Greenpeace blocks coal unloading

THE Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior yesterday blocked coal shipments at the Pagbilao power plant in Quezon province in protest of the plant’s impending expansion.

The Rainbow Warrior anchored alongside the coal ship “Medi Firenze,” unloading a cargo of coal at the Pagbilao plant’s loading pier, and prevented a bigger shipment of coal from the 223-meter vessel “Sam John Spirit” standing by.

A giant banner that read “Quit Coal” on the Rainbow Warrior’s masts sought to drive home the message that the Philippine government should stop building and expanding coal-fired power plants.

“Being one of the countries most vulnerable to climate impacts, the Philippines should address climate change by immediately stopping the expansion and construction of new coal plants. The Philippines already produces 54 percent more power than it needs. We should invest in improving the power grid rather than expanding a coal plant that reduces our chances of preventing dangerous climate change,” Beau Baconguis, campaign manager of Greenpeace Southeast Asia said on board “Rainbow Warrior.”

Burning coal is the single biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions and a major cause of climate change. Coal emits 29 percent more carbon per unit of energy than oil and 80 percent more than gas. The Philippines has been identified as the nation most affected by climate impacts in 2006 by the NGO GermanWatch.

Upon the arrival of the “Rainbow Warrior” last Thursday, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda declared his province a “no-coal zone.”

“The Philippine government should take Albay’s declaration as an urgent call to action against climate change. It is untenable to continue our dependence on coal given its increasing price in the market and the environmental impacts attached to it. Coal will actually exacerbate our energy insecurities,” said Jasper Inventor, Greenpeace Southeast Asia climate and energy campaigner.

Greenpeace said the Philippines should send a strong message to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to lead the way in phasing out the use of coal.

Environment ministers from G8 countries will meet today with climate change at the top of their agenda.

Greenpeace has called on G8 countries to take real action against climate change and deliver an Energy Revolution that makes coal the fuel of last resort.

The Rainbow Warrior is in the Philippines to spearhead the Greenpeace “Quit Coal Tour” in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

The tour aims to promote solutions to stop climate change and a massive shift to renewable energy. (Malaya)

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