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Church, green groups launch ‘Withdraw from Coal’ drive in Manila

Philippine church and environmental groups have renewed calls to divest from dirty energy by launching the “Withdraw from Coal” campaign in Manila on Jan. 29.

The groups called on Philippine banking institutions “to cut off the funds” that go to coal developers and other dirty energy projects. 

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos said the campaign is a “challenge to those banks” funding coal projects “to be bringers of hope instead of destruction.” 

“Generations yet to come need not suffer coal’s deadly impacts, and these banks can and must take the lead to make sure of this by divesting from coal,” said the prelate. 

He said financial institutions should instead start investing in the future of Filipinos by advancing clean and sustainable energy.

The Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development has identified 13 local Philippine banks that invested at least US$6.3 billion from 2017 to 2019 in coal projects. 

Gerry Arances, executive director of the center, called on depositors to demand that their banks invest in clean and renewable energy.

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“As depositors, we have the right to demand [how and where] these financial institutions use our money,” said Arances. 

He said the public should put pressure on the financial institutions not to fund new coal projects, “which are high risk investments.”

In 2019, the Global Coal Exit List reported that the Philippines has the third biggest coal capacity in the pipeline at 12.014 gigawatts of new coal power. 

The Philippines has 27 existing coal-fired power plants and 29 proposed new coal projects in the pipeline. 

Catholic institutions worldwide have started to divest from dirty energy since the global movement against the climate crisis was initiated in 2015, following the release of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si. 

“The ‘Withdraw from Coal’ campaign is not new, but we need to reiterate our stand and speak louder against investing in dirty energy,” said John Din, Philippine coordinator of the Global Catholic Climate Movement.

He said that as of last year, at least 150 Catholic and religious institutions have answered the call to divest.

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