Therma South workers work past a coal dome and covered conveyor system of the newly-opened coal-fired power plant in Davao City. (Photo handout of Therma South)
Just over a month after the Philippines made a commitment to reduce the country's greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent by 2030, President Benigno Aquino inaugurated a 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant in the southern region of Mindanao on Jan. 8.
"This president is a hypocrite," said Ben Muni, climate and energy campaigner of Greenpeace in the Philippines. "Where is your sincerity and commitment? It seems you have forgotten your commitment in Paris," Muni said.
The Interface Development Interventions Inc. said the opening of the coal-fired power plant in Davao City is a "bad, sad way to start the year."
"We know that developed countries that have stricter environmental regulations are going away from coal. The question is, why are we allowing it? Why are we embracing it?" Mary Ann Fuertes, executive director of Idis, told ucanews.com.
In his speech, Aquino thanked Aboitiz Power, which operates the plant, for initiating the project to help in the development of the region.
"To emphasize just how significant this is, this plant's dependable capacity is roughly equivalent to one-fifth of the Mindanao grid's highest peak demand in 2015," said Aquino.
Fuertes, however, said that the "long-term impacts of the project will outweigh the benefits."
"This is the largest smokestack releasing not only carbon, but also other toxic chemicals such as heavy metals, especially mercury, polluting our air and water resources," she said.
In a statement, Aboitiz Power said the 300-megawatt power plant in Davao, which is operated by its subsidiary Therma South, is one of the "critical projects" needed to solve the "perennial Mindanao power shortage."
The coal-fired power plant aims to supply more than 20 electric cooperatives and distribution utilities across the region.
Worldwide, coal-fired power plants are recognized as the biggest source of man-made carbon dioxide emissions, which causes global warming.
In 2012, the Philippine Department of Energy reported that power generation in the Philippines was still dominated by coal at nearly 38.76 percent.