Climate and Environment

Groups hit Marcos' 'lack of ambition' in clean energy transition

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Groups hit Marcos' 'lack of ambition' in clean energy transition
President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. answers questions during an ambush interview during the presentation of the 160 MW Pagudpud Wind farm in Barangay Caparispisan, Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte on May 19, 2023.
The STAR/KJ Rosales

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 3:34 p.m.) — Clean energy campaigners criticized the lack of ambitious targets for renewable energy and the absence of just energy transition in the second State of the Nation Address of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. 

In a speech delivered before Congress Monday, Marcos said that renewable energy is “the way forward.”

“We are aggressively promoting renewables, so that it provides a 35 percent share in the power mix by 2030, and then on to 50 percent by 2040. To accelerate the realization of this green energy goal, we have opened renewable energy projects to foreign investments,” Marcos said. 

Power for People Coalition, however, said these targets are insufficient to drive a meaningful and rapid transition to clean energy.

“Fifty percent by 2040 is too late to prevent catastrophic climate change, as science has already told us. Fifty percent by 2040 is also too long to wait for consumers to have reasonably priced electricity, free from dependence on foreign fossil fuel sources. Fifty percent by 2040 is too little, too late,” said Gerry Arances, convenor of Power for People Coalition. 

“We remind the president that it is a path that requires speed and scale to meet climate and energy security goals,” he added. 

In 2020, only 21% of the country’s generated power came from renewables such as solar, wind, hydropower, and geothermal.

The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change earlier said that there must be “rapid and far-reaching transitions” across all sectors and systems in order to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.

Greenpeace campaigner Khevin Yu also said that a just energy transition was not given any significance in this year’s SONA. The concept of just energy transition recognizes that shifts to cleaner and more sustainable energy sources should also address the social, economic and environmental impacts on workers and communities.

“A just energy transition should be the government’s main agenda for the energy industry right now,” Yu said.

Gas exploration

In his second SONA, Marcos also mentioned the extension of the Malampaya deep water gas-to-power project in Palawan and the push for gas explorations in other parts of the country.

He said the government has partnered with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao on energy exploration, development and utilization. 

“Fossil gas, like coal, is not clean and sustainable. It is a costly fuel, its prices are volatile, and it is not seen to lower electricity rates in the Philippines,” The Climate Reality Project Philippines said. “Instead of gas exploration, investments should be channeled to renewable energy projects.”

Marcos also did not mention nuclear development in his speech. The Department of Energy, however, said last week that it was considering a target of 2,400 megawatts in nuclear power capacity by 2035. 

Groups such as the Center for Energy, Ecology and Development warn that nuclear energy will not only pose dangers to host communities, but also block genuine transition to renewable energy.

“We take his omission of questionable energy sources, like LNG and nuclear, with a grain of salt,” said Avril de Torres, deputy executive director of CEED.

“While they were not mentioned, we are aware that LNG and nuclear are being put forward at the policy level, investments are being welcomed, and diplomatic relationships are being built by the administration based on shared interests of promoting these technologies,” she added.

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