AN industry lobby has called on the government to rethink its energy policies and adopt caution before implementing its climate pledges to ensure that such policies will not impede the country’s economic growth.
The Federation of Philippine Industries (FPI) noted that the country’s commitment to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 70 percent by 2030, which it pledged at the Paris Summit in December last year, was “much higher” than those of big emitters like China, India, and even the United States which pledged a reduction of only 20 percent to 30 percent.
The adoption of “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,” the group said.
FPI chairman Jesus Lim Arranza said, “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 and carbon dioxide inventories.”
With the cost of electricity in the country already being one of the highest in the region, moving away from fossil fuels to meet the emission pledges may further burden the poor, Arranza said.
He said there should be clearer guidelines on increasing the energy mix by 33 percent in accordance with the government’s push for higher usage of renewable energy.
He noted that the “energy mix” should be measured via gigawatt hour-based annual production rate than the current measurement of plant capacities in megawatts.
Certain issues surrounding the Renewable Energy Act, such as tariff implementation on renewable energy players which pass on their cost burdens to consumers, should also be resolved, the federation said.
The FPI said an ambitious reforestation plan should be implemented but it should be studied first to make sure there is enough land to plant the declared 1.5 billion trees in 2017, which can be accommodated on a total of 1.5 million hectares of land.
The federation also proposed implementing co-benefit measures such as improved energy usage and traffic decongestion to cut down greenhouse gas emissions which endangers living conditions in cities.
The efforts are part of FPI’s participation in the Manila Declaration, which supports the government’s effort to establish an Intended National Declaration of Contributions (INDC), or mitigation measures aligned to national priorities, circumstances and capabilities.
The Paris Summit was attended by delegates from 195 countries in December 2015, with the hope of stopping global warming and climate change which causes intensified natural disasters across the globe.