Reforms In Energy Sector Key To Climate Change Mitigation

Renewable energy experts reiterate the importance of reviewing and revising the energy mix of the country as one of the most vital and impactful means to address climate change and to fortify the Philippines against climate risks.

This is a key message at a panel discussion on renewable energy at the 2019 State of Nature Assessment or ‘Green SONA’ organized by non-profit eco-coalition Green Convergence together with the Forest Foundation Philippines. This year’s conference was held in Puerto Princesa City in Palawan, one of the largest and most important eco-tourism and ecological sites in the country.

The energy sector is the greatest contributor to climate change, with almost 61 percent of all carbon emissions worldwide coming from electricity production and industrial processes, according to Miguel S. De Vera, head of strategic initiatives, legal and regulatory office of renewable energy firm Energy Development Corporation (EDC).

“Even if we take into account other sectors that emit carbon and other greenhouse gases, as much as 93 percent of total emissions can already be addressed with the singular act of moving toward renewable energy sources,” explained De Vera.

Of the various sources of energy being utilized across the globe today, coal-fired power plants are the single largest contributor to emissions. In 2018, it is estimated that coal emissions increased by around 280 megatons (Mt), comprising majority of the total 550 Mt increase from 2017 levels. Overall global carbon emissions reached a historic high of 33.1 gigatons (Gt) last year.

In the Philippines, coal continues to comprise majority of the country’s energy mix—more than half—and is largely seen as the baseload power of choice due to continued perceptions of cheaper costs.

“This is a wrong notion because the tradeoff with coal is permanent and irreversible damage to our environment and to our overall health and well-being, as well as to the future of our natural resources,” said De Vera.

“The Philippines should join the global pivot toward cleaner energy sources and do our share in contributing to the fight against worldwide climate change,” he added.

The panel discussion reiterated the advantages of renewable energy in the wake of technological advancements and increasingly favorable economic factors. “First, renewable energy sources such as geothermal are indigenous to our country. We are not at the mercy of market forces unlike with fossil fuels such as coal and oil,” said De Vera.

Energy storage technologies are also making naturally abundant sources such as wind and solar more viable. Geothermal energy, meanwhile, remains to be the baseload power of choice for energy experts because of its reliable and stable nature, according to De Vera.

“Geothermal is a pioneering energy source that played a big role in saving our nation from economic and political turmoil in the 1970s. It is what will save us from the threats of climate change today and in the future,” he concluded.

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