September 16, 2023 (8:57 PM)

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COAL DOWN NOW. Multisectoral groups urged to lessen the dependency on fossil fuels and explore the prospects of renewable energy in the forum on ‘Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty’ last Friday, September 15, 2023, at Bapa Benny Tudtud Auditorium, Ateneo de Davao University.

Photo by Maic Lapuz

Amid increasing carbon emissions intensifying the climate crisis, Ecoteneo, in partnership with the Davao Association of Catholic Schools (DACS), urged the phase-out of fossil fuel emissions worldwide. 

The participating organizations backed the initiative campaign, which was initially founded by Pacific nation leaders with the goals of halting new fossil fuel projects, winding down existing ones, and completely transitioning to clean energy equitably.

DACS Board Member Fr. Tomas P. Avila Jr. referenced the 2020 manual by the Catholic Church entitled “Journeying Towards Care for Our Common Home” in calling the attention of the members of the church to recede environmental practices considered harmful by the Catholic Church, including fossil fuels and emissions.

“Divestment from fossil fuels and reinvestment in clean, renewable energy can go a long way toward protecting our common home from climate change and pollution,” Avila said. 

Asia Pacific Advocacy Campaigner of the Laudato Si Movement Ronald Adlawan stated that they hope to encourage more religious organizations to sign the initiative and increase the level of climate emergency.

“What we are really trying to drive in this campaign is basically, we reflect on the social teachings of the church and use materials and tools in order to advance what we can do as a faith-based community,” Adlawan said.

Co-Chair of the Energy Working Group Philippine Movement for Climate Justice Atty. Aaron Pedrosa also urged for more solutions to limit the temperature rise globally, especially as countries of the Global South, like the Philippines, will be significantly affected.

“We need wide-ranging, large-scale rapid and systemic transformation to limit temperature rise. The window for action, and let me be clear, was yesterday. We are way behind the timeline.”

Ways forward in Mindanao, Davao

Presenting renewable energy prospects and solutions forwarding Mindanao in the phasing out of fossil fuels, Director of Center for Renewable Energy and Technology Engr. Nelson Enano, stated that Davao is 98% coal-based energy.

“In our forecast in years to come for Mindanao as a developing region, or in the Davao region, we have more construction of new buildings and establishments that would need more electricity.”

Enano also reported that in Davao, AdDU is one of the institutions leading by example in using renewable energy and phasing out fossil fuels.

“Ateneo de Davao has been at the forefront of these efforts for renewable energy. We started in 2011; we put up solar photovoltaic systems on our rooftop,” Enano said. “We have shown very vividly, we really are showing that renewable energy systems can work.”

Moreover, Enano said that in aiming for a renewable energy-based Mindanao, what the region needs are more investments to help execute the plans, as it already has the technology and the policies in place.

Ecoteneo Sustainability Officer Mitzi Salcedo told Atenews that the University undertakes actions and projects in response to the climate crisis and fossil fuel emissions problem mainly through advocacies and research. 

“Since we are in transition, we actually need to lobby [the endorsement] to Fr. Karel. So that’s the first thing to do. Next would be getting networks from different religious organizations; like earlier, we had the Diocese of Tagum in the forum with us. So, we slowly network,” Salcedo said.

The forum Coal Down Now: Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty was held on September 15, 2023, at the Bapa Benny Auditorium and online via Zoom. It was also livestreamed on the University’s official Facebook page.



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