Philippines’ infrastructure boom must be climate-smart and resilient

WWF on Dutertenomics

July 23, 2017

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Infrastructure development has been a strategic focus of the Duterte administration, allocating billions of public funds to infrastructure investment in order to sustain a seven to eight percent economic growth in the coming years.

Atty. Angela Consuelo Ibay, Climate Change and Energy Programme Head of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines shares, “Infrastructure development should be climate-smart and resilient – ensuring infrastructure plans, projects and policies are in place to address the present and future impacts of climate change and disasters.”

By advancing inclusive and low carbon development, there is a great opportunity of increasing the country’s renewable energy (RE) output and contribution to the country’s current energy mix to power these new infrastructures – from lighting roads to operating subways, airports, and seaports – showing that the country’s infrastructure upgrade can be done in a sustainable manner. In the advent of extreme weather, climate, and hazard events, ensuring public safety is also important as Filipinos strive for greater urban-rural connectivity and permeability especially in disaster-prone Philippines.

The recent 6.5 earthquake that hit Leyte toppled power lines and damaged power plants causing power cuts in the Visayas. This shows that centralized power generation remains vulnerable to disasters and should be backed-up by distributed renewable energy systems.

With the spate of typhoons and earthquakes devastating the country in recent years, it is high time to invest more in energy infrastructure upgrades and include more RE in the power mix to ensure efficient energy generation, transmission, and distribution. In the aftermath of disasters, mitigating economic disruption brought by infrastructure and power breakdown is key to immediate recovery and rehabilitation.

Renewables currently account for just 30 percent of the country’s energy mix. The government-led National Renewable Energy Plan (NREP) aims to triple RE capacity to 15,304 MW by 2030, but WWF-Philippines thinks it can do much better.

As the 134th signatory country to the Paris Climate Agreement, the Philippines pledged to cut its carbon emissions conditionally by 70 percent in its Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC). These carbon emission reductions will be taken from the country’s top sectoral sources of carbon emissions – transport, forestry, waste, energy, and industry.

A recent ADB study on climate change released a warning that the Philippines’ development gains, along with the rest of Asia Pacific region, can be easily wiped out by the devastating effects of climate change that threatens stability and security in the region.

“As a developing country, we can grow our economy and rise from poverty without being dependent on fossil fuels. Achieving energy security should go in hand with protecting our natural resources. Shifting to renewables is our least expensive chance to achieve energy independence while fighting climate change and building resilience to disasters,” Ibay adds.

As President Rodrigo Roa Duterte prepares to deliver his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on 24 July 2017, following the end of his first year in office, WWF-Philippines together with other climate solutions and renewable energy advocates, call on the President to:

  1. Fast-track the implementation RE Law mechanisms such as Renewable Portfolio Standards; Green Energy Option and RE Market. 
  2. Push for the passage of Energy Efficiency and Conservation Bill and Green Buildings Law that will ensure energy sustainability with the management of energy demand, encouraging production efficiency with little or no cost.
  3. Deliver more definite and ambitious commitment to the Paris Agreement by strengthening legislative and executive support to sustain climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.

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