FOUR months after taking charge of the nation, the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte is still seeking to strike a balance in defining an energy policy that will meet specific requirements of the country and comply with carbon emission regulations.
In October 2015, the Philippines submitted to the United Nations its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC). It stated the country’s role in the global efforts to fight and adapt to climate change and its commitment to reduce its carbon emissions by 70 percent by the year 2030.
The roadmap also took into consideration the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and the 1.5 degrees Celsius goal for the global temperature of the 2015 Paris Agreement. Take note that reduction of carbon emissions is to come not only from the energy sector; other sectors like transportation, waste disposal, forestry, and industry also have a role to play.
Meanwhile, President Duterte said on July 18 that his administration would not honor the December 2015 Paris agreement on climate change, although the Philippines had adaptedit along with 200 other countries.
The Paris agreement on climate change, the president thinks is “blocking the progress of developing countries like the Philippines.” According to him, the industrialized nations are “dictating the destiny” of the developing countries by requiring them to cut carbon emissions.
Alfonso Cusi, the secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE), told The Manila Times that the department’s new strategy is to review first the energy sector’s contribution as indicated in the intended nationally determined contributions (INDC).
“This will be done in order to rightfully determine the energy sector’s possible contribution while taking into account the Philippines’ baseload capacity profile. Revisiting the energy sector’s contributions whilst assessing the baseload capacity is essential in order to render supply security and stability, and recognize that this will not be affected whatever the sector’s final commitment will be,” Cusi said.
At present, the DOE in partnership with USAID is conducting a study on the appropriate energy mix under the Energy Policy and Development Program (EPDP) of the University of the Philippines School of Economics and Building Low Emission Alternatives to Develop Economic Resiliency and Sustainability (BLEADERS).
“Likewise, the Climate Change Commission (CCC) in coordination with other concerned agencies agreed to start anew estimations for the appropriate greenhouse gas reduction goals, which will consider the country’s development goal and economic growth,” Cusi said.
Before the Duterte administration came into office, CCC had started its task of comprehensively reviewing the government’s energy policy that is expected to reshape the country’s power development plans and replace coal with renewable sources of energy.
A comprehensive review of the government’s energy policy involves a whole-of-nation approach to achieve low-carbon development pathway and national goals and targets for climate change mitigation and adaptation, disaster risk reduction and sustainable development.
The previous administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd had defined a scheme to reduce the country’s dependence on coal. It targeted a fuel mix of 30 percent coal, 30 percent renewable energy, 30 percent natural gas, and 10 percent oil-based power plants.
The previous initiatives for the development of INDC such as Cost Benefit Analysis study among others, however, will still be useful in the formulation of new targets. It will only be enhanced by updating the data and assumptions to carry over the energy sector’s main thrust and mandate – to ensure energy security towards the economic development,” Cusi said.
The DOE, meanwhile, ordered the technical audit of the power generating plants to ensure that they comply with carbon emission regulations. Energy Department also signed Memorandum of Agreements (MOAs) with the Institute of Integrated Electrical Engineers of the Philippines (IIEE) and the Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers (PSME). These professional associations, known for their technical knowledge, expertise, and competence in the power sector will assist the DOE in addressing the current energy situation.
Secretary Cusi said that the new energy mix policy wouldbe released by the first quarter of 2017 if not by the end of this year.
“The country’s energy mix presents the energy resources that are sourced domestically and internationally. The study concerning the updating of energy mix policy is expected to be completedby the end of 2016 or first quarter of 207,” Cusi said.“Apart from an energy mix, it is also relevant to have the right technology mix for power generation in order to ensure greater stability and reliability in the grid. Having the appropriate technology mix ensures that the country has sufficient and stable baseload capacity or simply having various/diverse types of baseload power plants providing ample supply 24/7,”