At the COP 21 sidelines: Pinoy makes case for global coal moratorium at
International Rights of Nature Tribunal

Kalikasan PNE press release

7 December 2015

Speaking on behalf of all Southeast Asian peoples, a Filipino
environmental leader from the Kalikasan People’s Network for the
Environment (Kalikasan PNE) called for a global coal moratorium in a
collective presentation at the International Rights of Nature Tribunal,
held in parallel to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21).

“We the Filipino people, and the people of Southeast Asia at large, are
forwarding the Kiribati Proposal to declare a global moratorium on coal
mining…Doing this in Southeast Asia will keep 19 billion tons of coal
under the ground. Imagine if we can do the coal mine moratorium:
millions of hectares of forests will be preserved,” said Mr. Clemente
Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE and coordinator of Oil
Watch Southeast Asia, in his speech.

“The present and future generations will be able to breathe clean air.
Our people will have better health and livelihoods. We will able to
further develop clean and affordable energy sources and technologies for
the people,” Bautista added.

The Kiribati Moratorium is a proposal made by the national government of
Kiribati, a small Pacific island nation, which calls on all countries to
adopt a moratorium on new coal mining projects. Bautista was joined by
fellow activists from Argentina, Venezuela, Ecuador, Alaska, Nigeria,
Columbia, South Africa, and France in the presentation.

The coal mining moratorium 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.

Coal power plants, too

Bautista also made the case to expand the moratorium proposal’s coverage
to the construction of new coal-fired power plants.

“On top of the mining moratorium, we also propose a moratorium on the
construction of coal power plants in the region. In the Philippines
alone, if there will be no new coal plants we will avoid the release of
60 million metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere,” Bautista
explained.

“If our friends in Ecuador and Nigeria want to keep oil under the soil,
we in Southeast Asia want to keep coal in the hole, and to keep
operating coal power plants to its remnants,” he added.

According to the International Energy Agency, fossil fuel use in South
East Asia could increase by 80% by 2040 in spite of the projected
renewable energy development in the region. Carbon emissions from the
power industry in Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Philippines,
and Indonesia could double, hitting 2.3 gigatonnes by 2035.

In the Philippines, the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives
filed House Resolution 787 or the Coal Moratorium Resolution in 2013 to
declare a halt on all coal power plant projects in the pipeline,
predicated on a just transition towards clean and affordable energy
development.

Rights of Mother Earth

The International Rights of Nature Tribunal, which was held in Maison
des Métallos in Paris, France from December 4 to 5, is a ground-breaking
venue for re-framing and adjudicating prominent environmental and social
justice cases within the context of a ‘Rights of Nature’ –based earth
jurisprudence.

The ‘Rights of Nature’ concept is rooted in the Universal Declaration of
Rights of Mother Earth, which was adopted in the 2010 World People’s
Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth held in
Cochabamba, Bolivia.

“There are a growing number of unique legal precedents across the world
that makes for a compelling case for bigger and bolder actions against
environmental destruction and climate disruption. In the Philippines,
there have been successful Supreme Court decisions that have received
future generations and other critical species as plaintiffs. In Bolivia,
law recognizes the rights of the voiceless Mother Nature,” Bautista noted.

“Leaders of top polluter countries such as US and China and their lackey
countries such as the Philippines, however, are ignoring all compelling
scientific and legal precedents for a new and genuine climate protocol.
They are making empty climate rhetoric and pursuing ‘more business as
usual’ pollution pathways. We must make sure these climate criminals are
held to account,” ended Bautista.#