THE Responsible Energy Initiative Philippines (REI Philippines) was officially launched on January 26, 2024 on the inaugural International Day of Clean Energy.
Launching with an industry-wide case for action, REI Philippines calls for stronger collaboration across the renewable energy (RE) sector to integrate policies, practices, norms and behaviors that will allow the sector to anticipate and respond responsibly to its ecological and social impacts.
While the benefits of RE are widely acknowledged from decarbonization and expanding energy access to job creation, REI Philippines notes that emerging ecological and social impacts of the energy transition, particularly from the production and deployment of utility-scale RE, are inadequately addressed. These impacts include displacement of indigenous communities, threats to biodiversity and environmental pollution from end-of-life disposal, and could impede the country’s energy transition.
With the Philippines’ energy transition showing promise with a forward-looking policy direction, a mature developer sector, and a dynamic civil society, among other promising characteristics, this provides an opportunity for the RE sector to pioneer a shift towards business models that reduce harm, enable social justice and economic resilience, and regenerate ecosystems.
REI Philippines, a multi-year program designed as a collaborative platform, is currently led by a consortium of six leading international and Philippine-based think tanks and civil society organizations: the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC), Oxfam Pilipinas, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Philippines, Forum for the Future, the Center for Empowerment, Innovation and Training on Renewable Energy (CentRE) and the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre.
Close to 100 representatives from industry, finance, civil society and policymakers attended the launch of REI Philippines today at the Astoria Plaza Hotel in Pasig City. Hon. Senator Risa Hontiveros delivered the keynote address.
“The Philippines’ renewable energy transition is best described by a single word: potential. Driven by our abundant clean and indigenous sources, the roadmap of our efforts for energy transition has long been underway. This is supported by the significant impacts that we have seen of RE helping to ensure affordable, reliable, and secure energy for Filipinos,” said Angelo Kairos Dela Cruz, Executive Director of ICSC.
As part of the launch, the Responsible Energy Initiative Philippines: Case for Action report was also published today. The report outlines the energy transition in the Philippines, providing an overview of existing or upcoming ecological and social impacts arising from utility-scale RE production and deployment (specifically solar, floating solar, onshore and offshore wind, energy storage systems and small and mini hydro), and the existing measures and opportunities to govern, manage and mitigate these impacts.
Erika Geronimo, Oxfam Pilipinas executive director, noted the Philippine commitment to the Nationally Determined Contribution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent in 2030 aligning with the 1.5C Paris Agreement target.
"We do need to accelerate our actions given the climate crisis, but any proposed solution must take into account the views and interests of marginalized communities, who are most vulnerable to climate change impacts. A just energy transition reinforces the crucial role of civil society organizations to amplify the voices of these communities, especially of women and girls,” said Geronimo.
Sumi Dhanarajan, Managing Director (Southeast Asia), Forum for the Future, said: “The transition away from fossil fuels towards renewable energy offers a unique opportunity to create a truly responsible energy system. To achieve this, the RE sector must pay attention to mitigating any adverse impacts that could arise and make every effort to bring about not only a fast, but a just transition. There is a way to produce and deploy renewables without harming people or the planet, and the Responsible Energy Initiative aims to make this the norm."
The Philippines is the second country to launch the Responsible Energy Initiative and the first of the program in Southeast Asia, with the multi-country program first being established in India last 2021. REI Philippines is now entering its next phase, and is calling for organizations across the RE sector to take part in a unique systems-thinking, futures-led inquiry that will enable them to:
* Understand and identify where and how to intervene in the RE system, to achieve an ecologically safe and socially just transition;
* Design a future-fit and resilient RE system through long-term thinking and anticipatory governance approaches;
* Frame a shared vision and set of principles on what it means to ‘do’ renewable energy responsibly, to role-model for other actors to implement; and
* Prototype interventions with the potential to translate the principles into action. (PR)