activists slam coal financiers, call for divestment from ‘dirty,
costly, deadly coal’
October 5, 2017
MAKATI CITY –
Climate justice activists, composed of civil society groups and
people’s organizations, held a concerted action today at the Bank of
the Philippine Islands (BPI) Ayala Triangle to protest the
Ayala-controlled bank’s planned financing of a new coal-fired power
plant in Atimonan, Quezon. The said bank – housed by the Philippine
Stock Exchange building where many other commercial banks are listed
as coal project investors – was also slammed by climate justice
activists for its continued financing of other coal projects.
The protesters brought
tall, inflatable, "dirty, costly, and deadly coal demons", which
served as a backdrop to a huge image of Ayala Group CEO Jaime Zobel
de Ayala, to highlight the temptations of an obsolete fossil fuel to
private banks such as BPI.
The protest action is part
of Piglas Pilipinas, a nationwide campaign for the Philippines to
break free from fossil fuels. Its main call stressed on the
importance and urgency of divesting from coal and other fossil
Coal: Not Clean, Not Cheap
“Coal is not the answer to
our country’s energy needs,” said Philippine Movement for Climate
Justice Coordinator Ian Rivera.
“Contrary to the coal
industry’s persisting propaganda, coal is neither cheap nor clean.
In fact, it has time and again been proven to be dirty, costly, and
deadly,” said Rivera.
According to Rivera, coal
is the culprit for the health problems suffered by communities that
host coal-fired power plants. He cited a Harvard study conducted in
the Philippines which found an annual estimate of 2,410 deaths as a
consequence to exposure to pollution emitted by coal plants. Rivera
stated that residents of communities that host these coal plants
often suffer from lung, cardiovascular, and skin diseases. He also
added that due to soil and water contamination from coal plant
chemicals, the residents’ livelihood is often left destroyed.
“Coal is also deadly not
just for local communities but for the rest of the world,” continued
“The burning of fossil
fuels, coal being the worst of them, is the lead contributor to
carbon emissions that aggravate global warming, which we know to be
the primary cause of stronger typhoons, longer droughts all over the
planet, and other forms of ecological disasters,” he said.
“Coal is, most of all,
expensive – with most of its costs externalized and paid for by
society at large,” said Rivera, citing huge economic losses from the
environmental, health and livelihood destruction caused by the
extraction and utilization of coal for power generation, and the
establishment and maintenance of coal facilities.
Rivera stated that the
coal industry is now being outstripped by new technologies that make
cheaper solar and wind power, citing a renewable energy sector that
continues to drive down its prices.
“Clean and sustainable
energy sources are steadily making the continued usage of coal not
only an obsolete choice, but also an inexpedient one,” said Rivera.
Reputational Risks and
“Investors and depositors
of BPI should be advised against coal financing for its reputational
risks. Most alarming of all, however, are the investment risks that
continued coal financing poses. As our country, along with the rest
of the world, moves towards renewable energy sources, coal assets
will be nothing more than stranded assets in the future,” warned
According to research
conducted by the climate justice activists, BPI is invested in
presently operating coal plants, such as the SEM Calaca in Batangas,
Team Energy Pagbilao in Quezon, Cebu Energy Development Corporation
and Toledo Power Corporation in Cebu, and GNPower Mariveles in
The group of climate
justice activists stated that BPI also has plans to invest in the
coal pipeline, particularly in the Masinloc Expansion Project in
Zambales, in the Pagbilao Energy Corporation in Quezon, the GNPower
Dinginin in Bataan, and GNPower Kauswagan in Lanao del Norte.
Other coal-fired power
plants have not disclosed their investors.
Reclaim Power 2017: Global
Wave of Actions for Just Energy Transformation
The protest at the Makati
central business district is part of the Reclaim Power Global Wave
of Actions for a just energy transformation for the entire month of
"The science of climate
change is unequivocal, it's undeniable, and so now, action to
transform our energy system is urgent and must be done immediately,”
said Asian Peoples’ Movement of Debt and Development (APMDD)
Coordinator Lidy Nacpil.
“The energy sector
produces over 35% of all climate pollution caused by humans each
year, mainly from the extraction and burning of fossil fuels like
coal, oil and gas. According to the latest numbers from the UN, over
80% of all remaining fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas will have
to remain unburned if the world is to avoid extremely dangerous
climate change,” emphasized Nacpil.
"Reclaim Power is about
demonstrating that while the current energy system fails on so many
levels, including its failure to resolve the energy poverty of 1.2
billion people in the world who continue to have no access to any
electricity, we have solutions using renewable energy technology
that can decentralize power production and actually get it to all
people in a democratic, people-controlled way," explained Nacpil.
“We need to ensure
community and public control of our energy systems, to ensure that
people’s access is prioritized over profit,” concurred 350.org
Digital Communications Campaigner and Coordinator Chuck Baclagon.
“The technology to provide
energy to all of humanity without burning the planet already exists.
Instead of continuously giving handouts to dirty energy companies,
what we need now is to direct public – and private – finance and
subsidies to encourage 100% renewable and clean energy,” Baclagon