Gina Lopez, Who Led Anti-Mining Crackdown in Philippines, Dies at 65
Gina Lopez, a former Philippine environment secretary, philanthropist and eco-warrior, died on Aug. 19 from brain cancer. She was 65.
Lopez was best known for fighting against destructive mining practices in her country, a crusade that spanned roles in both the private and public sector. In 2010, she joined forces with the Palawan NGO Network Inc. (PNNI) to establish the Save Palawan Movement, a coalition of grassroots civil society organizations that pushed for a total mining ban on the island of Palawan, home to an underground river and cave system that's a UNESCO World Heritage Site. She initiated an anti-mining petition that garnered a landmark 10 million signatures, and by 2012, then-President Benigno Aquino Jr. issued an executive order banning new mining permits.
"Because of her, Palawan became the baseline of civil societies in other areas on the grassroots level," said Elizabeth Maclang, the former PNNI advocacy officer and now park superintendent of the Puerto Princesa Underground River. "She strengthen[ed] our civil society groups here."
President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Lopez as his cabinet secretary for the environment and natural resources in June 2016. Once in office, she led a massive audit of all mining operations in the country, cancelled the approval of 75 proposed mines in watershed areas, ordered the closure of 26 mines for environment violations, and suspended five other contracts.
But her tenure was short-lived; less than a year later, in May 2017, the congressional Commission on Appointments overturned her appointment, amid issues over her controversial policies and alleged incompetence, CNN Philippines reported at the time.
Regina "Gina" Lopez was born Dec. 27, 1953, into the prominent Lopez family behind ABS-CBN, the Philippines biggest media conglomerate. The family also has holdings in natural gas. Lopez was a longtime chair of the ABS-CBN Foundation Inc. (AFI), where she established a helpline to rescue abused children, an initiative that won the United Nations Grand Award for Excellence in 1997. Under her leadership, the foundation also supported the rehabilitation of the La Mesa watershed and the Pasig River, as well as provided financial assistance and training to rural communities in developing ecotourism initiatives.
"She thinks that if you want to discourage communities from allowing mining into their areas, you have to give locals an alternative," Maclang said. "To make sure that mining corporations could not enter areas in Palawan, she strengthened communities and pushed for ecotourism."
Maclang said it was also Lopez's influence that encouraged communities to file cases against mining violations:
"Although she's very vocal and she ends up with a lot of enemies, her passion is inspiring. We, on the ground, were infected by her courage. Like her, we persevere, we fight ... it helped us knowing that she has our backs."
In a statement, Yeb Saño of Greenpeace Philippines hailed Lopez as a "prime mover" in many environmental coalitions, particularly the Green Thumb Coalition, composed of more than 40 national and local organizations demanding government accountability on environment issues.
"Under her leadership, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources championed people over profit, putting the welfare of the Filipino people over the exploitation and destruction of natural resources by corporate interests," Saño said in the statement. "She was also an inspiration to many for her courage and kindness."
Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.
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Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
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