Ending the romance with dirty coal

By: Atty. Gloria Estenzo Ramos July 27,2015 - 07:14 AM

Why is the most vulnerable and poster country to climate impacts still gung-ho about coal? It defies reason and logic to build more climate-change causing coal power plants amid the indubitable fact that burning coal and other fossil fuels  increases the already dangerous  over-the-limit carbon concentration in the global atmosphere.

Needless to say, coal has no place in an over-heated planet. Aside from the climate impacts, burning it emits polluting gases and hazardous by-products such as coal ash which contains mercury, cadmium, arsenic, among other toxic properties. Its proper disposal should be continuously monitored.

People are not even aware of the health risks in living near a coal power plant. Why the higher-than-average occurrence of health and respiratory ailments and cancer for residents  is a question that should be answered.

In addition, in a country like ours where data to monitor emissions and quality of air and water are not as accessible, national inventory of greenhouse gases is still in the pipeline,  accountability and transparency are big hurdles, allowing another coal power plant to operate is not welcome.

Constituents in Palawan, Batangas and in Mindanao are furious why their respective beloved community has been approved to  host one.

To them, the required collective consent is wanting. The Catholic Church is set to gather a million signatures in the attempt to stop their proliferation in this biodiversity-rich land and seas.

Our environment suffers  and we cannot afford to destroy it further.

If we are to strengthen the coping capacity of our people to climate change, we should start restoring the ecological integrity of our environment.

The world has not forgotten,  and with more reason we should not,  the tragedies that our people suffered, some of whom still endure as a result of the super typhoons rampaging our islands.

Typhoon Haiyan a.k.a. Yolanda has become synonymous with the Philippines and our continuing vulnerability that will inflict beyond this  generation.

When do we learn to connect the dots of cause and effects and lift ourselves from the most appalling state of collective denial that the weather aberration experienced in various parts the world is far from being attributable to “natural” causes?

Our fossil fuel-dependent lifestyle is the culprit. It has to be curtailed now, not later when it is too late to do something about it.

June this year is considered the hottest month ever in the history of the world. Does this report make a dent in how you make choices  about your consumption of food, energy, water, manage materials,  or did it even bother you, at all?

Can we honestly just be contented in commenting about the changing climate, complain about the traffic congestion, pollution and water shortage and not assume responsibility to act on the issues?

Worse, can we completely allow decision-makers  to shape our future by default?

Or, as an engaged citizen,  do we make sure that the mandates, standards and procedures set by our laws are complied with by state agencies which are duty-bound to protect and serve us, the sovereign people?

The Service Contract entered into by the DOE allowing offshore drilling for oil in Tañon Strait Protected Seascape and the sidestepping of the required  process set by the Constitution and our laws on Environmental Impact Assessment and protected areas are clear examples of failure and refusal by government agencies to respect our rights and the statutes meant to protect all of us.

It took the courage and determination of our citizens including the badly affected fisherfolk to assert their rights and sue in court to make our laws work. There should be more of such citizens who would not hesitate to promote environmental justice not just for themselves but for everyone.

The practice of some local government units  to pass resolution by simply posing no objection to projects such as reclamation and coal power plants that heavily impact the health, livelihood and welfare of their constituents and the integrity of our natural life support systems  may be construed as an abandonment of their clear solemn duty to protect us and our vastly threatened environment.

The local authorities should re-examine their devolved responsibility of environmental protection now clearly lodged in their shoulders under the Local Government Code.

Hopefully,  DILG  and the supervising LGUs will stop this reckless display of uncaring behavior which makes it so easy to allow operations of ecological destructive projects.

But still, scientists, advocates and lately, the Catholic Church, through its strongest voice, Pope Francis,  are one in hoping that soon winds of change for a more sustainable lifestyle are forthcoming.

But that change will have to emanate from each determined citizen like you.

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TAGS: Batangas, Catholic Church, Department of Energy, DILG, DOE, Environmental Impact Assessment, LGU, Local Government Code, Mindanao, Palawan, Tañon Strait, Typhoon Haiyan, Yolanda

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