Legarda Calls for Greater Climate Action Through Renewable Energy Development

January 24, 2014

Senator Loren Legarda today renewed her call for greater climate change action, particularly through significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and promotion of renewable energy development.

Legarda, the United Nations Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific, made the call in her keynote speech at the ThomasLloyd Cleantech Forum 2014 today in Frankfurt, Germany.

“Findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) show that there is 95 percent likelihood that human activity is the cause of global warming. Unless drastic cuts are introduced, global temperatures are projected to increase by 0.3 to 4.8 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. The IPCC warns that a 1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius increase in global mean temperatures from pre-industrial levels threatens extinction of 30 percent of all species,” she explained.

According to the 5th IPCC Report, human activity released 545 gigatons of carbon dioxide—the main greenhouse gas from 1750 to 2011. It is projected that if 1,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide is emitted, which at current rates will likely occur between 2040 and 2050, there is a one-in-three possibility that the 2 degrees Celsius limit above the pre-industrial level will be exceeded.

Of the carbon dioxide emitted, 2/3 was due to the burning of fossil fuels with 1/3 caused by deforestation and land-use change. In the last decade however, 90 percent of rise in carbon dioxide levels was due to burning of fossil fuels.

“We need to take action now because a warmer earth threatens food security and public health. It is projected to bring down GDP by three percent and threatens the survival of communities,” said Legarda.

“This brings me to my call for low emissions development strategy. Clean technologies play an invaluable role in sustainable development. The Philippines, though a minor emitter of greenhouse gases, is a leader in the use of renewable energy. In fact, the second in geothermal energy use. Early estimates indicate that we have more than 200,000 potential renewable energy resources that remain untapped,” she said.

To scale up renewable energy development and address the country’s growing power needs, landmark laws such as the Philippine Biofuels Act of 2006 and the Renewable Energy Act of 2008 were enacted.

Legarda said that the country’s National Renewable Energy Program has set out aggressive targets on renewable energy development from 2011-2030, aiming to nearly triple the existing capacity of 5,369 megawatts to 15,304 megawatts by the year 2030.

The Senator noted that there have been challenges in efforts to fast-track the development of the Philippines’ renewable energy resources more aggressively. Impacts on electricity pricing have been a major consideration among regulators, particularly as the country has one of the highest electricity rates in the world.

Recent events, however, have shown that conventional energy, which traditional views seem to favor, does not and cannot guarantee low electricity prices.

“A study by the Philippine Institute of Development Studies reports that one out of five people or 130 million in ASEAN lack access to electricity. The same study said that 16 million Filipinos remain to have no access to electricity. This is a market that can very well benefit from renewable energy development in the region,” she added.

“Renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies are valuable components of low carbon emissions development strategy. They need to be embraced by everyone. Our search for responses to climate change realities requires the climate proofing of our energy sector,” said Legarda.