Legarda Leads 12th APEC Energy Ministers’ Meeting, Urges Action Towards Sustainable Energy For All

October 13, 2015

United Nations Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific, Senator Loren Legarda, today reminded leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) member economies of our moral obligation to adopt policies that support green growth and energy security amid the region’s rapid development and urbanization.

Speaking at the 12th APEC Energy Ministers’ Meeting (EMM 12) in Cebu, Legarda stressed that while Asia has experienced rapid economic growth in the recent years, less attention is being given to the environmental consequences of rapid urbanization.

“The sum of 1 + 1 is not always 2. Development is good, but development without conscience destroys the world. We end up with zero,” Legarda said in her keynote speech.

The Asian Development Bank projects that energy demand in Asia Pacific will almost double by 2030 and that by 2035, the majority of the region’s primary energy demand will still come from fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas.

“With development comes greater demand for energy. Clearly, the sustainable development-energy nexus requires an urgent examination of how the region can tap on the power of innovation and new technologies to provide for the energy it needs in a sustainable and inclusive manner,” she stressed.

The Senator cited some obvious trends in Asia’s energy sector: First, across Asia, 610 million are still without access to electricity; Second, energy decisions have mainly been rooted on affordability and expediency as primary considerations; Third, more than half of the global population lives in cities which consume 78% of the world’s energy and contribute more than 60% of all carbon dioxide and other GHG emissions, while covering less than 2% of the earth’s surface.

Four (4) key themes have been identified for discussion during the energy ministerial meeting: 1) climate proofing energy infrastructure; 2) improving energy trade and investment in APEC; 3) advancing cutting-edge energy efficient technologies; and 4) promoting community-based clean energy use in energy poverty stricken areas.

Legarda recounted how natural hazards brought heavy damage to the energy sector. “The total damage to the electricity sector caused by Typhoon Haiayan was estimated at US$ 155 million. The distribution utilities were the hardest hit, which accounted for 76% of the total damage to the energy sector, causing disruptions in electricity supply to residential consumers and public buildings.”

This, the Senator said, underscores the importance of building resilience in the energy sector. “Climate proofing the energy infrastructure has clearly become a necessity. APEC and its member economies need to cooperate with the private sector towards fostering public-private partnerships that will encourage the adoption of appropriate standards for critical energy infrastructure.”

Legarda also joined leaders in calling for investments in resilient energy infrastructure. “New, cutting-edge energy efficient technologies are within our reach. I am therefore encouraged by APEC’s commitment to reduce aggregate energy intensity by 45% by 2030 from 2005 levels. Wider use of energy-saving equipment and technical innovation will contribute greatly in this endeavor.”

She added, “Many APEC economies will continue to generate power, using fossil fuel, including coal. It is imperative that the best available technology be deployed. Investments in sophisticated sustainable energy technologies augur well in reducing harmful emissions, protecting health and the environment, and sustaining economic growth.”

Inclusive growth, Legarda said, begins with making basic services available to all. Fostering the participation of micro, small, and medium enterprises in the regional and global markets, much less in the domestic supply chain, will not happen unless energy access is guaranteed to everyone. Off grid and last mile communities need to enjoy the benefits of APEC as much as everyone else in urban areas.

“Growth is difficult to imagine without energy; and energy that does not take into consideration the needs of future generations, can only destroy and not build. Clean fuels and renewable energy need to be harnessed, and development of micro grids has to be pursued in addressing energy access challenges. APEC cannot afford to take half steps in its efforts to deliver clean energy to poverty stricken areas,” Legarda concluded.