By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
The Philippines, along with other countries in South and Southeast Asia can transition to renewable energy to fuel economic growth, boost sustainable development and achieve energy security, while avoiding life-threatening pollution and environmental degradation, according to a new report.
The country’s “increasing reliance on fossil fuel imports comes at a significant cost—3.5 percent of the country’s GDP (gross domestic product) or US$11 billion in 2017 were spent on fuel imports,” according to the international research group Climate Analytics, which published the report during the United Nations climate talks in Germany last Thursday.
“The Philippines could benefit from reducing external costs from air pollution with annual average (outdoor) air pollution cost savings in 2025 amounting to about US$1.1 billion,” it added.
The report also cited studies stating that covering even just 1.5 percent of the Philippines’ territory with solar installations would allow the generation of 792 terawatt hours of electricity, equivalent to 10 times the country’s total electricity generation in 2016.
“This report confirms that shifting from coal and diesel to renewables can provide not only more affordable and more reliable energy but also lead to more jobs and savings,” said Francis Dela Cruz, partnerships and advocacy advisor of the international policy group Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities.
It reduces risks brought about by the imminent stranding of coal plant assets and contributes global benefits by helping reduce harm brought about by climate change, he added.
“Our government must take developed countries to task for their failure to provide leadership on climate action, but it must also walk the talk on renewable energy and energy efficiency. With a greater sense of urgency, Philippine economic managers can and should bake into our long-term development plans the country’s climate vulnerabilities as well as our wealth of clean energy sources,” he also said.