THE Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) supports the goal of reducing the country’s greenhouse gases and mitigate climate change, but said the anti-coal power sentiment of former US Vice President Al Gore was misplaced.
In a statement, FPI said measures to mitigate climate change should be aligned with national priorities, circumstances and capabilities, which should be based on co-benefit measures such as programs for forestation.
These are the measures that can be done by underdeveloped countries like the Philippines, unlike more developed countries that have vowed to reduce the use of coal power plants in power generation.
Jesus Lim Arranza, FPI chairman, disagreed with the recent call of former US Vice President Al Gore during his visit to the Philippines.
Gore had called for “people power” action against various coal power plant projects in the country to achieve the target of reducing the Philippines’ greenhouse gases.
“This is not only misplaced but reflects a complete lack of understanding of local conditions,” Arranza said.
He said the FPI has been pro-climate change mitigation and has been urging various groups and firms to adopt environment friendly methods, but not at the expense of other projects which could stall the country’s growth.
He said that the campaign to fight global warming should be done in the context of “co-benefits”.
Examples of co-beneficial measures at present are robust reforestation, traffic decongestion to avoid massive carbon dioxide emissions during heavy traffic in the metro, and a rational evaluation of the Philippine policy on renewable energies (RE).
The Philippines, with its 100 million-strong population, only accounts for 1.37 percent of the world’s population and only contributes a mere 0.24 percent to global carbon dioxide emissions yearly, which is significantly lower than the 1 percent of other countries.
The country’s greenhouse gas emission is only minimal compared to the rest of the world, and it has more RE capacity than many other countries.
FPI noted that more developed countries have higher greenhouse gas emissions such as the United States (17 percent), Germany (8.9 percent), China (6.7 percent), and even neighboring country Thailand (4.5 percent).
The Philippines is one of the countries with the highest electricity rates in the world—being the ninth highest in the world and second in Asia—and the introduction of the feed-in-tariff (FiT) system that subsidizes renewable energy generation projects would only jack up power rates even more.
Of the total power generation projects in the country, only 32 percent are from RE sources, mostly from geothermal and hydropower resources, which is higher than those of more developed countries like the 24 percent penetration of RE in Germany and 12.2 percent in the US.
Arranza said the Philippines has only 23 coal-fired power plants, which are the backbone of the country’s power sector, and they comprise 35 percent of the 6,000 megawatts total power generated in the country yearly.
“Coal power plants are base-load power plants that provide stable and dependable power that addresses the requirements of manufacturers and producers on a 24/7 basis,” he said, describing Al Gore’s statements during his stay in the Philippines as “irresponsible.”
He pointed out that the Philippine government should in turn have stronger policies to reduce greenhouse gases through focus on co-benefit measures, which need not result in moving against coal-fired power generation.
“Gore should instead focus his efforts in his own backyard as there are more than 1,500 coal power plants in the United States,” Arranza said.
The Philippines is sticking to its pledge in last year’s Paris Summit of reducing its greenhouse gases by 70 percent by 2030.
FPI is an industry group composed of 34 industry associations and 120 manufacturing firms as members.