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To: President Benigno Aquino III
Philippine President Aquino Must Take Action on Renewable Energy
Dear Mr. President,
Your State of the Nation Address this year was impressive. We felt it in the air – the wave of positivity that came with the economic and social progress our beloved Philippines has gained under your able leadership. Your matter-of-fact delivery of the administration’s achievements, and your bravado in lambasting corrupt agencies and officials, brought everyone in post-SONA high spirits–everyone, that is, except the advocates of renewable energy in this country and the supporters of the climate movement around the world. We are all still in a state of disbelief, having discovered your views about renewables.
Mr. President, you said you want us to work together to find solutions. Allow us to start off by saying that 100% renewable energy is completely possible. There are several studies available out there on the subject, done by reputable scientific bodies and very respectable non-profit organizations. An article on a plan for 100% RE in the Philippines even came out in the international media just days before your SONA. It is a shame that your speech contradicted this story.
You spoke of the unreliability of wind and solar power. Yes, they are intermittent power sources; but when combined with other RE sources like biomass, hydro, and geothermal, which can act as base load plants in a well-thought-out distributed energy mix, these sources will complement each other to produce reliable energy, peak or off-peak, in any community. Investments in energy storage facilities and smart grids will beef up that reliability to provide higher power reserves for the country.
We agree that this cannot be done overnight and that we need to be pragmatic about our immediate solutions. But we also implore you to be mindful of the fossil fuel plants that are being approved now as stop-gap measures. Mr. President, these coal plants will effectively lock us in a fossil fuel prison for the next 40-50 years, and when it comes to our climate changing, we absolutely cannot afford that much time.
When you mentioned that coal plants are less expensive than RE plants, that is not calculating the true cost of fossil fuel energy. When we factor in the importation costs of fuel, to the health risks and environmental costs, RE would be much cheaper than any available diesel, oil, or coal energy source out there. Not to mention that the volatility of fossil fuel prices will keep us at the mercy of global markets for a very long time, steering us away from national energy sustainability and independence.
Globally, the cost of renewables are now very competitive; both financial institutions and RE organizations will tell you this. The costs are declining as we speak, with outputs increasing for all RE technology sources out there. We just need a paradigm shift, with you leading us, the public and private sector, as well as all the appropriate agencies and financial institutions in this country, to buy our 1-way ticket to our destination: 100% renewable energy.
We are positive that our RE investments now will find its cost-benefit value in the next few years. We as a Filipino people do not cherish the negative brand of the Philippines as having the most expensive electricity price in the world. This is our chance to change that.
Yes, our population has increased tremendously. But through policy measures in energy efficiency and conservation across sectors (including industry, agriculture, waste management, land-use practices, transport, and consumer products) and the application of new technologies to combined energy use, we can successfully cap the corresponding increase in energy consumption of a growing population.
We know we can do it, as a nation. We just need to know you are leading us to that path. We plead with you to fast-track the many RE projects that are waiting in line to be approved, stalled by certain powerful forces. We beg of you, Mr. President, to be wary of the dictates of the fossil fuel industry in this country, who have no regard for the future of the world’s climate and its dire effects on the Philippines. This is only the beginning, if we don’t do our part to reduce global emissions now.
We believe in you, as much as we believe in this country. Please, lead us to a better Philippines, and we shall follow.
Why is this important?
The Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change. Three of the top 10 vulnerable Asian cities to sea-level rise are in the Philippines (http://www.cgdev.org/files/1422836_file_Future_Storm_Surge_Disasters_FINAL.pdf), and in 2011, the country had the highest mortality rates in climate-related disasters in the whole world (http://germanwatch.org/fr/download/7170.pdf).
It is widely known that the global energy sector, which has widely depended upon highly polluting sources including coal, has been largely responsible for carbon emissions and human-made climate change. While highly industrialized nations have contributed to the bulk of emissions, developing countries such as the Philippines are the most impacted. At the local level, dirty energy sources such as coal-fired power plants are responsible for causing high levels of pollution and consuming large amounts of natural resources in the communities where they are located, causing health and environmental problems. It is imperative that we stop relying on dirty energy and begin looking at clean energy sources for the country's energy needs.
During his campaign three years ago, President Aquino boldly declared his commitment to protect the environment and promote renewable energy sources. However, after completing half of his term, the reality does not mirror his promises.
* From his Social Contract with the Filipino People: President Aquino promised to go "from a government obsessed with exploiting the country for immediate gains to the detriment of its environment to a government that will encourage sustainable use of resources to benefit the present and future generations." http://www.gov.ph/about/gov/exec/bsaiii/platform-of-government/
* From a press released issued by his office on 21 April 2010: "Through strict enforcement of existing environmental laws like the Clean Air, Water, and Solid Waste Acts, coupled with sound mechanisms to ensure compliance, an Aquino administration believes that the Philippines can become more climate-change adaptive." http://www.senate.gov.ph/press_release/2010/0421_aquino2.asp
* From his speech at the launch of the National Renewable Energy Program: "We want to pave the way for the maturity of our renewable energy sources such that we can provide predictable, affordable, and fair electricity pricing for each and every Filipino." http://www.gov.ph/2011/06/14/speech-of-president-aquino-at-the-launch-of-the-national-renewable-energy-program-june-14-2011/
* The Department of Energy (DOE) "has approved at least 16 coal projects nationwide...that far exceeds the aggregate number of coal projects approved by previous administrations." http://www.visayandailystar.com/2012/July/23/people.htm
* These coal-fired power plant projects were approved with the full knowledge that power generation, the majority of which comes from highly polluting energy sources including coal and petroleum, contributes 41.8% of total greenhouse gas emissions in the Philippines. http://www2.doe.gov.ph/statistics/PhilippineEnergySituationer.htm
* In spite of President Aquino's public commitment to promoting renewable energy, the DOE "has awarded 313 renewable energy service contracts but to this day, not one has been developed." http://opinion.inquirer.net/39652/aquinos-moral-imperative
At his State of the Nation Address on 22 July 2013, Pres. Aquino demonstrated his support of dirty energy and lack of understanding of renewable energy.
"We also want more power plants built in other parts of the Philippines...The [coal-fired power] plant in Redondo, Zambales, is a good example. A TRO was issued against the plant because of the argument that renewable energy is better. Did they happen to mention that renewable energy is also more expensive—from the cost of building the plants to the eventual price of energy? Did they mention that it cannot provide the baseload—the capacity required to make sure brownouts do not occur?" (http://www.gov.ph/2013/07/22/english-benigno-s-aquino-iii-fourth-state-of-the-nation-address-july-22-2013/)
We know that 100% renewable energy is possible. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=a-path-to-sustainable-energy-by-2030
We want to let Pres. Aquino know there are scientifically sound solutions to bring 100% clean, indigenous, and nationalized energy to the Philippines.
* Complementary RE mix
* Energy storage facilities and smart grids (http://www.energyforall.info/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Workshop-on-Energy-Storage-Guide-to-Presentations.pdf)
* Policy measures in energy efficiency and conservation
* Applying new technologies to combined energy use
We want Pres. Aquino to use these solutions to help avert the climate crisis in the Philippines and the world.