Misconceptions about coal and petroleum-based energy as the cheapest in the market have remained the “most formidable” economic and psychological barrier blocking the accelerated development of renewable energy (RE), the Climate Change Commission (CCC) said.
In his speech during the 1st Ministerial Session of the 14th Delhi Sustainable Development Summit, CCC Commissioner Heherson Alvarez said that policymakers, not only in the Philippines but also all over the world, have the facile notion that carbon energy systems are the easiest pathway toward energy growth and development.
“But, coal and petroleum-based energy remain the cheapest in the market without the destructive externalities imputed into their cost,” he said.
Speaking before leaders, ministers and delegates from 40 countries, the commissioner said that coal and fossil fuels are heavily subsidized, and factoring in the externalities of pollution and climate change costs, these energy systems would be the “most costly and, at the same time, most destructive to the environment.
According to Alvarez, coal-fired power plants, which operate across the Asian region, are the largest single source of carbon emissions, the main culprit for global warming and climate change.
“Expanding coal use in all parts of the world will be very costly in terms of environmental ruin, reduction of water supply, and impairment of food system,” he added.
Despite the Philippines being endowed with all alternative resources of energy, being the second-largest user of geothermal power, and having access to potentially abundant powerful water energy sources, Alvarez said that coal-fired power plants account for more than 36 percent of carbon emissions in the country.
“The number is projected to grow to 86 percent in 2030, reducing alternative energy use from the current 60 percent to a mere 14 percent,” he said.
Alvarez said that technology and financial barriers to access alternative energy resources could be overcome through sustained efforts, with appropriate incentives, and with determined policy changes toward low carbon strategies in power generation.
“Our capacity, not only for sustainability but immediate survival, as a community is impe–riled,” Alvarez said.
“If this ‘horserace’ between mitigation and adaptation, even if the world temperature is abated below that ‘point of no return,’ but global heating is not abated soon enough, our country and many island communities could perish,” he added.
Alvarez stressed that the world must be “transparent and candid” of the great burden of fossil fuel and its terrible externalities, and should manage to reduce its usage so that rationally, it may have its minimum use for the country’s fuel mix, and the transition to a cleaner, healthier, abundant safe energy future will be achieved.