The energy sector is undeniably a significant contributor to climate change, which underscores why industry players – government, investors and consumers, should all act collectively, decisively and quickly to switch to low carbon options. This was the main point raised by Richard Tantoco, president and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of geothermal leader Energy Development Corporation (EDC), at the 1st Philippine Environment Summit.
Tantoco highlighted the fact that notwithstanding the seeming lull offered by cheaper electricity prices, countries that have depended on coal plants as their main source of electricity have learned that such reliance can ultimately be very costly. “On an ex-plant basis, coal may readily appear to be the cheaper option – especially with the recent crash in global coal prices – but what other countries may have saved in electricity prices by taking the fast and cheaper route, is quickly being eroded by the mounting social and environmental costs that they did not foresee or simply chose to ignore. The truth is coal has costly externalities, way beyond the ex-plant price, and these have not been priced-in to the illusory ‘least cost’ equation.”
Of the externalities, Tantoco cited a study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the environmental and health costs not included in the price of fossil fuels like coal which amounted to $5.3 trillion dollars for 2015 alone or about $10 million per minute. He also cited figures from the World Health Organization (WHO) on diseases and premature deaths that can be traced to outdoor air pollution caused largely by burning coal.
In terms of disasters, the Philippines and 19 other countries comprising the V20 or nations most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, face an average of around 50,000 climate change related deaths per year. The number is expected to rise exponentially by 2030 and economically, the Philippines faces escalating annual losses of at least 2.5% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) potential per year, about Php360 billion or Php150 thousand per person. ”The phenomenon that is climate change has never been territorial. It does not matter how much or how little carbon we emit today as a country relative to others — what should really matter is that the whole world recognizes that the Philippines will always be one of the hardest hit by the adverse impact of climate change, year after year. That as a country with limited resources, our capacity to respond to emergencies, disasters and calamities has proven to be clearly inadequate. We cannot continue to live with this fact unaffected, and we have to make our choices and set policies sooner than later to stop this self-inflicted harm on both a national and global scale,” Tantoco added.
Tantoco said that the Philippine government’s COP 21 commitments, including that of undertaking GHG (CO2e) emissions reduction of about 70% by 2030 is a critical step in the right direction, as he called on all sectors to rally behind the government to honor and be accountable for such commitments. Citing worldwide trends towards low carbon and sustainable technologies, he emphasized that the switch to renewable or cleaner technologies, while difficult, is not impossible and should be done now.
“We have a golden opportunity to learn from the mistakes of other countries whose over reliance on coal is now costing them trillions of dollars in externalities. I certainly hope that we do not have to learn the lessons from the mistakes that we will knowingly commit moving forward because to do so would make our future generations suffer the consequences of going the ‘fake cheap’ route. Rather, we should see this as an opportunity to take the time to take up cleaner and more efficient technologies that manage environmental, health and social impacts better,” Tantoco stressed.
The Energy Development Corporation (EDC) is a pioneer in generating 100% clean, renewable, and reliable power as an electricity supplier in the Philippines for over 40 years. With power plants all over Visayas and Mindanao, the company is one of the biggest producers of geothermal energy in Asia and is expanding its reach in the international market, allowing it to offer customers affordable energy rates. EDC also strives to provide the best customer service it can to all its clients by having helpful salespeople and easy to understand contracts. Because of all of this, it is poised to become the premier supplier of electricity for the Philippines’ Green Energy Option Program. EDC takes its mission as a renewable energy provider seriously and goes beyond sustainability by investing in programs that enhance the environment and empower its partner communities, thereby fostering regenerative development. The company has also been working toward being carbon-neutral by improving its energy efficiency, as well as implementing various greening projects to ensure that its mission to provide future generations with a better life remains intact.