Legarda rallies youth to support clean energy transition

March 1, 2021

MANILA, 1 March 2021 — Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda stressed the important role of the youth as the engine of innovation and small scale energy transition as she outlined the need for the Philippines to contribute to the global energy transition, from harmful coal to renewable energy, during a dialogue on green recovery and energy transition spearheaded by the Ateneo Global Climate Corps on 25 February 2021.

“The global energy transition amid the COVID-19 pandemic is imperative. Failure to achieve the targets of the Paris Agreement will be a matter of life and death with enormous and lingering socio-economic consequences, many more times than the pandemic,” Legarda said. “In our own efforts, as well as through international support, we are shifting to clean energy. We are doing this gradually because as a developing nation, we aim to strike a delicate balance between meeting our energy demands and pursuing this in a sustainable manner” she added.

The three-term senator emphasized that the Philippines already has laws and policies in place which only require a strong political will to implement.

“Our Renewable Energy Law offers incentives to spur growth within the renewable energy sector. It is said that we have one of the best laws in the world, and we adopted it long before other countries did. We incentivized both foreign and local suppliers of renewable energy technologies, and we provided for a Feed-in-Tariff and a Renewable Portfolio Standards Policy,” said Legarda.

Despite the enabling provisions of the law, after a decade since its enactment, Legarda said that renewable energy accounts for only 30.3% of our energy mix, while that of coal is at 37.1%; oil-based at 18%; natural gas at 14.5%, based on installed capacity since 2018 which is a concern as the country is projected to sharply increase its emissions to more than triple by 2030 and quadruple by 2050 if no mitigation action is taken.

Aside from the Renewable Energy Law, Legarda also cited the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Law that has been passed to promote a market-driven approach to energy efficiency, conservation, sufficiency, and sustainability.

The lawmaker and environmental and climate champion also recalled that the Philippines has imposed higher taxes on coal, from 10 pesos or 20 US centavos per metric ton to 50, 100, and 150 pesos for the next three years.

Furthermore, the country also has a National Renewable Energy Program which has set out aggressive targets on renewable energy development from 2011-2030, aiming to increase renewable energy capacity to 15,304 megawatts by the year 2030.

As of last year, the Department of Energy has issued the moratorium on endorsements for coal power plants and its move to allow 100% foreign ownership on geothermal projects are a game-changer — a concrete step to advance rapidly the deployment of renewable energy and reduce the country’s dependence on coal for energy generation.

According to Legarda, the Philippines may not be a major emitter of carbon dioxide but it will continue to exercise commitment and obligation to promote environmental sustainability through the submission of its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) which will endeavor to peak greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by the year 2030 from the agriculture, wastes, industry, transport, and energy sectors.

Despite all these, however, Legarda said that there have been challenges in fast-tracking the development of renewable energy resources domestically. She listed some of the crucial next steps identified to be undertaken to meet the growing need for clean and affordable energy, including:

1. The enhancement of the Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) by adding a spatial dimension that informs investors on where to invest their energy projects, and integrating the inventory of traditional and renewable upstream resources with the downstream and the Power Development Plan. Renewable Energy zones must continue to be identified and developed to facilitate connection to the transmission and distribution facilities;

2. Incorporation of water-energy-food nexus in the design and facilitation of all the energy projects to conserve water, ensure energy security, and maximize food production;

3. Expanding the use of renewable energy for health and education systems, such as in off-grid powered health and educational facilities;

4. Promoting the use of alternative fuels and new advanced energy technologies to diversify the country’s energy resources and mitigate the adverse impact of energy use on the environment; and

5. Constructing health infrastructure facilities like hospitals and healthcare facilities, including testing facilities, quarantine, and isolation facilities, that are energy-efficient, disaster-resilient and responsive to health and medical needs that have recently emerged due to the pandemic.

Legarda said that the present climate and health crises should be taken as an opportunity to develop and progress to more sustainable energy systems.

“The climate crisis presents the opportunity to promote green growth for the sake of humanity and the only planet we call home. We must take hold of that opportunity so that future generations would not suffer the irreversible consequences if we chose inaction,” Legarda concluded. ###