Legarda Sees Coal Phase Out as Countries Pursue Green Growth

May 19, 2018

Senator Loren Legarda said that she sees the eventual “obsolescence” of coal as countries strive to shift towards renewable energy sources, which are now becoming more affordable than fossil fuels.

Legarda made the statement at the 5th Singapore Dialogue on Sustainable World Resources (SDSWR) where she was a panelist for the session titled, “How ASEAN Governments are Shifting to Green Growth.”

Legarda, Professor Simon Tay, Chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA), and fellow panelists—Daniel Mallo, Societe Generale Head of Natural Resources and Infrastructure for Asia Pacific, and Goh Swee Chen, Chairman of Shell Companies in Singapore—were in agreement that coal is yesterday’s fuel.

“Coal will go into its own obsolescence with the deceleration of the cost of renewables and there’s already grid parity between coal and solar and other forms of renewable energy. Moreover, because of carbon pricing and since, like in the Philippines, a lot of coal is imported elsewhere, it will be more expensive,” said Legarda.

The Senator explained that with coal becoming more expensive and renewables becoming cheaper, governments are likely to pursue green growth as the private sector also shifts to green investments.

Professor Tay said, “The case against coal is not just environmental but a moral case and also a business case.” And with renewables reaching parity, the price of coal will go up, making it “more risky to invest in coal.”

Mallo said that many large international power developers have been exiting the coal sector and selling their assets.

“Coal is going to become an increasingly unloved child. We will not see many new coal projects move forward and while there’s an existing fleet that has a role to play, in terms of development, it is on a decline mode,” said Mallo.

For her part, Chen said, “It is inevitable that the price of carbon will go up. The direct and indirect costs of carbon will go up. Coal will become a less desirable fuel source.”

Moreover, Legarda said she thinks that the ASEAN is on the right track, but shared how the region can fully transition towards a low-carbon economy.

“We need to craft policies. Singapore can share its initiatives on carbon taxing. We should also make science, technology and innovation work for us. We need to attract investments and access available climate finance to aid us in the transition to a low-carbon economy. There should also be exchange of information and best practices between and among ASEAN countries. By doing all of these, we could speed up the green growth of ASEAN countries,” Legarda concluded.