Govt reviewing coal policy

The Aquino administration asked the Climate Change Commission to set a national policy that will reduce the Philippines’ dependence on coal plants and move toward a low-carbon future.

The commission said in a statement President Benigno Aquino III set into motion an urgent and comprehensive review of the government’s energy policy.

President Aquino signed Commission Resolution No. 2016-001 on May 18, which stated that the commission would lead key government agencies in facilitating within the next six months “a national policy review and framework development on energy, through a whole-of-nation approach, in accordance with a low-carbon development pathway and national goals and targets for climate change mitigation and adaptation, disaster risk reduction and sustainable development.”

The commission said the resolution was envisioned to set in place a clear government policy on coal-fired power plants, which were the biggest sources of man-made carbon emissions, accounting for about 35 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Coal accounts for about 30 percent of the power generation mix in the Philippines, but thousands of megawatts of additional capacity were in the pipeline to address the country’s growing power demand.

Climate Change Commission Secretary Emmanuel De Guzman and commissioners Frances Veronica Victorino and Noel Antonio Gaerlan also signed the resolution.

“We are happy that President Aquino signed the resolution, which is a major step to steer the country away from coal and accelerate the transition to clean, renewable energy that is consistent with our efforts to fight climate change and pursue the development of a green economy,” De Guzman said.

“It is the obligation of the government to act to save the people from climate change and not wait. The poor and the vulnerable stand to lose if we don’t act with urgency,” he said.

The resolution urged the Environment and Energy Departments and the National Economic Development Authority to harmonize policies and regulations on new and existing coal-fired power plants and assess their impacts on the environment and include low-carbon development and climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies in the formulation of all national and local development plans.

De Guzman said the review would pave the way for a swift transition to renewable energy, enhance energy efficiency and conservation and ensure clean, affordable and reliable energy for the entire country.

“Philippine climate ambition is predicated on changing our energy pathways that ensure we send the right policy signals to the investment community and generate jobs for the modern economy,” De Guzman said.

He said an urgent review of the government’s energy policy was necessary given the growing number of new coal power plants in the country and the global demand for drastic greenhouse gas emission reductions to achieve the primary goal of the new global climate deal reached in Paris last year, which was to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“We must aim for nothing less than the transformation of the Philippine economy with a low carbon energy development pathway,” he said.

Source: The Standard