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Our world is not better with gas, advocates tell SMC

Fossil fuel protest

Clean energy advocacy groups on Friday told San Miguel Corporation (SMC) on the occasion of the latter’s 133rd anniversary that Filipinos are not enjoying a better world due to the conglomerate’s insistence on building gas-fired power plants, which drive up electricity prices and increase the effects of climate change.

Greeting SMC with a “birthday bash”, WagGas brought a cake to SMC’s headquarters in Mandaluyong in question of the company’s continued foray into gas power, saying that with the move SMC is burning money at the expense of consumers, the environment, and even of its own financial health.

Fossil fuel protest

“SMC is enjoying a banner year in terms of profits from all its businesses except its energy portfolio due to its insistence on investing in gas,” said Gerry Arances, co-Convenor of WagGas.

“SMC’s net income increased by 21% in 2022 as almost all its subsidiaries remitted more profits. Except of course San Miguel Global Power, whose net income fell by 80% in the same year. It is currently experiencing cash flow issues, as it has to meet payments on its liabilities while its earnings are being reduced by their gas investments. If arguments based on science and people’s welfare won’t sway SMC, perhaps they can consider their own profits,” he added.

The groups said that SMC can make the world better if it is serious about its slogan.

“SMC has set targets of net zero by 2050 and 10 gigawatts of renewables capacity by 2028. If the company can do this, it means we can lessen the effects of climate change and bring down electricity prices for consumers at the same time. That would be a much better world where SMC can take credit. Unfortunately, those promises seem to be made for public relations only. It just has 800 megawatts of solar and 1,000 megawatts of battery projects, five years before their 10-gigawatt goal. Only 0.1% of the ₱40 billion SMGP borrowed from investors from a bond issue a few months ago went to renewable energy projects, with 76% going to fossil fuel projects,” said Bishop Gerry Alminaza of the Diocese of San Carlos, Lead Convenor of WagGas.

Fossil fuel protest

“We don’t see how that makes our world and the plight of Filipinos suffering the worst of pollution and rising electricity prices any better. And given the losses of SMGP due to its exposure to fossil fuel projects, we don’t see how it makes SMC’s world better either,” he added.

WagGas called on SMC to take the time during their anniversary celebrations to recalibrate their goals.

“Mahirap batiin ng happy birthday ang San Miguel sa bawat taong nagtutulak ito ng mahal na kuryente. Sunog ang sahod ng ordinaryong manggagawa at butas ang bulsa lalo na ngayong sapilitan tayong binebentahan ng kuryenteng galing sa gas. Ang birthday wish namin para sa San Miguel, magbagong buhay na. Panalo ang lahat kung renewable energy ang tatangkilikin natin, pero hanggang ngayon ay puro pangakong napapako lang ang SMC sa usaping ito. Paano kayo makakatulong na paigihin ang mundo? Tigilan niyo na ang gas,” said Ka Leody de Guzman, Chairman of Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), who spearheaded the protest.

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