Press Release
June 6, 2017

Opening Statement of Senator Loren Legarda Asia Clean Energy Forum (ACEF) on Good and Decent Jobs, Skills, and Entrepreneurship for a Just Energy Transition
6 June 2017 | Asian Development Bank, Mandaluyong City

Growth is difficult to imagine without energy; and energy that does not take into consideration the needs of future generations can only destroy and not build. Development, progress, and quality of life cannot be the exclusive domain of a few.

In November last year, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change entered into force with the goal to limit global temperature rise within the century to well below 2 degrees Celsius and possibly not more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The Philippines has ratified the Paris Agreement and we have committed to reduce GHG emissions by 70% by year 2030 from the business as usual scenario from energy, transport, waste, industry and forestry. We may not be a major emitter of carbon dioxide, but that does not mean we have no obligation to promote environmental sustainability.

We are already taking concrete steps to address our vulnerability, adapt to the impacts of extreme weather events, and gradually transition to a low-carbon economy.

In the national government's budget for this year, about 210 billion pesos (or US$4.2 billion) of the 3.350 trillion pesos total budget is allocated for climate-resilient programs. It is still a small percentage but it is a most welcome development.

In our own efforts, as well as through international support, we are shifting to clean energy. We are doing this gradually because as a developing nation, we aim to strike a delicate balance between meeting our energy demands and sustainability.

We have a Renewable Energy Law that provides for the full development and use of RE in the country. It is said that we have one of the best RE laws in the world, and we adopted it long before other countries adopted their own.

The National Renewable Energy Program has set out aggressive targets on renewable energy development from 2011-2030, aiming to increase RE capacity to 15,304 megawatts by the year 2030.

There have been challenges, however, in our efforts to fast track the development of our renewable energy resources more aggressively. The Climate Change Commission has started the review of all existing energy policies to identify loopholes and recommend the necessary interventions.

If we look at countries with best practices, their transition to clean energy has been supported by an environment where clean energy technologies do not face unfair disadvantages compared to conventional energy sources.

Renewable energy needs to be backed up by an effective energy efficiency policy. In the Senate, I have filed a measure that will put in place an energy efficiency policy that will set in motion the country's transition into clean and efficient energy.

This measure will incentivize the shift to energy efficient technologies and compel government to develop and impose energy efficiency standards and energy labeling requirements to guide our consumers. It will also ensure a supply of technically and financially capable entities that can assist in the delivery of energy efficiency related projects, among others.

It is vital that strong political and regulatory support is in place to ensure the benefits and impacts of energy transition.

We have a new law that grants special tax deductions and duty-free importation of capital equipment for companies that will help create a green economy for the country.

Under the Philippine Green Jobs Act which I co-authored, companies that create green jobs or employment that contributes to preserving or restoring the quality of the environment, can avail of tax incentives and duty-free importation of equipment used in the promotion of green jobs of the business enterprise.

While there is no single job that promises unfettered security, we need to appreciate how jobs in the clean energy sector have grown significantly over the past years. Employment in green energy grew 5 percent in 2015, to 8.1 million jobs, while 350,000 oil workers lost their jobs the same year primarily due to the slump in oil prices.[1]

IRENA estimates that if nations follow through on the climate pledges made in COP21, jobs in renewable energy will triple to 24 million by 2030.

For COP23, focus should be about progressing work on the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement.

Ensuring universal access to affordable electricity by 2030 means investing in clean energy sources. For many developing and least developed economies, accessing technologies for clean energy will be difficult without financing options and capacity building.

COP23 should focus on how we can ramp up climate action, including the delivery of climate financing commitments. It should also be about building greater resilience for all economies and communities to the impacts of climate change.

Growth is difficult to imagine without energy; and energy that does not take into consideration the needs of future generations can only destroy and not build. Development, progress, and quality of life cannot be the exclusive domain of a few.

Quality of life comes with a price tag--not necessarily beyond our reach. Building liveable cities and communities requires good planning. More importantly, it requires a genuine commitment to the ultimate goal of putting the Earth's and our people's survival foremost over all other concerns.

The climate crisis presents the opportunity to promote green growth for the sake of humanity and the only planet we call home. We must take hold of that opportunity so that future generations would not suffer the irreversible consequences if we chose inaction.

Thank you.


[1] Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual Review 2016, IRENA.

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