PHL climate commitment is doable, says ex-solon

By on May 29, 2017

MANILA— An environment advocate believes the Philippines can meet its 70 percent greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction commitment under the Paris agreement on climate change.

“Our commitment is within reach,” said environment advocate and former senator Heherson Alvarez on Monday during the multi-sector consultation for the roadmap aimed at helping the Philippines meet such commitment by 2030.

He noted the country has sun, wind and other natural resources that are available for harnessing into clean renewable energy (RE).

Increasingly harnessing such resources will help the country shift to RE and replace coal-based power production that’s among main generators of GHG emissions, he noted.

“The bounty of Philippine RE resources will enable us to deliver on our commitment,” he said.

Adopted in December 2015 at the 21st Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Paris agreement seeks avoiding dangerous climate change through global GHG emission reduction so temperature rise can be limited to well below 2°C.

Energy expert Roberto Verzola said RE must already account for around 53 percent of Philippine energy mix by 2022 to help the country meet its Paris Agreement commitment.

Implementing RE projects government already identified will help reach such energy mix, he noted.

He raised urgency for action, doubtful the Philippines will fulfill its commitment under the Paris Agreement if government sticks to the Department of Energy (DOE) plan for RE.

“DOE’s plan for RE to have a 30 percent share of the energy mix will result in only a 12 percent reduction in the country’s GHG emissions by 2030,” he said at the event’s side.

Alvarez urged the private sector to help mainstream RE in the Philippines.

“Coal plants today account for some 50 percent of Philippine requirements – this is the challenge technology can help address,” he said.

Technological advances are increasingly making RE a viable alternative to coal-based power, he noted.

He said cost of solar power is particularly becoming more competitive so this power alternative has much potential for further use in the country.

Scientists continue cautioning about GHG emissions, warning these accumulate in the atmosphere and trap heat there so global temperature rises resulting in climate change.

Sea level and temperature rise as well as increasing onslaught of extreme weather events are climate change’s impacts on the Philippines, they said.

The Philippines isn’t among major GHG emitters worldwide but is one of several countries most vulnerable to the changing climate’s impacts, they noted.

Alvarez said countries must collectively prevent global temperature rise from going beyond the Paris agreement’s target threshold.

“Even a 1.5°C rise will already cause polar ice to melt,” he noted.

He said such melting will force seas to rise by 2.10 m to 2.40 m.

“That’s already enough to inundate a number of our small islands,” he said.

Palawan islands are barely 1.5 m above sea level so these face inundation if polar ice melts, he noted.

Environment advocate Sen. Loren Legarda said some 25 major coastal cities, 800 coastal municipalities and over 60 provinces nationwide are at risk for flooding due to sea level rise.

“That’s even a conservative estimate,” she noted.

She further warned climate change will destroy coral reefs and other habitats, jeopardizing food security.

“We must take action now,” she said.

The Philippines committed reducing its GHG emissions subject to developed countries’ support.

Government said such target reduction will come from the energy, transport, waste, forestry and industry sectors.

Discussions during the multi-sectoral consultation focused on such sectors and related concerns.

Outputs generated during the consultation will serve as additional inputs for developing the roadmap that’ll help the Philippines meet its commitment under the Paris Agreement.