A medical mission conducted in Naga, Cebu in December last year by the group of Dr. Romeo Quijano, a professor at the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology in University of the Philippines(UP) -College of Medicine, proved that coal-fired power plants greatly affects people’s health. The Salcon Power Corp. (SPC)-Kepco operates in Naga.
According to a news report, people who accidentally inhaled coal ash from the operating coal-fired power plant affects their upper respiratory system. In Barangay Poblacion, Naga, 34 of 97 patients have upper respiratory infections. Some of the diseases acquired by the people within the community of Naga are hypertension, urinary tract infection, Musculosketal disorder that affects the body’s muscles, joints, tendons ligament and nerves, Koch’s pulmonary or tuberculosis and other lung-related diseases like pneumonia and acute bronchitis, arthritis, errors of refraction, malnutrition and postural hypertension among others.
Nolasco said increasing the number of coal-fired power plants in the country is misguided and downright disastrous.
Contradiction in Prevention of Climate Change
The Philippines participates in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), an international treaty that sets general goals and rules for confronting climate change.
According to Kaliksan-PNE, coal is identified as the single major source of carbon emission and air pollution in the world. “Coal accounts for one third of the emissions of global greenhouse gases, the primary cause of climate change and global warming. The power industry consumes most of the coal produced and coal-fired power plants, the main technology used to convert coal to electricity, is known as one of the dirtiest power generation technologies.”
“This contradicts our country’s commitment to prepare people to adapt to the effects of climate change and to protect people’s health,” Nolasco told Bulatlat.
Moratoruim on Coal-Fired Power Plants
On Nov. 24, Bayan Muna, Gabriela Women’s Party, Anakpawis Act Teacher’s Partylist and Kabataan have filed a house resolution calling for the immediate moratorium on the construction and/or expansion of all coal-fired power plant projects in the country until 2050.
The organizations under the Network Opposed to Coal Power Plants (No to Coal Power Plants) supported the resolution.
Nolasco, also the spokesperson of No to Coal Power Plants said the resolution “is in response to the Aquino administration’s push for two new coal power plants in Iloilo City and Cebu province to operate early next year and its commitment to foreign and local energy companies to construct four coal power plants in the country.”
However, the group clarified that they are not calling for the closure of existing coal power plants in the country. The moratorium until 2050 only goes with the deadline set by the UNFCC to stabilize global carbon emission, climate change, and global warming. The group also said that by 2050 there would be a 52 percent increase of greenhouse gas emissions if the trend in carbon emissions continues. This would result in a rise of global temperature by 1.7 – 2.4 degrees centigrade.
“Imposing a coal moratorium in the country is a big contribution to combating global warming. More so, avoiding the use of coal for power will alleviate our dependency to imported fossil fuels and dirty power technologies. Given the right policies and programs on energy, the government can definitely provide a cheap, stable and clean power supply to the Filipino people, without sacrificing the welfare of our communities and environment,” Nolasco said.
Privatization of Electric Power Industry
Tapang said there are other alternatives for generating power and the Philippines has one of the highest potential in the world in terms of geothermal resources. Added to this, Tapang said, the country’s solar and wind power potentials are more than enough to replace existing power generation.
Other indigenous renewable energy sources are biomass and water. Tapang said these industries needed only to be tapped and developed.
“It is the responsibility of the government to build the power plants and generate, transmit and distribute the electricity in the country. However, the government privatized the National Power Corporation (NPC) and let private companies to develop the electric power industry,” Tapang explained, citing the Electric Power Industry Act of 2001 (Epira). “The problem is these private companies will not build plants if they will not gain profits,” said Tapang.
“The government should have developed other energy sources like renewable energy instead of passing an anti-people law like Epira,” Tapang explained. (Bulatlat.com)