Stakeholders from the public, private, and industry sectors were gathered in a policy forum organized by the National Academy of Science and Technology, Philippines (NAST PHL) on February 2, 2017 at Hotel Jen Manila.

Driven towards a low-carbon economy for the Philippines, the forum reassessed the COP21 commitment of the Philippine government, validated the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) target sunder the COP21 Paris Agreement, and determined the country’s pathway to growth under a low-carbon strategy.

National Scientist (NS) Mercedes B. Concepcion mentioned during her welcome remarks that the Philippines is among the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change and that the changing climate undoubtedly impedes the Philippines’ economic development.

The Philippines’ commitment on the 21st Conference of theParties (COP21) of reducing its greenhouse gas emission by 70% by 2030 has sparked controversy considering its performance as one of the lowest carbon-dioxide emitting countries in the world.

Dr. Ely Anthony Rosales Ouano, Outstanding Young Scientist (OYS) 1980 and former principal environment specialist at the Asian Development Bank, presented an analysis of the COP21 and the Philippines’ INDC Commitment. He delivered a brief background of various frameworks were discussed: the Rio Development of 1992 on Environment and Development, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement; and the NDC of both developed and developing countries.

“The Philippines’ INDC is very similar to developed countries,” said Dr. Ouano. This assumption, as he expounded, implies that the Philippines has to behave and will have to expect the responsibilities of a developed country; leading to an increase in cost of electricity generation by Php 1.20 per kilo Watts per hour and gasoline/diesel fuel by Php 2.00 per liter in order to pay for the carbon dioxide emissions.

The socio-economic implications of the COP21 were discussed by Dr. Sarah Lynne Daway, assistant professor at the School of Economics, University of the Philippines Diliman. In an effort to contextualization the discussions revolving the Philippines’ INDC commitment, she presented a study on carbon footprint, inclusive growth and the fuel mix debate in the Philippines, which is co-authored by Dr. Geoffrey Ducanes, Dr. Majah-Leah Rabago, and NS Raul Fabella.

It was reiterated that the Philippines has a very small carbon footprint even among countries of a similar level of development. “The Philippines is quite ‘blameless in stratosphere’ [in terms of carbon emission],” Dr. Daway stated. It was also revealed that manufacturing growth is the key to a more inclusive growth and that carbon emissions and lower energy prices are necessary for this growth.

The data presented show that although the manufacturing sector has the highest average electricity consumption, its average carbon emission is relatively low compared to that of the transportation sector.

Dr. Jose Bienvenido Manuel Biona, OYS 2011, consultant at the Clean Air Asia, and director at the Center for Engineering and Sustainable Development Research at De La Salle University (DLSU). Transport, Energy Use, and GHG Emissions, projections, and some mitigation potential projections were presented.

Since the transportation sector is the biggest energy-consuming sector in the country accounting for 34% total energy consumed. He emphasized that Philippine transport mitigation studies exist but mostly focused on road and rarely considered market behavior, interactions among interventions within the transport sector and other sectors such as power and industry sectors, and land use planning.

It is therefore suggested that existing cost and benefit factors be reviewed, a socio-economic cost-benefit analysis be done, and a more comprehensive Philippine transport mitigation potential modelling in coherence with other sectors be developed and established.

Mapping a Low-Carbon Future has been presented by Dr. Raymond Tan, OYS 2004 and professor at the Center for Engineering and Sustainable Development Research, DLSU. He presented the preliminary results using a Fractional Programming Input-Output Model, which suggests multiple pathways to reduce carbon intensity per unit GDP including shifts in economic structure, increase in energy efficiency, use of low-carbon energy options, and decarbonize transport sector.

Dr. Tan suggests that FPIO modelling results should be integrated within a broader decision framework that considers sustainability dimensions and the development of a high-resolution FPIO model incorporating trade effects is essential for a more nuanced analysis of future policy options.

A representative from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Val Roque, enlightened the audience regarding the ratification process and its status as of date. It was revealed that the Instrument of Accession is already for signature of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

Mr. Roque then encouraged the Academy to be involved in the readings pertaining to the COP21 and emphasized that adaptation should help in the development of the NDC, which should be aligned with the Philippine Development Plan and Ambisyon 2040.

The proceedings of the forum will be forwarded to the Climate Change Commission, the National Economic Development Agency, and Departments of Energy, Environment and Natural Resources, among others. | Ana Loren B. Durana