Church exec urges Aquino to ban coal-fired power

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Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Caritas Philippines executive secretary, joins a "climate walk" in Manila to call on the government to address climate change, October 4.

MANILA, Nov. 12, 2015— An official of Caritas Philippines called the Aquino administration to issue a moratorium on the use of coal in power generation to fight global warming.

Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Caritas executive secretary, said banning electricity from coal-fired power plants is a concrete step to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

While the Philippine government has pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 70-percent in the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions submitted to the Conference of Parties meeting in Paris next month, he said it can do more through changes on existing policies.

According to him, the Philippines has become heavily dependent on coal energy with at least 19 coal-fired power plants currently operating across the country and 20 more to be operational by year 2020.

Home to ecosystems, biodiversity

“Worse is, these coal projects are located within the peripheries of communities that are traditionally home to millions of Filipinos and are supported by rich ecosystems and bio-diversities,” Gariguez said.

Gariguez made the statement during the Interfaith Dialogue on Climate Change held in Malacañang Palace on Thursday.

The priest pointed out how coal mining contributes to climate change, endangers ecosystems as well as the health and lives of the people.

He cited as examples the strong typhoons such as “Yolanda” and “Lando” that are occurring more frequently.

‘Indescribable miseries’

“Truly, climate change-induced disasters spell indescribable miseries to our people. When we talk of climate change, we need to see real faces of suffering and feel the urgency of addressing the crisis,” he said.

The Church through the Caritas confederation has already reached out to 1.8 million people affected by Yolanda, and managed a total of Php 3.2 billion over the last two years.

But despite the rehabilitation efforts, Gariguez said “climate change and its ensuing extreme weather conditions are still hurting the most at risk population.”

Aside from the onslaught of disasters, the Goldman Environmental Prize awardee added that climate change also damages agriculture and threatens poor communities’ food security.

“The mandate from the Church is clear and unequivocal, and this can also apply to other faith-based organizations – that we need to carry out our mission to care for the earth, as part of our faith response.” (CBCP News)

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