The illusion of 70%


Last of two parts

THERE is a glaring disconnect here. Not only is the sole quantifiable measure of targeted achievement set under the October 1, 2015 document not in consonance to the stated policy of the President of the Philippines, it appears infirm in other relevant aspects too, as follows:

1. The Director General of the National Economic Development Authority [NEDA] appears not to have not been consulted in the preparation of the INDC. This is a critical lapse. He chairs the Philippine Council for Sustainable Development, a vital organ charged with evaluating and recording the impacts of any and all projections of commitments to be made by national government agencies [the Commission being one]to bilateral and multilateral institutions, as they ultimately redound into commitments of the Republic of the Philippines. How will Philippine economic growth targets, and derivative projections therefrom, be influenced by the macro INDC commitments of the Climate Change Commission to the UNFCCC, for example. These are hard questions that need quantified answers before an international official document may be finalized. NEDA is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Commission.

2. The Department of Agriculture–one of the major players for any GhG emissions reduction program to succeed — did not seem to have been a participant in the INDC process. As another member of the Advisory Board of the Commission, the DA’s input is deemed organic to said process. Other line agencies may be similarly placed.

3. On its face the INDC sole quantifiable measure of targeted achievement lacks a most crucial element —a verified emissions baseline year reference. From this, the measure of success may be calculated in the future. Without it, the ambitious 70 percent emissions reduction target for 2030 translates to a meaningless figure.

This may indicate that the INDC may have been designed to fail from the onset.

The INDC fails to make mention any figures as to a financial claim/s for either Climate Justice or Climate Finance for the Philippines. The second benchmark of negotiation posture thereby appears structurally weak as well. Any serious claimant knows well to incorporate a specific amount for damages and/or loss in any Confrontation process. Is there still any doubt the COP 21 is an open venue for Confrontation processes? Our claims will surely go way past COP 21.

It may be good to emulate the emissions reduction-setting initiatives of the larger economy nations. But we have our unique requirements. Classified as an island state nation, the Philippines is a country that is in need of multilateral assistance more on the Adaptation measures, rather than on the Mitigation [GhG reduction] measures. Globally, precisely because we are such an insignificant contributor to global warming [estimated at only one third of one percent of global C02 emissions], the country cannot realistically look forward to securing any significant proportionate share and global attention re: any future GREEN CLIMATE FUND ALLOCATION — the ultimate objective in our negotiation posture — based on the Mitigation argument plea alone.

This is why honest brokering is necessary and demanded of our negotiators. The much stronger argument for negotiation posture in the climate conferences should lie with seeking the deserved climate finance support for philippine adaptation measures. let us be honest and straightforward with our counter-parties. And to realistically secure such climate finance support, quantifiable costs [on Adaptation measures]must be spelled out/ provided in the indc document. One has to lay the financial basis to any serious claim towards Climate Justice and/or Climate Finance.

As indicated in the illustration above, everyone is claiming and disclaiming accountability; and for those who may just offer compensation, they want to know where the money is going to settle a claim. Such is a business decision to be made by the accountable nation, for its own reasons.

And as to the Mitigation front we already have existing enacted laws that deal with the Mitigation issue, actually; for example, we have the Clean Air Act, the B1ofuels Act, the Renewable Energy Act, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act. Enforcement of the enacted laws is what is direly needed in this country to fight the war against greenhouse gas emissions. Financial penalties are attached to violations of these Acts. And are we therefore not double-dipping at the till on this issue —when we go to the Climate Conference for support on Mitigation, then at the same time, make earmark allocations in the General Appropriation Act during the annual fiscal budgeting process under the same purpose?

In conclusion, this writer was asked in an interview at CNN Philippines recently as to my opinion of a targeted objective of 100 percent de-carbonization in the world by year 2050? My reply was, 2050 is so far off as to render any budgetary planning process to combat the recognized environmental ills moot and inutile.

In addition, this writer cannot realistically imagine a world devoid of carbon fuels. It will always remain the cheapest form of energy source. And with the ever-increasing world population, the hunger for energy to light up and feed the earth’s inhabitants simply cannot be wholly met by clean energy [alternative + renewable +energy efficiency]sources. In the mind of this writer, inasmuch as it is the holy grail of committed Climate Change advocates like yours truly, a 100 percent de-carbonized world at any time is an impossibility. Unfortunately, currently the COP 21 is almost equally overshadowed by the international war on terrorism; consequently it is hoped the world leaders’ attentions can be focused momentarily on the push to achieve A BINDING AGREEMENT in Paris, incorporating enough features as to make the same enforceable, lasting, and payment-friendly. [Opinion Editor’s note: A Paris Agreement was achieved–but is it really going to bind all the countries?]

Right at this moment, the 70 percent GhG reduction target set in the Philippine INDC appears to be a galaxy away. 2030 is only 15 short years away.

Our country is not situated in Scandinavia or Upper Mongolia with the unlimited resource of heavy year-round winds; our hydro and geothermal resources are largely identified already and presently being tapped; solar and biomass have no shortage of fuel stock, but require heavy private sector financing support which remains illusive. Energy efficiency does not get official respect; the department of trade and industry removed it from its most recent investment priorities/incentives plan.

The push to 70 percent will surely shut down the Philippine economy, initiate an energy crisis, and will provoke massive unemployment and civil unrest.

The department of energy continues to issue permits for coal-fired power projects at a rate at least six times more than that for clean energy projects. A more moderate target is necessitated. The investment banker’s instinct is taking over the environmentalist’s aspiration.

The Filipino people need to be totally aware of the consequences behind the illusion of 70 percent. A national government long-term economic plan should never be captive to a false premise. Otherwise, further budgetary waste and misdirection will accrue. At best, a lower carbon economy is what is achievable in the journey to 2030.

The dream of a 100 percent de-carbonization of the Philippine economy and environment is a false start.


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