Duterte administration's actions on climate, energy issues easily trump that of predecessor–group

Published July 23, 2021, 12:22 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Climate and energy policy group Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) has a lot of good things to say about President Duterte’s legacy in terms of climate action and renewable energy, even as the leader prepares to wrap up his six-year tenure in Malacañang.

President Rodrigo Duterte (Photo from PCOO Facebook page)

“For sure there have been missteps, and certainly we could have done far more, but overall it needs to be said that this administration has made bigger strides on climate and energy in its first three years compared to the entire term of the previous administration,” said Denise Fontanilla, associate for policy advocacy of ICSC.

“This is also a signal to whoever takes on the reins in 2022 that they must surpass the accomplishments of the current government, out of a sense of duty and urgency,” she said.

Duterte is set to deliver his sixth and final State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 26. He will have stepped down from Malacañang by the end of June next year.

“Individually, the gains [of the current administration] are unequivocal,” Fontanilla reckoned.

“Coal today is demonstrably expensive and unreliable, which means the Department of Energy’s (DOE) leadership deserves to be commended for prioritizing flexible generation as a key strategy to modernizing the country’s power system. If the DOE accelerates competition policy reforms across the sector and abolishes the automatic pass-through policy, which allows fossil companies to operate virtually risk-free, the sooner our people will be able to enjoy the massive economic benefits of clean energy,” she said.

The Manila-based group says that DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi’s call for climate justice “is a call that should be echoed by many as the country has been battered year after year by calamities that are repercussions of the activities of developed countries.”

“And with COVID-19 (coronavirus disease), any form of disaster that the country will face is amplified,” the ICSC added.

Fontanilla also gave high praise to the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the way the local governments units (LGUs) have come together to promote active mobility and prioritizing the needs of cycling commuters and pedestrians over the interests of the minority who own private cars.

“But we must do more and ensure the national plan is anchored on resilience and the knowledge that science is imparting to us. We need more than just the usual medium-term time frames,” she noted.

She understands the need “to plan farther ahead, using at the horizon of at least 18 years in anticipation of harsher impacts from the climate and the fact that the pursuit of sustainable development objectives is what will yield, as a co-benefit, the biggest contribution to the fight against dangerous climate change.”

“It must be said of course that, like with all previous administrations, the challenge continues to be one of coherence across government agencies. Climate-related initiatives remain fragmented and we need to return to basics, raising the importance of adaptation from which greenhouse gas mitigation will emerge as a function of our drive to adapt to the new climate normal,” Fontanilla said.

She further said: “Everything has to come together because we will have to upgrade everything, from infrastructure, to supply chains to urban services, logistics, food supply to the energy sector if we are to do more than just survive. We must thrive even in the worst moments of the climate crisis to come, because we can, and because we must.”