Duterte’s coal trade plan, a ‘losing proposition’, says climate action advocate

Published July 14, 2020, 5:23 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) executive director Renato Redentor Constantino on Tuesday said President Duterte’s plan to open up the country’s borders to coal trade a “losing proposition.” 

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

Constantino maintained “new coal is a threat to grid stability and public interest” noting the  “terminal decline of coal as a power source.”

“If companies are foolish enough to pursue this course, the company itself, rather than working families and small businesses, should wholly bear the risks,” he added. 

“As things stand today, any additional costs and risks are simply passed along to the consumer without regulatory intervention, and imported coal prices will likely continue to rise, as they have largely done for the past two years,” Constantino said.

He went on to cite how global capital has been fleeing the thermal coal sector even before the pandemic.

“Ayala recently announced that it will fully exit coal by 2030, and Bloomberg forecasts no more coal power will likely be built in the country past 2023, if at all. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas also released its new Sustainable Finance Framework last April, which sets the stage not only for pricing climate and transition risk, but also for valuing climate-resilient and low-carbon opportunities,” he said. 

As an alternative, he pointed out speeding the shift to renewable and decentralized energy would improve energy access, lower power bills, and avoid pollution in the long run, “all of which would help families cope with the impacts of the lockdown and usher in a better normal.”

“It would also attract investments and create new jobs, and reduce our reliance on expensive, polluting and imported coal and diesel,” he said. 

In a recorded speech aired on television on Tuesday,  President Duterte told military troops in Jolo that he was “ready to open the borders” for trade, including coal.