Philippine activists call for global coal mining moratorium

Priest accuses fossil fuel producers of rights violations as a result of climate change

  • Joe Torres, Manila, Philippines
  • UCA News, December 8, 2015

Filipino environmental activists called for a global moratorium on coal mining in a collective presentation at meeting parallel to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris this week.

"Doing this in Southeast Asia will keep 19 billion tons of coal under the ground," Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment, told the International Rights of Nature Tribunal on Dec. 5.

"Imagine if we can do a coal mine moratorium, millions of hectares of forests will be preserved," said Bautista, speaking on behalf of Southeast Asian delegates to the meeting.

The Southeast Asian activists were supporting the "Kiribati Proposal" to declare a global moratorium on coal mining.

The Kiribati Moratorium is a proposal made by the government of Kiribati, a small Pacific island nation, which calls on all countries to adopt a moratorium on new coal mining projects. 

The proposal is premised on the scientific consensus that 80 percent of all remaining coal reserves must be kept in the ground by 2050 if the world is to avoid catastrophic climate shifts.

In his speech, Bautista also proposed expanding the moratorium to the construction of new coal-fired power plants.

"In the Philippines alone, if there are no new coal plants we will avoid the release of 60 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere," he said.

'Carbon Majors' violate human rights

Father Edu Gariguez, executive secretary of the social action secretariat of the Philippine Catholic bishops' conference, earlier underlined the need to run after big polluters including coal, oil, and gas producers for their "climate sins" that affect mostly the poor.

The priest, a recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize, presented a petition in Paris against so-called "Carbon Majors" for "violating human rights resulting from impacts of climate change."

"Carbon Majors" in the Philippines violate and pose threats to Filipinos' rights to life, water, sanitation, adequate housing, and self-determination, Father Gariguez said.

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