Climate advocates raise alarm on coal power

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MANILA, July 22, 2015 – Some 50, 000 people may die in the next 25 years from pollution-related health conditions if the country continues its heavy dependence on coal to generate electricity, a convenor of a group of climate advocates said in a statement issued on July 21.

The 2015 Coal Atlas, which is published annually by Germany’s Heinrich Böll, reported that over 18, 000 people in Europe die every year due to polluted fumes from coal power plants, said Gerry Arances, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) National Coordinator.

Citing the Sierra Club as source, he also said an estimated deaths of 5, 200; 8, 100 heart attacks; 86, 000 asthma attacks; and $2.4 billion in health costs in the United States were predicted due to coal’s environmental effects.

International institutions like the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change also called on governments to stop the utility of coal power and fossil fuel energy, Arances said.

Pope Francis shares the same position, he added.

According to Arances, despite this and the US and European countries’ decommissioning of their coal power plants, the Department of Energy (DOE) continue to invite coal industry investors to the country.

The Aquino administration has approved the construction of 59 new coal plants and issued 118 mining permits, he said. Another 15 more coal power projects are in the pipeline for approval.

The number of deaths in the next 25 years due to coal power plants pollution of the air could surpass that of super typhoon Yolanda, Arances said.

The Power for People Network (P4P), environmentalist Gina Lopez, and former Puerto Princesa mayor Edward Hagedorn also recently joined the PMCJ in its call to stop coal power generation in the country. (Oliver Samson/CBCPNews)

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