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

December 7, 2015

By Kalikasan PNE

Kalikasan's Clemente Bautista speaks at the International Rights of Nature Tribunal.

Kalikasan’s Clemente Bautista speaks at the International Rights of Nature Tribunal. Image from Kalikasan PNE

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.###

Other photos here.