace said.

Deforestation accounts for a fifth of greenhouse gas emissions, according to Hernandez.

He said that the setback in curbing carbon emissions would heighten the impact of climate change and extreme weather conditions especially in developing countries like Philippines.

He cited the high number of casualties and the extensive damage brought by typhoons in the Philippines.

He said the Philippine government should match its declarations supporting efforts to curb carbon emission by abandoning its policies that promote coal mining and coal-fired power plants.

"It doesn't help for leaders to continue investing in coal exploration and coal-fired power plants. We must invest in green (renewable) energy because it is an investment for the future," Hernandez said.


Not a cool idea: WWF raises alert on planned coal plants

Perspective, written by Jun Cruz, Business Mirror

25 November 2009

WITH the historic Copenhagen climate talks just weeks away, the Philippines--tempered by a recent spate of destructive typhoons--is poised to go green with the recent passage of the Philippine Climate Change Act of 2009 (RA 9729) and the Renewable Energy Act of 2008 (RA 9513). The fight begins at home, however.

Numerous coal-fired power plants, undoubtedly the dirtiest source of energy, are set to be erected in 2010.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is vehemently opposing these plants, stressing that similarly priced, inexhaustible and cleaner energy sources are already available.

WWF-Philippines recently laid out its strong stand against coal-fired power plants, and called out to those in the power sector to prioritize smarter green technologies.

WWF-Philippines maintains that the era for aggressive renewable energy (RE) options has come, and the continued construction of all coal-fired power plants nationwide belongs to a period that must come to an end.

Says WWF Climate Change and Energy Programme Director Yeb Sano, "The power industry is the biggest contributor of greenhouse gases to the Earth's already-packed atmosphere. Worse, fossil-based sources such as coal plants are the most prevalent emitters of carbon dioxide [CO2]. Since renewable energy sources can provide the same amount of power and the technologies needed to efficiently harness these sources are currently available, and since the Renewable Energy Act provides very attractive incentives that boost the viability and profitability of these zero-emission energy options, we oppose the building of all coal-fired power plants nationwide."

Power generation from coal plants contributes over 35 percent of the country's CO2 emissions, says WWF. Among the proposed coal projects is a 200-MW circulating fluidized bed (CFB) power plant set to be erected in Naga, Cebu. The P5.7-billion ($120 million) plant is a joint venture of Kephilco and Salcon Power Corporation.

In Toledo City, Cebu Energy plans to construct three coal plants with a working capacity of 82-MW each.

Panay Energy Development Corporation (PEDC), a subsidiary of the Global Business Power Corp., is also building a 164-MW CFB plant worth P19 billion ($400 billion) in Barangay Ingore, Iloilo.

Another 200-MW CFB plant is set to be erected in the municipality of Maasim in Mindanao 's Sarangani province. The P21.3-billion ($450 million) Southern Mindanao 200-MW project is spearheaded by Conal Holdings, a joint-venture company of Alsons Consolidated Resources and EGCO International, a company based in Thailand.

Most of the coal used for Philippine power generation is imported--with over 10 million tons of coal shipped into the country yearly. Among the deleterious effects of burning coal are polluted air, acid rain, aggravated asthma, poisoned aquatic life and the possible exposure to radioactive materials such as uranium and thorium. Today, 50 percent of global mercury emissions stem from Asian fossil-based power plants, according to data cited by WWF.

In Concepcion, Iloilo, a planned 100-MW CFB plant under the DMCI Power Corp. was scaled down to 60 MW--largely because local cooperatives have decided to source out the majority of their power from renewable energy sources.

Cheaper and cleaner alternatives

Fortunately, notes WWF, the country has been blessed with an abundance of indigenous sources of clean, renewable energy. "The Philippines is the world's second-largest producer of geothermal energy," points out WWF Asia-Pacific Energy Policy Coordinator Rafael Senga. "We also have tremendous wind resources just waiting to be tapped. All we need are key industry leaders in the coal sector to take the initiative; to show the rest that a shift can be done, and done very well."

