Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi said “nothing has changed” as he declared and reaffirmed the country’s commitment to helping the worldwide effort to progressively transition from coal to clean electricity, one of the primary problems addressed at the current COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

On Friday, November 5, the Philippines joined more than 40 countries at COP26 that have committed to shifting away from the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel. However, the world’s largest emitters like China, the US, and India were absent from the deal.

Earlier, in a letter to Alastair Totty, Charge d’ Affairs of the British Embassy dated 03 November 2021, Cusi welcomed the request of the former for DOE’s support to the Global Coal to Clean Power Transition Statement slated for launching during the Energy Transition Council Ministerial meeting in COP26.

Cusi said the DOE would support the following declarations in the said Statement:

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a. We commit to working together to make clean power the most affordable and accessible option globally, with ensuing economic and health benefits as we build back better from the COVID pandemic;

b. We commit to the following actions to drive this global transition forward, and we encourage others to make similar commitments:

1. To rapidly scale up deployment of clean power generation and energy efficiency measures in our economies, and to support other countries to do the same, recognizing the leadership shown by countries making ambitious commitments, including through the Energy Transition Council.

2. To rapidly scale up technologies and policies in this decade.

3. To strengthen our domestic and international efforts to provide a robust framework of financial, technical, and social support to affected workers

c. We recognize that while significant progress has been made to realize our shared vision, our task is not yet complete, and we call on others to join us as we redouble our effort to accelerate the global energy transition over the coming years.

However, Cusi reiterated the DOE’s call for “climate justice,” noting that the Philippines is not a major emitter of greenhouse gases but bears the worsening impacts of climate change.

“Likewise, we wish to emphasize that energy security is foremost because our energy transition comes as a means to improve the lives of our people and our country’s economic development,” Cusi said.

The PH delegation eventually endorsed only clauses one and parts two and four of the Statement.

DOE Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella explained that the agency does not immediately commit to anything that does not fall into the strategies under the Philippine Energy Plan.

“We cannot behave like developed economies since we are a developing country. Nonetheless, we remain committed to a gradual transition to renewable energy. The immediate transition will entail additional cost so we must strike a healthy balance in protecting our consumers and our economy and our quest for a cleaner environment,” Cusi said.

Prior to the COP26 meeting, Fuentebella underscored during the G77 and China meet the need to accelerate the mobilization and provision of funds to assist the most climate-vulnerable countries in climate adaptation and mitigation.

In his intervention, Fuentebella shared the call of the Philippines to mobilize the funds for climate change engagements to achieve the desired results.

“We stated that every dollar or every peso spent should be quantified, as well as its impact towards our common goal, and reported to the people of the receiving country and the people of the participating country for full transparency,” Fuentebella said.

The PH delegation to COP26 noted that although Western economies failed to meet their financing pledge to climate-vulnerable countries, the Philippines moved with urgency in implementing climate mitigation and adaptation initiatives.

On Thursday (04 November), the Climate Investment Funds (CIF) announced that the Philippines, India, and Indonesia will join South Africa as the first recipients of a multibillion-dollar pilot program aimed at accelerating their transition from coal power to clean energy.

Signatories of the COP26 agreement agreed to phase out coal-fueled power generation in the 2030s for richer countries, and the 2040s for poorer nations.

Last year, the Philippines declared a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants. In its updated Energy Plan 2020-2040, the DOE seeks to make renewable energy account for 35 percent of the Philippine energy mix by 2030 and 50 percent by 2040.

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