Catholic Church leaders appealed to shareholders of San Miguel Corporation (SMC), one of the country’s largest conglomerates,” to oppose plans to expand the corporation’s fossil gas power projects.
“We write to you, the stockholders of SMC, to bring to your attention a matter of the utmost importance, so that you, as an owner of SMC, may take appropriate action in your stockholder’s meeting,” read a letter sign by officials of Caritas Philippines and other Catholic Church leaders.
SMC, which held its annual stockholders meeting on Tuesday, June 14, is the proponent of over 14.1 GW new fossil gas power across the country, making it the single biggest developer of new gas capacity in the Philippines and Southeast Asia.
“[The corporation’s] size gives it disproportionate influence on the lives of Filipinos far beyond what simple investment decisions would suggest,” read the letter signed by Father Antonio Labiao, Bishop Colin Bagaforo, Bishop Cerilo Casicas, Bishop Cosme Almedilla, and other Church leaders.
They said that with the power of the corporation “comes an added responsibility that goes beyond the normal fiduciary interests that are discussed in shareholder meetings.”
“We are all aware that the scale of investments locked up in this venture makes it difficult in the long run to turn these plants off, shrouding the future of the Philippines’ untapped renewable energy potential with uncertainty,” said the Church leaders.
“It is, in effect, a detour on the road to a fully sustainable future for the Philippines in favor of the continued use of fossil fuels,” they added.
Fossil gas has become the latest subterfuge of fossil fuel proponents, seizing on the narrative of transition to forward its use as a transition fuel, bridging the change from coal to renewable energy.
Caritas Philippines, however, said it is a “falsehood” because fossil gas still emits dangerous amounts of greenhouse gases, “will bring environmental pollution, threaten energy security and affordability, and block a swifter shift to renewable energy.”
“We ask you to go beyond the ledger and think of what it would mean for our country and the world if we continue to enable the massive use of fossil fuels,” read the letter to investors.
“We are in the middle of a climate emergency. We need to restrict the increase in global temperatures to no more than 1.5°C to prevent a global catastrophe …. If SMC were to continue on its path, then it will be a major driver in the increased emission of greenhouse gasses from gas-fired plants, further challenging future generations in working for the rejuvenation of our Common Home,” it added.
The Catholic Church leaders said that investors and stockholders, “as the owners of SMC,” have the power “to alter the plans for gas expansion, to make the sustainable future happen.”