The Philippines: a nation suffering from climate impacts, in a pro-coal administration

The Philippine government has been steadily prioritizing coal, gas, and oil as the country’s main sources of energy . Unfortunately, this strategy will never help achieve energy security but will only increase the country’s dependence on imported fossil fuels.

The question of coal is particularly serious. Given the economic, social and environmental havoc that climate change has wrought  on the Philippines, embracing fossil fuels is a dangerous policy. Short term benefits of coal to some elite players in the Philippine economy pale in comparison to the billions that coal and oil are costing the Philippines as a nation, with respect to climate change impacts alone.

For instance, 13 operational coal-fired power plants already burn coal to produce electricity, with an installed capacity of 5,568 MW in 2013. Worse yet, the government plans to bring online another 45 coal-fired power plants. Operating the 45 new coal-fired power stations with a capacity of over 10,300 MW could push up the Philippines’ CO2 emissions by over 64.4 to 79.8 million metric tons a year. Our leaders have been publicly talking a green talk, but quietly walking on the path of dirty fossil fuels.

The Philippines is amongst the countries in the world most vulnerable to climate change – meaning it is also in the best position to convince other nations to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. Continuing to burn coal damages the nation’s credibility in fighting for a fair, ambitious, binding climate change treaty that can save the planet and the country.

There is a real alternative to dirty fossil fuels: renewable energy. It can bring jobs, cost savings, and money to the Philippines. Moreover, it can make a dent in energy poverty for remote areas, expanding access to electricity for the most vulnerable in poor communities. Renewable energy is also the key to making electricity rates affordable for consumers, and can foster national energy independence.