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Aquino orders sweeping review of PH’s energy policy

Gov’t aims to cut down country’s dependence on coal

The Aquino administration has ordered a review of the country’s energy policy, which may see the Philippines moving away from carbon-intensive coal power generation.

In a statement, the Climate Change Commission (CCC) said President Aquino signed Commission Resolution No. 2016-001, which mandated the agency to lead an “urgent and comprehensive” review of the government’s energy policy within the next six months.

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CCC was told to do “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.”

CCC, with the help of other concerned government agencies, was also ordered to set a clear government policy on coal-fired power plants, the biggest source of man-made carbon emissions, accounting for about 35 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

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The resolution also ordered the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Economic Development Authority (Neda) to harmonize policies and regulations on new and existing coal-fired power plants and assess their impact on the environment, as well as include low-carbon development and climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies in the formulation of all national and local development plans.

CCC vice chair and Secretary Emmanuel de Guzman said this transition was supported by existing laws such as the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) of 2011 and the Renewable Energy Law of 2008.

Aquino, who chairs the CCC, signed the resolution last May 18. De Guzman and commissioners Frances Veronica Victorino and Noel Antonio Gaerlan also signed the resolution.

“We are happy 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.

The CCC resolution affirmed the government’s resolve to create a low carbon development pathway in accordance with the country’s commitment under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and its intended nationally determined contribution (INDC), he said. INDCs indicate the climate actions a pledging country intends to take.

In October 2015, the Philippines submitted during the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC its INDC, whereby it pledged to reduce its GHG emissions by 70 percent by 2030, subject to support provided by developed countries. The reductions will come from the energy, transport, waste, forestry and industry sectors.

As a member of the UNFCCC, the Philippines supported the adoption of the global climate accord reached in Paris, France, in December last year. Upon the recommendation of the Cabinet Cluster on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation, President Aquino, through Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, signed the Paris Agreement in New York last month.

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The Philippines also supported the adoption of the Sendai Framework on Disaster  Risk Reduction 2015-2030 and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, both of which advocate for a balance between economic growth and environmental protection toward building a resilient future.

“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 GHG emission reductions in order to achieve the primary goal of the new global climate deal reached in Paris last year, which is to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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TAGS: Business, economy, Energy, News, PH, Philippines, policy, President Benigno Aquino III, review
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