Living Laudato Si’ Philippines (LLS) has expressed its support for the Department of Energy (DOE) and its recent moratorium on new coal-fired power plants in the country.
According to the group, the temporary suspension of new coal-fired power plants is a necessary step toward initiating a just transition to renewable energy sources. It comes as the national energy sector is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and a major environmental polluter in the Philippines and on the global level.
The moratorium also signals the long-overdue beginning of a fuller development of renewable energy resources—such as solar and wind—in the country more than a decade after the passage of the Renewable Energy Act. (Read: Vatican Applauds ‘Diocese of Maasin’ for Renewable Energy Efforts)
“As one of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of the climate crisis, the Philippines has the moral imperative to avoid following in the same pollutive pathways to socioeconomic growth by high-income nations that have resulted in the climate and environmental crisis being experienced today,” said LLS executive director Rodne Galicha.
Road to Sustainability
The phasing out of coal and other pollutive industries and transitioning to renewable energy resources are key calls included in global and local faith documents—some of which are Pope Francis’ encyclical letter Laudato si’: On Care for Our Common Home, and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) 2019 Pastoral Letter on Ecology.
The moratorium declared by the DOE could turn the country’s energy systems and institutions into models that not only respond to the cries of the earth and the poor, but also drive the nation toward total sustainability. (Read: Catholic Groups Urge Duterte to Reject Coal, Ban Fossil Fuels)
“We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels—especially coal—needs to be progressively replaced without delay,” said Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ #165.
Just and Fair Transition
While the DOE moratorium is welcomed, Galicha says the LLS is still concerned that the energy department allows geothermal projects to become fully owned by foreign entities. “Even though this is intended to break the monopolies in the current power sector and spur the development of cleaner energy sources, this potentially places the growth of local industries, employment of many Filipinos, and even our ecosystems and patrimony at risk,” Galicha said.
This is why the LLS has called on the DOE to turn this pronouncement on banning new coal-fired power plants into a national policy which includes clear provisions on just and fair transition. (Read: Local Church in Quezon Reiterates Opposition to Kaliwa Dam Project)
According to the group, the DOE must ensure through an inclusive, transparent process that this policy is aligned with relevant national plans and strategies—including the Philippine Energy Plan and the Nationally Determined Contributions to the fulfillment of the goals of the Paris Agreement.
They also added that the DOE must complement this policy with adequate and strict implementation of existing national laws and policies in ensuring a cleaner, more competitive, and consumer-sensitive energy sector.