By MYRNA M. VELASCO
While many offshore banks have already decided to stop funding new coal-fired power projects, the story in the Philippine energy sector is quite the reverse, hence, church leaders and civil society groups have been urging the country’s financial sector to heed the direction being pursued by their global counterparts.
The anti-coal groups indicated that this call is anchored on “coal power’s detrimental impact to the people and the environment.”
Their plea to the Philippine banks had been articulated during the launch of the Church-CSO Empowerment for Environmental Sustainability (ECO-CONVERGENCE), which was a gathering of faith-based congregations and environmental advocates from all over Visayas island as well as from the national organizations.
A joint statement they issued stipulated that “the church, civil society organizations and advocates of clean energy gather to uphold the care of our people and our common home by urging Philippine banks still funding coal to cut off the funds.”
Coal had always been given the “dirty fuel” tag, but the Philippine energy mix policy is not keen on pulling the plug yet even for the anticipated new power plant installations.
The Philippine banks are not also showing any signs that they will stop financing coal plant projects soon – especially with forecasts that the country’s power supply-demand curve will be intersecting again by year 2022.
Even this year, the biggest power grid of Luzon is also strained, especially during the summer months.
The church and civil society leaders have noted that at least 13 local banks have underwritten about US$6.303 billion worth of coal plant expansion ventures from years 2017 to 2019 – including some currently completed power projects in the Visayas.