On 6 August 2019, the British Embassy in Manila hosted the launch of a UK Government-funded research and engagement project entitled ‘Accelerating the transition to Cleaner Energy Alternatives'. The UK Ambassador to The Philippines, Daniel Pruce, and Senator Sherwin Gatchalian participated in the event.
The event gathered together representatives from the Philippine government, the private sector, industry, financial institutions, and research organisations in Manila, for a facilitated discussion on the potential for The Philippines to move towards a low-carbon future. Insights gained from the inception event will inform the development of a report to be published in early 2020, which aims to provide an evidence base for the Philippine government and other key decision-makers regarding the risks around building a fleet of new coal-fired power plants.
South East Asia is faced by extraordinary challenges both in terms of energy growth, infrastructure and climate vulnerability. With 450 million inhabitants out of 650 million living in low-elevation coastal zones, the region and its citizens are exposed to the risk of severe climate impacts. At the same time, governments in the region are seeking to meet the energy needs of their populations, with coal power generation often perceived to be the default option.
Currently, 2.5 GW of new coal power plant capacity is under construction in The Philippines, with a further 9.4 GW at various stages of the planning process, forming part of an estimated pipeline of ~80 GW across South East Asia. The World Bank has cautioned that the construction of this capacity would present a significant risk to acting on climate change in line with the Paris Agreement, while the emergence of cheaper renewable energy technologies undermines the economic case for choosing coal rather than clean energy.
This project is an example of how the Powering Past Coal Alliance is supporting countries in their transition away from coal, including through identifying options that avoid lock in to a high carbon, and potentially high cost, future. It is funded by the Knowledge, Evidence and Engagement Portfolio as part of the UK's International Climate Finance and forms part of ongoing engagement between the UK and Philippine governments and other key stakeholders in The Philippines.