THE Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) is asking the Aquino Administration to make further consultations before implementing the Paris Summit commitments made by President BS Aquino and his Philippine Climate Change Commission. In his speech in Paris, President Aquino regaled the international community by announcing that our country’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions would be down by 70 percent in 2030. The Philippine Climate Change Commission had earlier made that same commitment on October 1, 2015 to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which is the UN-designated international multilateral body tasked to oversee the global effort against Climate Change.
The FPI has issued a solemn statement officially urging “the country delegates to carefully plan for the steps forward in adopting mitigating measures.” It said: “The FPI signed the Manila Declaration supporting the government’s effort to establish the Intended National Declaration of Contributions (INDC) or the mitigation measures conditioned on these being aligned to national priorities, circumstances and capabilities.”
In several statements FPI publicly issued prior to the Paris Summit, it had asked that “the business and industry sectors be given more say in climate pledges.” Now, FPI “looks with caution on the government’s pledge to reduce greenhouse gases by seventy (70 percent) percent while noting that this is much higher than that [the pledges]of the big emitters; China’s and India’s actual commitment being still vague, the USA to 26 – 30 percent.”
FPI said “it fears that adopting wrong strategies to achieve the 70 percent pledge will hurt the Philippine economy to the ultimate detriment of the poor and the nation’s capability to institute adaptation measures against climate change-induced disasters.”
We have observed indeed that the FPI has been advocating that the Philippine’s mitigating action be anchored on co-benefit measures that will not unnecessarily impede economic growth.
FPI Chairman Jesus Lim Arranza notes that fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas remain the most viable alternative at present. He says “The cost of electricity in the Philippines is one of the highest in the region which translates to burdens that the poor will have to shoulder. Moving away from fossil fuels will need long time to implement; however, the impact on global warming will not be significantly injurious considering the Philippines’ very low Green House Gas (GHG) and carbon dioxide inventories.”
FPI supports President Aquino’s call for Renewable Energy. But the Federation correctly wants to have clearer guidelines, noting the commitment to increasing “the 33 percent energy mix.” Mr. Arranza stresses that “energy mix” should not be measured in terms of plant capacities expressed in Megawatts but in production rates measurable in gigawatt-hours of annual production.
FPI also calls for the resolution of outstanding issues in the Renewable Energy Act.
The Federation also noted the laudable but ambitious Philippine forestation plan declared by President Aquino in Paris. But FPI believes however that thorough study must be first made such as in establishing whether there are enough lands on which to plant the declared 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares to be completed by next year. And Mr. Arranza committed the FPI to support this plan.
FPI also urged that in addition to reforestation, other co-benefit measures such as improved energy efficiencies and usages, decongestion of traffic which is a major cause of greenhouse gas emissions “while creating unfavorable living conditions in Philippine cities” be seriously and urgently studied by the government.
We in The Times completely endorse the concerns and suggestions made by the Federation as summarized in the paragraphs above.
But we also wish to console the FPI with the thought that we expressed in this space sometime last December–that BS Aquino was merely conning his audience in Paris with the 70 percent commitment. He gave his speech knowing fully well that it could not be done since he had in fact authorized the construction of so many coal-fired electric-generating plants just before his departure for the Paris Summit and a large number of such plants were in fact under construction and still are. This means the productivity of Philippine industries should not be disrupted all of a sudden.
Still one can really not be sure under the Aquino regime, which has shown an amazing capacity to destroy good things and introduce infantile and wasteful methods.