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Full liberalization of RE market sought

Windmills are seen in Pililia, Teresa, Rizal province on April 25. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE INCOMING Marcos administration should consider the full liberalization of the renewable energy (RE) sector as part of the government’s efforts on climate change mitigation, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick T. Chua said on Monday.

“We are trying to fully liberalize all renewable energies; tidal, solar, and wind. In fact, the Economic Development Cluster has a resolution pushing for that. That will, I think, create a better balance between the dirty sources of energy and the cleaner ones,” he said at a briefing on Monday.

Energy officials previously said new laws may be needed to relax the foreign ownership restrictions for wind and solar projects.

In 2020, the power generation mix in the Philippines was 57% from coal-fired facilities, 21% from renewable energy, 19% from natural gas, and 2% from oil.

Mr. Chua, who steps down from his post on June 30, also expressed support for the new law aimed at regulating and developing the country’s electric vehicle (EV) industry.

“(The) electric vehicle law which will help us shift to cleaner electric vehicles rather than gasoline or diesel ones,” the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) director-general said.

Mr. Chua also backed the imposition of a tax on single-use plastics.

The Department of Finance (DoF) had proposed a P20 excise tax per kilogram of single-use plastics under package 1 of the fiscal consolidation plan, which is aimed at generating fresh revenues amid the country’s record-high debt.

During the same briefing, NEDA Undersecretary of the Regional Development Group Mercedita A. Sombilla presented recommendations to accelerate climate action, such as ensuring new programs and policies “support climate-resilient and low-carbon development,” and boost awareness on climate change in local communities.

She also proposed scaling up mobilization of climate finance and strengthening institutional capacity to track these climate finance flows.

“The tight fiscal space does not preclude the government from implementing climate change adaptation and mitigation actions,” Ms. Sombilla said.

“While we’ve continued to make use of government’s limited resources to fund development projects including infrastructure, social protection, and agriculture, we can already make adjustments as early as the design phase to make the projects more climate and disaster resilient without incurring significant additional economic costs due to avoided losses and damage.”

Ms. Sombilla said the government can also maximize the benefits of these projects by reducing or eliminating any greenhouse gas emissions.

Under the Paris Agreement, the Philippines committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75% by 2030.

The Philippines is ranked fourth most affected by impacts of climate-related extreme weather events, according to the 2021 Climate Risk Index.

“There are many things that do not require money, but a change of behavior and a better understanding of the consequences of inaction,” Mr. Chua said.

Climate change and smart infrastructure are expected to be part of the next Philippine Development Plan, which will be crafted under the next Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan.

“Secretary Balisacan really recognized this because he has been alluding to including climate change as a particular challenge in all the development activities that we will be doing,” Ms. Sombilla said.

NEDA’s climate change priorities also include helping local government units develop climate-risk informed local land use and development plans, and pushing for the passage of the National Land Use Act. — Diego Gabriel C. Robles

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