The four Negros Island bishops issued a collegial pastoral statement today opposing the construction of a proposed coal-fired power plant in San Carlos City, Negros Occidental.
SMC Global Power Holdings Corp. is proposing to build a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant in the city.
“The dark specter of fossil fuels remains with a proposed coal-fired plant in San Carlos City, hanging over our future, exacerbating climate change, threatening our resources, our environment, our health, and our sustainable development,” San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, Bacolod Bishop Patricio Buzon, Dumaguete Bishop Julito Cortes, and Kabankalan Bishop Louie Galbines said.
“Let us work together to increase access to clean, renewable, and sustainable energy. Let us affirm our commitment to stewardship and to a clean development path that says no to coal and yes to renewable energy technologies that are accessible to everyone,” they said.
Based on overwhelming scientific evidence, the U.N. Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change has urged the phasing out of fossil fuels, stating that coal-fired electricity must end by 2050 to address climate change and its dangerous impacts, they pointed out.
They also said a coal-fired power plant would take many years and millions of pesos to build, adding to the country’s long-term collective debt, and with no accounting for all its social, environmental, and health impacts.
Coal-fired plants pump out particulate matter or dust that is small enough to slip through a typical mesh filter that has been linked to increased rates of asthma and other respiratory diseases, translating also into billions of pesos in health care costs and lost productivity, the bishops added.
The governors of both Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental recently reiterated their categorical opposition to unsustainable coal-fired power plants, they pointed out.
“Let us stand firm together in Negros — with each other and with our civic leaders — to oppose any new coal-fired power plants and to phase out those still in operation,” the bishops urged.
This would collectively affirm the message of Pope Francis that the “ desire to ensure energy for all must not lead to the undesired effect of a spiral of extreme climate changes due to a catastrophic rise in global temperatures, harsher environments, and increased levels of poverty.”
The bishops pointed out that Negros Island is a renewable energy hub, with nine solar power, eight biomass, and ten hydropower plants with a combined capacity of 579.43 MW.
“In our dioceses, we are increasingly demonstrating that sustainable energy practices work for us and for our communities. Decentralized rooftop solar energy systems in the dioceses of Bacolod and San Carlos, for example, show how small-scale distributed renewable energy generation is climate-friendly, sustainable, and affordable,” the bishops said.
“Not only is renewable energy functional and accessible, but it is also competitive and more affordable. Coal-driven power will never truly be cheap, especially when we factor in the numerous environmental, social, and health costs associated with its usage,” they added.
4 Negros bishops urge unity with civic leaders to oppose coal-fired power plants was originally published by Carla P. Gomez for Inquirer.net