Looking back on PNoy’s wavering support of sustainable energy

With his last State of the Nation Address today, July 27, Benigno Aquino III wraps up five years of energy policies heavily focused on fossil fuels at a time when all other countries are moving toward greener technologies.   With the Paris climate summit taking place this year, global emphasis on making the shift to the use of renewable energy is higher than ever before.

Solar energy projects

The Procurement Service – Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PS-PhilGEPS) of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) was the first government office to install a solar rooftop, less than a year after Manuel L. Quezon University became the first solar-powered university in ManilaCommercial institutions have also started installing their own solar panels, with the government offering financial incentives for those who do.   For President Benigno Aquino III’s final State of the Nation Address (SONA), Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles is pushing for Aquino to endorse a measure to promote jobs in the field of renewable energy, among other bills.

Not always green

However, the government hasn’t always consistently supported this push for greener energy. In 2012, 73.1% of local electricity was generated from fossil fuels, particularly coal and natural gas, with only 26.56% generated from renewable energy sources (hydropower and geothermal, specifically). As of 2014, 0.34% of electricity production came from solar, wind, and biomass sources.   In fact, one of the targets of the Philippine Energy Plan 2012-2030, developed by the Department of Energy (DOE), is the accelerated exploration of coal. The government also supposedly gave the go-ahead for 59 coal power plants and 118 coal mining permits.   This is hardly in line with the global trend of making a move towards greener energy production.

Mentions in previous SONAs

In his fourth SONA, Aquino expressed some doubt over the use of renewable energy.   “Magtatayo ka ng wind; paano kung walang hangin? Kung solar, paano kung makulimlim? Lilinawin ko lang po: Naniniwala rin ako sa renewable energy at suportado natin ito, pero dapat ding may mga baseload plant na sisigurong tuloy-tuloy ang daloy ng kuryente sa ating mga tahanan at industriya,” he said.   During his fifth SONA, there was no mention at all of renewable energy.

Death toll from coal reliance

If we continue on the path of using coal, an estimated 50,000 Filipinos will die within the next 25 years, claimed various environmental groups—deaths caused by the negative impact of coal processing on people’s health.   “The government can no longer turn a blind eye to these mishaps. To play ignorant would be an insult to the Filipino people seeking justice and accountability from these exploitative corporations,” the groups said.

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Looking back on PNoy’s wavering support of sustainable energy