End of coal in Quezon sought by Church leaders

The Diocese of Lucena on Monday issued a statement calling for the cancellation of three coal-fired power plant projects proposed to be built by SMC Global Power Holdings and Meralco’s Atimonan One Energy (A1E) in Quezon, which would add to the environmental degradation already suffered by the province with its existing coal fleet.

The statement, which was signed by over 100 members of the clergy including Lucena Bishop Mel Rey Uy, was sent via courier and e-mail to the coal proponents and local authorities.

“We call upon these corporations and their power subsidiaries to listen to the cry of the Earth and cancel their plans to set up this dirty, deadly, and costly source of energy. We appeal to the local and national government and their respective agencies to listen to the cry of the people of Quezon and disallow these projects and any further coal plants in our beloved province,” the priests wrote in their statement.

Municipalities under the Diocese of Lucena are already home to an installed coal capacity of at least 1,644 MW. The proposed projects would triple this with an additional 3,330 MW of coal.

 “Already, the people of Quezon have suffered respiratory and skin diseases associated with toxic coal plant emissions. They have been robbed of their land, their livelihood, and their rights from pollution, development aggression, and exclusion from decision-making processes,” the statement read.

 The Diocese’s issuance of the statement also coincides with the beginning of the Season of Creation, an annual period of prayer and action to address looming ecological issues, especially the climate crisis.

“We oppose these coal-fired power plants also because they are entirely inconsistent with the care of our Common Home so desperately needed today. Their cancellation not only prevents massive greenhouse gas emissions but will stand as a decisive rejection of all unsustainable and carbon-intensive practices here in Quezon and the rest of the country,” they said.

In recent years, coal use has been declining globally due to its contributions to climate change, destructive environmental impacts, and investment risks. Climate-vulnerable Philippines, however, has continued to expand its coal fleet.

“The Power for People Coalition stands in solidarity with communities in Quezon in their bid to abandon coal, and we commit to support this through all means available to us. No new coal project must stand in Filipinos’ way to clean and affordable energy for all,” said Gerry Arances, Convenor of P4P.

P4P along with Quezon Church and community members filed a petition against the Atimonan coal plant at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in November 2019 for A1E’s failure to adhere to environmental and community education requirements. P4P has also supported various initiatives against SMC’s proposed coal projects.

Read the Diocese of Lucena’s statement here