Here's why PH needs to prioritize energy transition

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Posted at Feb 07 2022 09:17 AM

Photo source: Pexels [LINK OUT
Photo source: Pexels

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III recently co-bylined an opinion piece  with his Indonesian counterpart Sri Mulyani Indrawati and Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Masatsugu Asakawa on their offices' joint announcement to retire coal plants in both countries through the ADB-led pilot Energy Transition Mechanism (ETM).

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Groups such as the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice and Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development  have raised concerns about the scheme's implementation. Still, it seems there is consensus among the groups that "[a] clean energy transition in the Philippines will create jobs, promote national growth, and lower global emissions," as Dominguez stated during the launch of the ETM during the United Nations climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom last November, dubbed as the world's best last chance to tackle climate change.

The conference started with goals to secure ambitious emission reductions targets, protect vulnerable communities, and mobilize climate finance to aid in helping the world achieve net-zero.

While the resulting agreement has been widely seen as insufficient to stave off the worst of the climate crisis, particularly for vulnerable countries like the Philippines, there were also major energy pledges other than the Energy Transition Mechanism that could impact not only the country’s energy transition but also its economic development.

Experts have also urged  the Philippine government to fulfill its commitment to accelerate clean and just energy transition through more renewable energy sources and energy efficiency use, while questioning Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi's decision to leave the Philippines out of some clauses in the Glasgow coal phaseout deal .

COP26 delegates huddle on the final day of negotiations. Photo source: UNFCCC Flickr account [LINK OUT
COP26 delegates huddle on the final day of negotiations. Photo source: UNFCCC Flickr account 

The time for negotiations is over as targets have been set and the country needs to set tangible actions to put plans in motion. The alternative is far too devastating as a report shared in Glasgow revealed that if global warming continues to worsen, vulnerable countries can expect a GDP drop by as much as 20% on average by 2050 and 64% by 2100.

The Philippines needs to take this seriously as the nation must begin building resilience to withstand potentially severe storms, floods, heatwaves, and droughts further enhanced by climate change. As an archipelago, islands in the country are also in danger of rising sea levels.

"Government still equates climate change impacts with disasters or greenhouse gas emissions reduction bean-counting exercises," said Renato Redentor Constantino, executive director of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities. "It is time we establish resilience at the heart of the country's macroeconomic fundamentals, it is time we understand how urgent adaptation is, and how huge the opportunity is to drive low carbon strategies that result in enhanced resilience of power, transport, agriculture and infrastructure initiatives. Once we do so, decarbonization is steadily realized as a co-benefit."

Researchers have likewise pointed out to the lack of alignment between the Department of Energy's clean energy scenario and its objective of reliable and affordable power. "There is strong unmet demand for reliable, secure and affordable power and meeting this demand can offer far more synergies than trade-offs with the pursuit of economic growth as well as decarbonization," according to Professor Toby Monsod, Sara Jane Ahmed, and Golda Hilario in a University of the Philippines School of Economics discussion paper.

With the looming 2022 elections, experts urge leaders to prioritize climate action and energy transition in their agenda. Much work needs to be done and lives will not be changed by grand declarations and promises. Actual change must be implemented to make sure there is still a healthy tomorrow for future generations.

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