Legarda: Climate Change Presents Opportunity for Green Growth

March 14, 2016

Senator Loren Legarda today said that despite the threats of climate change, there are opportunities to seize to promote green growth.

Legarda, UNISDR Global Champion for Resilience and Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, made the statement in her keynote speech at the 31st Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in Manila, organized by The Climate Reality Project led by Former US Vice President Al Gore.

“Because of the climate crisis, we take it as our responsibility to ensure that the growth path we are taking is one that leads us towards sustainable development—for the sake of the only planet we call home, for the sake of our children and our children’s children, and for our own survival,” she said.

“In last year’s climate change negotiations in Paris, governments conveyed the message that they are determined to act to achieve the goal of limiting the world’s rise in average temperature to ‘well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius.’ It is a landmark agreement in this history of humankind. But its aspirations will not happen on its own. The dream of a safer world needs the cooperation of all countries and of every person,” she added.

The Senator explained that global warming has already breached the 1°C level with unprecedented warming in the past months. Moreover, early this month, unofficial data showed that average temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere likely exceeded 2°C above normal.

“We have already borne countless tragedies from recurring impacts of extreme weather events under a 1°C global warming. How much more with higher temperatures? Bending the global warming curve to 1.5°C is a moral imperative, because it means saving the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people; it means upholding the human rights of the poor and vulnerable; it means ensuring the integrity of our ecosystems,” Legarda stressed.

“In taking action, we face daunting challenges that confront us. Heading the list is coal,” she said.

Legarda said Philippine consumption of coal has been on the upswing, increasing by 27% between 2012 and 2014. Coal-fired power plants are the country’s dominant power technology because economically, they are widely available and easy to build.

“Easy and affordable defy durable solutions. What the ‘easy and affordable’ explanation fails to consider is the fact that there are external costs to coal, which, if considered, would render coal-fired power plants as one of the most expensive forms of power generation. Coal-fired power plants’ impacts on health, air quality, and climate, and life—above anything else—are more vital considerations,” she stressed.

The Senator said that sustainable development-energy nexus requires an urgent examination of how we can tap on the power of innovation and new technologies to provide for the energy we need in a sustainable and inclusive manner.

She further explained that renewable energy currently accounts for 33% of the country’s energy mix. “We have reached considerable progress; but we cannot stop just yet. We should have a good energy mix where there is a bias for renewables.”

Estimates indicate that the Philippines has 246,000 megawatts of untapped renewable energy capacity—from sun, tidal ocean power, wind, geothermal, biomass, and hydro resources. This is thirteen times more than the current installed capacity.

“The Philippines has committed to a 70% reduction by 2030 from business as usual scenario from energy, transport, waste, industry and forestry. We need to deliver on this because it is clear injustice to let future generations suffer the irreversible consequences of our irresponsible actions. We should act to protect the Earth not just with a sense of urgency, rather with a sense of great emergency,” Legarda concluded.