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SMC MUST ABANDON FOSSIL FUELS TO POWER A WORLD MADE BETTER

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

Message of Church Leaders 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:


Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro

Archdiocese of Zamboanga

Diocese of Dumaguete

Diocese of Marbel

Diocese of La Union

Diocese of San Carlos

Diocese of Iligan

Apostolic Vicariate of Tabuk

Diocese of Lucena

Diocese of Digos

Diocese of Kalibo

Archdiose of Caceres

Diocese of Legazpi

Diocese of Antique

Archdiocese of Jaro

Diocese of Sorsogon

Diocese of Tandag

Diocese of Urdaneta

Archdiocese of Lingayen Dagupan

Diocese of Baguio

Diocese of Bayombong

Diocese of Borongan

Archdiocese of Lipa

Diocese of Kidapawan

Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia

Diocese of Dipolog

Diocese of Kalookan

Diocese of Novaliches

Diocese of Alaminos

Archdiocese of Caceres

Diocese of Malaybalay

Diocese of Butuan

Diocese of Virac

Prelature of Isabela de Basilan

Diocese of Surigao

Diocese of Boac

Diocese of Cabanatuan

Diocese of Surigao

Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Princesa

Apostolic Vicariate of Taytay


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