What should Philippines do?

  • Resilience should not be conditional.
  • National government must see the NDC process as a means by which the modernization of the electricity sector is realized, driven by genuine competition and premised on greater reliance on flexible generation.
  • The Department of Energy should continue to update its pledge as reflected in the revision of the Philippine Energy Plan
  • The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has put forward forest protection, restoration and reforestation initiatives under adaptation but fell short of identifying their large and relatively cost-effective mitigation potential.
  • The Department of Agriculture’s efforts on adaptation were expected, with mitigation as a co-benefit. These agriculture programs have already been in place and yet continue to be conditional on external support.
  • National government (particularly DENR) must implement Clean Air Act with higher sense of urgency in keeping with new WHO air quality guidelines. Air pollution is leading environmental threat in the country and fifth leading cause of death and disability, excluding implications on COVID-19 infections.
  • Last April 2021, Swiss Re projected that GDP loss for ASEAN could reach 17% if the 2°C global warming threshold is reached, and up to 37.4% in a severe case of 3.2°C increase. On the other hand, the region would prevent GDP loss by as much as 25% if the “well below the 2°C” Paris Agreement target is met, with Indonesia and Thailand noted as among the biggest winners among emerging markets.

What you need to know about Philippines?

  • The upcoming national elections in May 2022 (executive and legislative branches) will determine sustainability and coherence of climate action in the country.
  • The Philippines’ moratorium on greenfield coal, seen to be the first in the region, was based not on international commitments but because of expensive and unreliable coal, a source of rigid baseload power supply, being unable to provide for current power needs, and therefore destabilizing the power grid. What the future needs is flexible generation and that can only be supplied by renewable energy, not coal, and not even fossil gas.
  • Duterte in UNGA (September 2021) said climate-vulnerable countries such as PH must do our fair share of climate action but developed nations, particularly the biggest emitters, must lead the way if we are to avoid breaching the 1.5 global warming threshold of the Paris Agreement.
  • In submitting the first NDC (April 2021), Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said, “The Philippines is submitting an ambitious NDC target of 75-percent reduction of GHG emissions by 2030 in the name of climate justice. The NDC will be our tool to upgrade our economy by adopting modern and low carbon technologies and approaches that would help mitigate the climate crisis and make our economy more resilient and our growth sustainable.”
  • IPCC for PH: “In the Philippines and the rest of Southeast Asia, mean air temperatures, extreme heat, heavy precipitation, floods and sea levels are projected to increase with further global warming.” (Manila Observatory)

Recent developments, threats and levers for action

Recent developments

  • All coal plants found to be stranding even without new RE policies.
  • Move to upgrade air quality standards to 2021 WHO.
  • New bicycle lane network nationwide total figure. NREP reversal of previous coal increase pathway (now at floor of 35% RE and calling for 50% RE as new 2030 floor).
  • Reboot NDC process to prioritize coherence over GHG bean counting.
  • New elections due in May 2022. Everything now is short term and on suspended animation due to election politics taking over national discourse.

Strengths

  • Dept of Finance is increasingly active on the climate front.

Opportunities

  • Huge, the unprecedented growth of support for active mobility programs nationwide, from national govt agencies, CSOs, local businesses, local government. Energy ministry recognition of the need to transition fast to flexible generation system and greater competition

Weaknesses

  • A shallow understanding of Department of Finance and often at odds with energy ministry and climate commission and economic planning. Climate Prosperity Plan consideration underway, but slow burn till a new govt is in place. Slow onset climate impacts context continues to gain traction in executive agencies and legislature. Nuclear distraction remains strong. A blind cookie-cutter approach to gas, instead of distinguishing between simple cycle and CCGT. Lack of coherence in govt climate action plan; most are sectoral and siloed, an outcome of GHG bean-counting practice since Fiji COP

Threats

  • Electoral outcome in 2022 might install Marcos or continuation of chaos under Duterte kin will pull many forces away from climate and more toward resolving confrontation with fascist elements and restoration of Marcos regime

About Climate Diplomacy Snapshots

The data is clear. Accelerated and enhanced action is needed now to build resilience and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. As they seek to address the ongoing health, economic and social impacts of COVID-19, governments should seize opportunities to invest in a recovery that will build social, economic and climate resilience on the long-term.The Climate Diplomacy Snapshots aim to provide the climate community with a clear overview of what each country should do, on climate and recovery, to pursue these joint objectives and keep the global average temperature increase to 1.5°C. Each has been prepared with the help of national experts, and will be regularly updated. The snapshots aim to support climate advocacy in the lead up to COP26, and in particular around key upcoming moments such as the Climate Ambition Summit on 12 December 2020 and midnight on 31 December 2020, when 120 countries have committed to deliver enhanced commitments.

Learn More