The Philippines is just one of a number of pacific countries that have been hit hard by weather events related to climate change. The country’s resilience to typhoons, flooding and other disastrous events that have taken place over the past few years is a testament to the nation’s willingness to rise above adversity.
But in October this year, the Climate Change Commission expressed dismay over the coming CO21 meeting in Paris after listening to the Philippines’ carbon cutting goals for 2022, calling them “insincere.” Now we can see why those carbon cutting goals were a lot of hot air.
According to the Global Coal Plant Tracker in August this year, 52 new coal power plants are in the works, and the number could actually be even higher. Philippines climate commissioner Heherson Alvarez was quoted in the RTCC as saying he feared the energy department was already planning for a high carbon energy future.
It is somewhat understandable that countries like the Philippines, India, China and other fast-growing Asian nations experiencing population growth and a surging economy, are looking at coal as a cheap alternative to more eco-friendly power options.
But it appears Philippine President Benigno Aquino is talking out of both sides of his mouth. Aquino told the BBC on Monday that coal generates about 42 percent of the country’s electricity, and with the additional coal-fired plants, coal’s share of generating power will be increased to 70 percent of more in the next 20 years.
The BBC is reporting Aquino says reducing the use of coal in favor of gas, a popular choice for many, was not an option because of a lack of gas-importing facilities. He adds that while the Philippines has increased its share in renewables,it hasn’t become that popular until very recently.
When asked about using solar power, Aquino said, “the price was considered too high so that it would bring up all of the electricity rates which would make us not competitive and will hamper the growth.” He added that higher rates would “raise a hue and cry from our people about very high electricity rates which are at points in time the highest in the region”.
President Aquino admits the price of solar power has dropped, but looking at a cloudy sky. he said the electricity would be intermittent, the same as for wind power. “For instance, if we go to wind, are the wind turbines really working or not? Solar will get affected by cloudy conditions like this.”
So this leaves the COP21 meeting in Paris next week with additional worries, because it doesn’t look like the Philippines is going to do anything about greenhouse gas emissions, except add more to what we are already dealing with.