Is there really a clean coal?

HUNDREDS of environmental advocates and members of people's movements marched through the tight security blockade from La Salle Taft to Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), where the East Asian Summit was taking place last November 14.

The groups were protesting moves by some big Asian economies principally backed by Japan PM Shinzo Abe and US President Donald Trump for the continued use of “clean coal” purportedly to power ASEAN nations' growing economies.

“Coal has no place in a region like Southeast Asia,” said Sanlakas Secretary-General Aaron Pedrosa. 

"US and East Asian coal companies, represented by their respective nation's leaders, are riding on the ASEAN drive to further expand the region's economy by peddling coal-sourced power as the fuel for Southeast Asia's economic growth” he added. 

Pedrosa and other environment warriors like him believe that far from being a tool of development, coal use within the region ensures profit only for the few coal companies but could spells death and destruction for the region.

I personally believe that economic development especially of poor countries like ours should be one of the paramount goals of our leaders.

However, it should not come at the expense of the people and the environment especially since majority of countries in the Asian region, including the Philippines are vulnerable to the effects of global warming and climate change.

To recall, ahead of the East Asian Summit, Japan has signed concession contracts with Vietnam to build a new coal-fired power plant, and has also promoted its clean coal technology to ASEAN nations. 

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has made pronouncements on boosting US coal export and targeting Asia as one of its prospective coal export markets.

According to Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED) Legal Research Officer Atty. Avril De Torres, the coal push is a false solution to powering ASEAN's economic growth.

Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) Energy Program Officer Glenn Ymata stressed that coal mining places ASEAN nations in danger of being hit by irreparable environmental damages. 

The arguments raised by these environment crusaders appear to have substance and it will do the people a great favor if the Duterte takes a second hard look on the proposal.

“In a world on a race to reduce its carbon emissions, investing in and expanding coal make little environmental and economic sense,” said Ymata.

He may be right. By the way, is there such a thing as clean coal?

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