#WagGas: No place for gas in a livable future!

Ahead Earth Day, communities affected by gas projects, environmental and clean energy advocates, fisherfolk, women, youth, civil society organizations, labor groups, consumers, and faith-based groups, launched a national campaign seeking to put a stop to the massive fleet of proposed gas power projects and liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminals in the country, saying the fossil fuel has no place in a livable future.

The launch of #WagGas, led by groups and representatives including Bishop Gerry Alminaza of the Diocese of San Carlos, Bishop Colin Bagaforo for Caritas Philippines, Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED), Oceana, Sanlakas, Conference of Major Superiors in the Philippines – JPICC (CMSP-JPICC), and Bukluran ng Mangingisda ng Batangas (BMB) raised alarm over the fossil fuel’s effects on the climate, price of electricity, communities, livelihood, and the environment.

“Gas is touted by its proponents as a clean alternative to coal, but that could not be farther from the truth. Fossil gas is made up of a greenhouse gas that is 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year period in contributing to the warming of our world – and the Philippines is choosing to expand it at a time of a climate emergency. Like coal, its fumes are also not something we would not want our communities to breathe, and wastes of gas facilities are not welcome in our lands and waters. There is no place for gas in our communities, and no place for gas in a livable future,” said Bishop Gerry Alminaza of the Diocese of San Carlos, the site of a 300 MW LNG plant proposed by San Miguel Corporation.

“We are concerned by the great disruption that putting up this whole fleet of LNG projects will cause to marine and coastal ecosystems, especially as they are being proposed along megadiverse habitats like the Verde Island Passage and Tanon Strait. We are one with the communities set to be affected by these projects. We know that it is possible to power our country without sacrificing the health of our seas and the livelihoods of many. We seek for more transparency and accountability under our current legal system that emphasizes the right of the people to a healthy environment,” added Atty. Liza Osorio of Oceana.

The Philippine government, including President Bongbong Marcos, the Department of Energy (DOE), and congress through pending bills for gas development, have been actively promoting gas as a bridge fuel as the Philippines builds its way to using more renewable energy. The groups, however, are alarmed that plans for gas will instead lock the country up to costly and dirty power.

“Fossil gas and LNG are imported, expensive, and far from secure. If our government insists on allowing gas companies to do as they please, we are building a bridge not to a genuine transition, but to a future where electricity is too costly for consumers to afford. Latest estimates from analysts suggest LNG-fired power could cost as much as Php 9/kWh in the Philippines today, and could even go higher – average LNG power prices last year globally was at Php 16/kWh. It makes no sense to tie the Philippines to decades more of fossil fuel power when we have an abundance of renewable energy – hundreds and hundreds of GW waiting to be tapped,” said Gerry Arances, Executive Director of the Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED). 

The campaign has its roots at the National Gathering of Gas-Affected Communities and Supporting Groups held on August 24-25, 2022 in Batangas.

“We unite behind the understanding that fossil gas places the well-being of communities, our environment, and our society in peril, and now show our solidarity in resisting its expansion. We decry the massive expansion of natural gas in the country, which goes against the Philippines’ best interests as a megadiverse yet a climate-vulnerable nation. From the existing 3.4 GW, gas capacity in the pipeline booms to 37.95 GW from 34 new projects, with 11 new liquefied natural gas (LNG) import terminals in the works. We heed the global call to unite in the battle against the existential threat of climate change and for the phase out of materials and processes that trigger rising global temperatures, foremost of which are the use of fossil fuels – be it coal or gas – in power generation,” reads the Batangas declaration.

The groups asserted that fossil gas is incompatible with climate, energy transition, and environmental imperatives for the Philippines. 

“This climate change is already wreaking havoc on our earth, bringing death and disease to our peoples, damaging property and infrastructures, destroying crops, bringing in much flooding, soil erosion, and landslides. More of this will happen and worsen, unless something is done NOW,” added the CMSP – Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Commission in a statement.