According to the Department of Energy (DOE), the country's renewable energy potential is vast--with 4,531 MW from geothermal; 13,097 MW from hydropower, 277 MBFOE from biomass; 5.0-5.1 kWh/m2/day from solar; 76,600 MW from wind and 170,000 MW from oceanic waves. The power generated from oceanic waves alone, says WWF, is enough to address the power generation needs of the entire nation for decades on end. Globally, WWF advocates the adoption of clean-energy technologies.

Adds Sano, "We are not opposed to rural development. Naturally, we need power--but it must be clean power. Coal-fired power plants seem superficially cheap today.

However, the real costs may include the loss of hundreds of the country's 7,107 islands due to rising sea levels, widespread disease from vector-carriers such as mosquitoes, plus flooded croplands and communities. If we want to avoid another Typhoon Ondoy or Pepeng, clean power is not just our best option; it is our only option. We only hope that local power developers recognize this, and realize that WWF is here to help them clean up their operations."

Already, new powerhouses in the clean power sector are emerging. In October the DOE approved 87 renewable energy projects--ranging from wind power projects from Alternergy Philippine Holdings Corp., to hydropower ventures from First Gen Mindanao Hydropower Corp., to initiatives by the Energy Development Corp. to tap local geothermal sources--where there were more eager bidders than geothermal sites.

Together, the 87 projects are expected to generate a total of 4042-MW. WWF lauds these industry leaders and encourages others to follow suit.

World leaders are set to meet in Copenhagen next month to iron out fresh agreements that spell out deep binding targets for the world's industrialized nations to curb carbon emissions. Among the outputs it aims for, says WWF, is a 40-percent reduction of current emissions for developing countries by 2020 in order to avert serious adverse impacts on vulnerable developing countries like the Philippines.



Maasim coal power plant construction to begin 1st quarter 2010

by MindaNews

18 November 2009

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/18 November) -- An Alcantara-led power generation firm is negotiating with contractors to construct the 200-megawatt (MW) coal-fired power plant in nearby Maasim, Sarangani within the first quarter of 2010, Joseph Nocos, Conal Holdings Corporation vice president for business development, said. Nocos declined to name the contractors but hinted that internal funds may be utilized initially to keep the project right on track.

He added the firm will give a down payment for the winning contractor before construction starts at the end of the first quarter of 2010.

Conal Holdings is 60% owned by Filipino Conglomerate, Alsons Corp and the rest held by the Electricity Generating Public Co. Ltd., Thailand's largest power producer.

Outside of that corporate structure, Nocos said the company is negotiating to attract investors to the $450 million coal plant project.

Gregorio Gonzales, Conal Holdings power plant manager, earlier identified the prospective investors as Aboitiz Power Corp and Toyota Tsusho.

Last April, Environment Secretary Joselito Atienza, Jr. issued the company an environmental compliance certificate, giving the green light for Conal Holdings to push through with the project located in a world-class diving spot.

Environmentalist groups such as the World Wide Fund for Nature and Greenpeace and the local Catholic Church and other local organizations are opposing the project on concerns over human health and pollution.

Nocos explained that the power plant will make use of the latest in circulating fluidized bed technology.

"This will ensure that the sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide emissions of the power station will be substantially below the limits prescribed by the Clean Air Act, guaranteeing that the operation of the plant will be clean and safe for the environment," he said.

Gonzales said they would also set up a carbon sink by planting trees in 7,500 hectares to absorb the carbon dioxide emissions of the power plant.

The carbon sink will cost some $7.5 million, he said.

Among the trees identified for planting in idle or grassy portions of the town and neighboring areas are mango, rubber, coffee and forest trees.

Gonzales said that 4,000 farmers could benefit from the forestation project of Conal Holdings.

Sarangani Governor Miguel Dominguez' family owns Conal Holdings. Conal stands for Conrado Alcantara, the governor's grandfather. (MindaNews)

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