In April 2021, the Philippines declared its commitment to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 75% within the current decade (2020-2030) compared to a business-as-usual scenario, as stipulated under its first Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to the Paris Agreement. This is anchored on conditionality, where the country would require means of implementation provided by developed countries to achieve this target. It is important for the Philippines, one of the most vulnerable countries to anthropogenic climate change, to avoid depending on pollutive energy sources that cause said crises within existing capacities and resources.
However, there is a notable lack of a commitment to a net-zero emissions target, even an aspirational or conditional one. As the nation plans to industrialize, regulating its GHG emissions becomes even more critical. A net-zero pledge would not only send a stronger political signal to the global community of the Philippines’ commitment to addressing the climate crisis, but may also enable easier access to means of implementation, investments, and other means of foreign support. However, the country must not be expected to achieve net-zero at the same rate as developed countries do, aligned with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.
These targets can only be achieved through the implementation of a just energy transition (JET) from the current heavy dependence on fossil fuels towards an economy and society powered predominantly by renewable energy (RE). A report by Climate Analytics indicates that for the country to have a development pathway compatible with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, it needs to have an RE fleet that comprises 80-83% of its energy mix by 2030, which is way above the 35% target under the current Philippine Energy Plan.
However, there exists significant challenges in executing JET in the Philippines. Among these are a lack of public awareness on RE at the local level, a divide on how to engage in discussions related to JET and decarbonization outside the green lens, and difficulties in ensuring meaningful inclusivity in developing policies and programs that strengthen energy democracy and justice in the country. Without addressing these issues, Filipinos would remain subjected to expensive electricity bills and constant challenges associated with adequate energy supply and demand.
In order to address this, Oxfam launched the Asia Network for People’s Energy (ANPE), a collaborative platform for learning and collaboration on JET within the Philippines, along with Vietnam and Indonesia, specifically on collective learning on building fair, just and resilient economic pathways. Working with a wide range of stakeholders is key to ensuring both the success of JET and net-zero-related campaigns in the Philippines and shaping the regional agenda and activities of the ANPE.
Among these stakeholders is Aksyon Klima Pilipinas, the country’s largest civil society network for climate action. It advocates for climate change adaptation, mitigation, loss and damage action, finance, and technology transfer at the local, national, and global levels through science-based, urgent, inclusive, and equitable decision-making processes anchored on upholding human rights and social justice.