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SMC must abandon fossil fuels to power a world made better

WagGas

Statement of Leaders of the Catholic Church to stockholders of San Miguel Corporation on the Occasion of SMC’s Annual Stockholders Meeting

We address you as servants of the Church who wish no more than to protect our Common Home. As stockholders of San Miguel Corporation (SMC), you have the power to steer SMC away from coal and liquefied natural gas (LNG), and instead power a world made better.

Barely two weeks ago, the Philippines was narrowly spared from the worst of the strongest typhoon of 2023 so far, as typhoon Mawar skirted along our country’s edges instead of landing on our shores at full force. Yet the super typhoon still battered coastal regions and communities in Luzon and Visayas, displacing thousands of residents, destroying agriculture and homes, and leaving behind massive damage. This, unfortunately, is a scenario that is already the norm for our climate-vulnerable country.

Today, more corporate actors are acknowledging their role in the climate crisis, and are choosing to work towards aligning to the 1.5°C Paris temperature goal. SMC, meanwhile, is still unwavering in its fossil fuel development. Even with a coal moratorium from the Department of Energy now in place, SMC retains its proposal for another coal-fired power plant in Mariveles, Bataan. At 14 GW, SMC is now also the biggest proponent of new fossil gas projects in the country – a fleet that includes LNG power plants in the critically biodiverse Verde Island Passage and Tañon Strait. Such massive capacity belies any excuse by SMC that it is contributing to a clean energy transition using gas as a transition fuel as, if built, these projects will tie the Philippines to decades more of fossil fuel proliferation.

SMC’s promotion of fossil fuels goes against its principle of malasakit for the Filipino people. The long-term damage of coal to people’s health and the environment is well-documented. Yearly, SMC-owned coal power plants also trouble consumers with perennial shutdowns, leading to yellow and red alerts. Electricity rates continue to skyrocket from such outages and the volatile nature of fossil fuel prices – both for coal and LNG. To rely on LNG is to turn our energy supply dependent on importation and at the mercy of the global market – a situation that is both painful and needless, given the abundance of renewable energy we can develop.

Stockholders must also pay attention to the plight of subsidiary SMC Global Power Holdings Corp., which is reported to be in dire financial strains due to its fossil fuel business. The power holding is already underperforming, according to the Fitch Group, putting in doubt its capacity to pay its back bond creditors. SMC’s venture into LNG has resulted in protracted delays and project cancellations, and its reliance on fossil fuels for its power generation companies have already cost it P15 billion pesos.

SMC, moreover, blatantly ignores the wishes of communities to be spared from further environmental degradation and the climate imperative of stopping extractive fossil fuel activities with its aggressive push to conduct open pit coal mining in Lake Sebu in Mindanao. Today, the project faces massive opposition from communities, the Church, and broad stakeholders – and we urge you to take action and stop SMC’s destructive mining.

SMC’s dealings involving fossil fuels is also what led to the oil spill that began in February this year. It was SL Harbor, also an SMC subsidiary, that was chartering MT Princess Empress, and SMC was also among the owners of the 900,000 liters of industrial oil it carried. A voyage taken using a tanker revealed to have been improper for the cargo it was delivering, and which was using falsified documents according to the Department of Justice, had horrific environmental and social consequences. The oil continues to spread, threatening the Verde Island Passage and causing misery among thousands who are robbed of their livelihood and food supply.

We, the servants of the Church, call upon the stockholders of SMC to steer it in the right direction–to call and vote on a resolution that will align SMC’s business with the 1.5 degrees Celsius Paris temperature goal, retire existing fossil fuel plants, and abandon new fossil fuel projects. We implore you to join us in taking a stand against fossil fuels expansion. We can no longer sit by and allow the unfettered destruction of our common home.

All of mankind is called to be stewards of God’s creation. Let us pour our energies in protecting our Common Home – this beautiful planet that has given us so much, and to whom we now have the duty to protect in return.


Signed:

  1. Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro
  2. Diocese of Dumaguete
  3. Diocese of Marbel
  4. Diocese of La Union
  5. Diocese of San Carlos
  6. Diocese of Iligan
  7. Apostolic Vicariate of Tabuk
  8. Diocese of Lucena
  9. Diocese of Digos
  10. Diocese of Kalibo
  11. Archdiose of Caceres
  12. Diocese of Legazpi
  13. Diocese of Antique
  14. Archdiocese of Jaro
  15. Diocese of Sorsogon
  16. Diocese of Tandag
  17. Diocese of Urdaneta
  18. Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan
  19. Diocese of Baguio
  20. Diocese of Bayombong
  21. Diocese of Borongan
  22. Archdiocese of Lipa
  23. Diocese of Kidapawan
  24. Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia
  25. Diocese of Dipolog
  26. Diocese of Kalookan
  27. Diocese of Novaliches
  28. Diocese of Alaminos
  29. Archdiocese of Caceres
  30. Diocese of Malaybalay
  31. Diocese of Butuan
  32. Diocese of Virac
  33. Prelature of Isabela de Basilan
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