By BONG D. FABE
CAGAYAN de Oro City–President Rodrigo Duterte must establish a modern energy infrastructure based on renewable energy (RE) sources to sustain growth and development while freeing Filipinos from the stranglehold of coal power, said Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC).
Renato Redentor Constantino, executive director of iCSC, a policy group promoting low-carbon development initiatives in vulnerable countries, said President Duterte must use his six-year term “to uplift the Filipino people from poverty by establishing a modern energy infrastructure powered by the steady growth in renewable energy investments—which in turn will provide jobs for our people.”
“Clean energy is now far cheaper and is the unequivocal reliable choice of the future,” he added.
Constantino’s iCSC praised the President’s turn-around Monday when he said in his State of the Nation Address that his administration will give top priority to climate change.
“Climate change will be a top priority but upon a fair and equitable equation…and must not stymie our industrialization,” he said.
Just a few days ago, Duterte bannered national and international news reports for saying that he will not honor the Paris Agreement on climate change, which he described as “stupid”.
“To realize President Duterte’s goals to free Filipinos from the chains of energy oligarchs, he must adopt and unleash the power of decentralized renewable energy rather than further lock the country into centralized, wasteful, polluting coal power controlled by a few companies,” Constantino said.
The Philippines, according to the Department of Energy, has an untapped RE potential for electric power generation at no less than 250,000 MW, broken down into hydro, 10,000 MW; ocean energy, 170,000 MW; geothermal, 4,000; wind, 76,600 MW; solar, 5 kWh/m2/day; and sugar cogen, rice husk, and coconut, 500 MW.
Currently, however, the Philippines is powered by fossil fuels at 72 percent while only 28% are sourced from RE.
To ensure sustainable national development, a shift from fossil fuels to RE is needed, said Reuben Muni, climate and energy campaigner for the Philippines of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
Muni urged Duterte to champion renewable energy, which he said “is outpacing dirty oil, coal, and gas in terms of growth worldwide.”
“Duterte should champion the country’s shift from fossil fuels to renewables, which would give his administration the higher moral ground when it negotiates lower carbon emissions from developed countries. Doing so would not only lower the main source of climate change, but also take advantage of the growing opportunities for jobs and investments,” he said in a statement last month.
According to the iCSC, RE offers massive economic rewards.
“Just last year US$328.9 billion was invested in renewable energy globally. In fact, more jobs were created in the renewable energy sector last year compared to jobs generated in the oil, gas and coal sectors. The Filipino nation can and must be powered by clean energy,” Constantino said.
The “Renewables 2016 Global Status Report” said that developing countries put in US$156 billion in investments globally in renewable energy in 2015, which is a 19 percent increase to the global RE investments in 2014.
Aksyon Klima, on the other hand, cautioned the President from repeating the mistake of the Aquino administration which approved more than 20 coal fired-power plants on top of the nine plants that came online in the past six years. Before Aquino’s term, the country only has eight coal-fired power plants.
Senator Loren Legarda said in a news report that the Philippines’ coal consumption rose 27% between 2012 and 2014.
Power generation from coal is a major source of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses that cause climate change.
The Philippines, through the Aquino administration, has pledged before the world in December 2015 in Paris to lower emissions by 70% on business as usual levels by 2030. (Bong D. Fabe)
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