Greenpeace report: Philippines gets failing mark due to massive use of coal

Published September 24, 2020, 8:07 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

The Philippines got a failing mark of “D+” due to its strong inclination to coal power generation, a new Greenpeace Southeast Asia report revealed on Thursday.

The report titled, “Southeast Asia Power Sector Scorecard,” cited that the Philippines was an early leader on renewable energy (RE) after the introduction of the RE Act in 2008.

However, subsequent years have seen the country’s share of coal in the energy mix rising to 52 percent.

And under current plans, the Philippines will have over 60 percent of coal in its energy generation mix in 2030, and only around 5 percent of solar and wind.

A day after President Duterte urged world leaders to strengthen their commitment to fight the climate crisis, the Greenpeace report revealed that the Philippines may not be able to reach its commitment to keep global temperatures below 1.5-degrees global temperature with the version of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Philippine Energy Plan.

“President Duterte has called for urgent action to the climate crisis – but it seems that this has fallen on deaf ears in the DOE, whose lackluster approach to RE and support for coal is preventing us from fulfilling our 1.5-degree commitment,” Greenpeace Philippines campaigner Khevin Yu said. 

The scorecard maps business-as-usual and best-case RE scenarios for eight countries in Southeast Asia using the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 1.5 degrees pathway. 

This graded snapshot of each country’s energy transition, fossil fuel exclusions, solar and wind market development, policies and pricing, competition, and coronavirus stimulus benchmarks progress on RE and climate action. 

According to the report, coal power dominance has made the Philippines highly dependent on imported fossil fuels, with a near tripling of its thermal coal imports in less than 10 years. 

However, the report also cited that the country can still be on track with global climate targets if it creates exclusions for new coal and gas starting this year, increase its RE target to 50 percent by 2030, and improve grid development for utility-scale solar and wind.

“The country’s vested coal interests, erratic policy shifts, and political bottlenecks hinder the transition to a low-carbon pathway. We still have a workable chance to be on track with our commitments, but DOE must be more ambitious on RE with its energy plan for 2018-2040, and rally energy companies to shift away from coal,” Yu said.“Because of this pandemic, we have an opportunity to shift to forward-looking investments that do not harm the environment and peoples’ health and well-being. There is a whole range of opportunities for green, people-centered investments in RE, compared to harmful fossil fuels. As part of its call for urgency on climate action, we are calling on the Duterte administration to initiate a managed phase-out of fossil fuel-dependent energy generation and infrastructure, reshape the economy and direct energy policies to respond to the climate crisis,” he added.