Friday, August 28, 2015

Is Coal a Poverty Cure?

by Anton Antonio
August 28, 2015

In the following blog articles (“The Coal War in Palawan”, “Coal Plant in Palawan”, “Coal Narratives” and “The History of Pollution”), I registered my opposition to coal as a sustainable alternative source of energy… a conviction shared among the environmentalist sector of our country.  The captains of the energy industry in the Philippines, however, have a different viewpoint and statement contrary to the environmentalists’ stance.  There is a deadlock or stalemate insofar as who is right.  Perhaps, a third party opinion could break this impasse (meaning: a situation in which no progress is possible especially because of a disagreement).

The following researched article could be the factor that will provide impetus (meaning: the force or energy with which a body moves) to the cause of the environmentalists.  Please read…


“The World Bank said coal was no cure for global poverty on Wednesday, rejecting a main industry argument for building new fossil fuel projects in developing countries.  In a rebuff to coal, oil and gas companies, Rachel Kyte, the World Bank climate change envoy, said continued use of coal was exacting a heavy cost on some of the world’s poorest countries, in local health as well as climate change, which is imposing even graver consequences on the developing world.  “In general globally we need to wean ourselves off coal,” Kyte told an event in Washington hosted by the New Republic and the Center for American Progress.  “There is a huge social cost to coal and a huge social cost to fossil fuels… if you want to be able to breathe clean air.”  Coal, oil and gas companies have pushed back against efforts to fight climate change by arguing fossil fuels are a cure to “energy poverty”, which is holding back developing countries.  Peabody Energy, the world’s biggest privately held coal company, went so far as to claim that coal would have prevented the spread of the Ebola virus.  However, Kyte said that when it came to lifting countries out of poverty, coal was part of the problem --- and not part of a broader solution.  “Do I think coal is the solution to poverty?  There are more than 1 billion people today who have no access to energy,” Kyle said.  Hooking them up to a coal-fired grid would not on its own wreck the planet, she went on.  But Kyle added: “If they all had access to coal-fired power tomorrow their respiratory illness rates would go up, etc, etc… We need to extend access to energy to the poor and we need to do it the cleanest way possible because the social costs of coal are uncounted and damaging, just as the global emissions count is damaging as well.”  The World Bank sees climate change as a driver of poverty, threatening decades of development.  The international lender has strongly backed efforts to reach a deal in Paris at the end of the year that would limit warming to a rise of 2 degrees Celsius.  However, even that deal would not do enough to avoid severe consequences for some of the world’s poorest countries, Kyte said.  “Two degrees is not benign,” she said.  “It is where we put the line in the sand.”  Fossil fuel companies have pushed back against the notion that climate change is a driver of poverty, arguing instead that the low global prices for coal and oil are a benefit for the poor countries.  Peabody launched a global public relations offensive around the notion of “energy poverty”, trying to rebrand the dirtiest of fossil fuels as a poverty cure.  Spokesmen for shell have called efforts to cut use of fossil fuels in developing countries “energy colonialism”.  The World Bank stopped funding new coal projects except in “rare circumstances” three years ago after the US, Britain and the Netherlands opposed its decision to finance new coal-fired power plant in South Africa.  The US stopped investing in the new coal-fired projects overseas in 2011, and called on lending institutions like the World Bank to do the same.  Kyte in her remarks on Wednesday left some room for the World Bank to fund future coal projects --- but she made it clear it would only be in the most isolated circumstances.  “We have no coal in our pipeline apart from one particularly extreme circumstance,” she said.” ---

There really is a need to strengthen the energy sector to guarantee continuous economic progress in our country.  But there will have to be a serious look into the type of energy source.  Coal is not the way to go compared to other alternatives such as solar, wind, wave, hydro and geothermal.  These alternative initiatives can also cure poverty and we don’t have to wonder and ask the question: “Is Coal a poverty cure?”

Thoughts to promote positive action…

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Antonio, A. C. (2015). “The Coal War in Palawan”. Retrieved on August 28, 2015 from

Antonio, A. C. (2015). “Coal Plant in Palawan”. Retrieved on August 28, 2015 from

Antonio, A. C. (2015). “Coal Narratives”. Retrieved on August 28, 2015 from

Antonio, A. C. (2015). “The History of Pollution”. Retrieved on August 28, 2015 from

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