Uncovering the true cost of coal



THERE is now a proposal to increase the tax imposed on coal from P10 per metric ton to P300 per metric ton by year 2020.

The said proposal, which was voted on by the Senate of the Philippines last Nov. 27, was coursed through Senate Bill 1592, also known as the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion, which laid out tax reforms in various sectors and industries, including coal.

It was learned that the P10 tax rate has been imposed since 1977, or 40 years ago.

The proposal is spearheaded by senators Loren Legarda, Joel Villanueva and Ralph Recto, and supported by senators Francis Escudero, Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, and senators Joseph Victor Ejercito, Grace Poe, Risa Hontiveros, and Juan Miguel Zubiri.

Cause-oriented group Greenpeace said that “For the coal industry, the sound of the passing bell has been heard. The Senate has sent a strong signal that the end of the age of coal is forthcoming for Filipinos.”

Greenpeace supports this bold move by the Senate to stand by Filipinos who are long suffering from the impacts of coal and which decided that it’s time to stop coddling an industry that has caused so much destruction on our health and our country’s natural resources.

It says that “The coal industry cannot continue amassing wealth at the expense of destroying our environment, our climate and our people. They have been benefiting from an outdated taxation policy that is biased for the promotion of coal and enjoying this unfair advantage against other sources of energy.”

Such policies contribute to the illusion that coal is the cheapest source of energy. But uncovering the true cost of coal is important because it is the more expensive, destructive, and deadly option for energy generation.

“The P300 tax is a measly amount that is not even proportionate to the negative impacts of the coal industry’s business activities, as well as their huge profits. They cannot claim to be discriminated against,” Greenpeace says.

It is high time we instead increase support toward a diversified renewable energy system based on technologies and resources that are clearly cheaper than coal and highly abundant in our country.

Greenpeace and its allies remain vigilant and join coal-resisting communities lending support to the Senate’s initiative.

The Senators, especially those who earlier on supported the renewable energy revolution, must prove their leadership, honesty, and loyalty to their words.

Greenpeace says that “Filipinos have suffered enough, and big polluters, like the coal industry, must pay. This is long overdue.”

It was learned that in the United States (US), Christopher Clack, CEO of the power grid modeling firm Vibrant Clean Energy and a former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researcher, stressed that renewables are becoming a major source of electricity in the US and can no longer be considered “alternative” energy.

Coal power generation is no longer socially acceptable in many parts of the world, and most electric power companies prefer natural gas and renewables because they cost less.