Progressives welcome Aquino belated energy policy shift but challenges Duterte to take it further

Multi-sectoral coalition SANLAKAS welcomed the recently signed resolution by the Climate Change Commission (CCC) declaring that the Commission shall facilitate in the next 6 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 adaptation and mitigation, disaster risk reduction and sustainable development, and considering the prioritization and acceleration of renewable energy development, enhancement of energy efficiency and conservation, and insurance of clean, affordable, and reliable energy for the entire country”.

In the resolution, the Commission also urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Energy (DOE) to “initiate and coordinate discussions and harmonize policies and regulations on new and existing coal-fired power plants in accordance with a low carbon development pathway to be reflected in the Philippine Energy Plan” and to ”ensure the incorporation of the measurement and mitigation of GHG emissions in the development and review process for the Environmental Impact Statements of coal-fired power plants.”

“This is a quite belated but nevertheless a very positive development. Kudos to the members of the Commission for being able to convince President Aquino, who heads the Commission, to sign such a resolution,” said Lidy Nacpil, the coalition’s chairperson. “We have been campaigning for years for the Philippines to make a decisive shift away from dirty energy such as coal, which causes grave harm to local communities and eco systems as well as exacerbating the climate crisis. We hope this resolution will lead to the reversal of the efforts of the Aquino administration to expand the coal industry”.

“There should be a moratorium on the building of new coal power plants and coal mines while the review is being conducted,” said Attorney Aaron Pedrosa, Secretary General of Sanlakas. “The Aquino government has 27 new coal power plants in the pipeline and issued more than 100 permits for new coal mines.”
In an e-mailed statement the group was also quick to add that “as President Aquino’s term is ending in a few weeks, the onus will be on the Duterte administration not only to ensure that the resolution is implemented but to take the efforts further”.

During the election campaign period, Duterte had declared that he “agrees with the eventual phase-out of coal power plants and other plants that use harmful fuel.”

“We urge President-elect Duterte to make this one of his priority issues in his first 100 days of office,” says Attorney Pedrosa. “We ask that he issue an executive order to stop the building of new coal plants and coal mines. The climate crisis is a ticking time bomb. Time is of the essence. It is an imperative that the incoming President takes concrete and decisive action immediately.”

Nacpil explained that, “Duterte is right in saying that industrialized nations are the main culprits in the climate crisis and that they have the responsibility to provide climate finance and the technology to countries such as the Philippines. However, all countries must take action if the world is to succeed in keeping temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees and prevent climate catastrophe. The Philippines must take on its fair share of global actions to address climate change. This includes the transformation of its energy system away from fossil fuels, mobilizing domestic resources and demanding climate finance from the rich countries to make this possible“.