by Rhodina Villanueva
(published by The Philippine Star, July 25, 2019) READ THE FULL STORY HERE
MANILA, Philippines — Environmentalists lauded President Duterte for emphasizing the need “to fast-track renewable energy (RE) resources to reduce the country’s dependence on traditional energy sources such as coal” in his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday.
Renato Redentor Constantino, executive director of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, said, “The President’s call to fast-track renewable energy projects to reduce dependence on coal is the signal policymakers need to hear. No less than the country’s chief executive is echoing what financial institutions now robustly recognize, that the Philippines is needlessly dependent on economically harmful, unreliable and heavily subsidized polluting coal and imported fossil fuels.”
“The country already has $21 billion worth of stranding coal plant assets in the pipeline, and we already pay more than $200 million per year in diesel subsidies. But we can achieve energy security and secure more affordable, cleaner power by hastening the transition to renewable energy,” the group said.
Constantino also said, “As Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas managing director Lyn Javier said last Friday in their Greening the Finance System launch with private sector groups, ‘climate change affects the entire economy, yet the financial sector is not fully aware of the impacts of climate change to our businesses.’”
The Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities is a Manila-based international climate and energy policy group advancing climate resilience and low carbon development.
The Center for Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED) also welcomed the statement issued by President Duterte in his SONA, recognizing “the urgent need to ensure the sustainability and availability of resources and development of alternative ones,” and ordering Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi to “fast-track the development of renewable energy sources,” and to “reduce dependence on traditional energy sources such as coal.”
“We hope that this SONA signals the shift of the administration’s energy policy largely favoring coal towards one which harnesses the potential of more RE sources to lower power costs, reduce our carbon emissions, and power a people-centered development. But this hope will be fortified if the President lifts the unjust privilege enjoyed by coal companies through Executive Order 30, at the expense of the environment and the rights of citizens and consumers,” said Gerry Arances, CEED executive director.
Executive Order 30 establishes the Energy Investment Coordinating Council, an inter-agency group to be led by a representative of the Department of Energy. It is ordered to “establish a simplified approval process, and harmonize the relevant rules and regulations of all government agencies involved in obtaining permits and regulatory approvals” when it comes to implementing big-ticket energy projects.