Greenpeace calls on Western Visayas leaders to lead the 'Energy Revolution'

Feature story - November 21, 2008
Greenpeace welcomed the declaration signed by Western Visayas governors committing to lead the region toward a 100% renewable energy target. The commitment, the first of its kind in the country, signals that Region VI is ready to lead the country's "Energy Revolution" toward a future of clean, sustainable energy to address the global problem of climate change.

Child stands outside the Greenpeace Climate Defenders Camp to oppose the coal power plant construction in Iloilo City, central Philippines June 5, 2008. World Environment Day is celebrated today highlighted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon’s statement deploring the world’s addiction to fossil fuels like coal and oil.

The declaration was signed during the Western Visayas Energy Congress in Iloilo City, ironically also host to a coal-power project. The environment group criticized Iloilo Governor Niel Tupas Sr. for continuing to cling to unsustainable and harmful coal plants.

The Energy Congress is meant to present the abundant renewable energy opportunities and technologies available to the region, with the full support of investors. It is being held several days before a scheduled presentation of Iloilo coal plant proponent, Global Business Power, a subsidiary of Metrobank, to the Western Visayas leaders.

Western Visayas Declaration on Renewable Energy for Sustainable Development

We, participants to the Western Visayas Renewable Energy Congress held at Iloilo City on 21 November 2008 commit to advocate and practice energy efficiency and substantially increase the share of renewable energy in the total energy supply of the region.

Concerned with the ever-intensifying impacts of global climate change which make islands, such as those in Western Visayas, more vulnerable to sea level rise, storm surges and extreme weather events.

Concerned with the risk of relying on dwindling fossil fuels with increasing prices and volatile supply.

Mindful of the need to increase dependable energy supply at affordable cost to sustain the economic growth of Western Visayas.

Aware of the vast potentials of Western Visayas for renewable energy and that the utilization of these resources alongside the gradual displacement of fossil fuel technologies is the key element in the strategy of reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and addressing climate related risks.

Recognizing the multiple benefits of increased energy efficiency and use of renewable energy for improving access to modern energy services, increasing job opportunities, reducing rural poverty, improving air quality and public health and ensuring energy security.

We champion Western Visayas as the country's model for renewable energy development and utilization and urgently work on the following:

• Enact policies and regulations that will optimize the use of renewable energy sources;

• Access technical and financial assistance to renewable energy programmes that will enhance technology transfer and indigenization, and capacity building to support local manufacture of renewable energy systems' components.

Toward achieving 100% renewable energy targets for the region.

"The provinces of Western Visayas are among those which have readily embraced renewable energy over coal power generation. Negros Occidental is the first Philippine province to declare a 100% renewable energy target. Antique is one of the first provinces to declare itself a coal-power free zone. With its more than twenty existing and potential sources of clean power from wind, and biomass among others, the region can lead the way in showing the rest of the country how renewable energy can become the Philippines' energy backbone," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Climate and Energy Campaigner Amalie Obusan.

A proposal is currently in place to declare Region VI as a model for renewable energy development and utilization. Greenpeace is calling on Western Visayas governors to once again show their strong political will and enact the declaration to demonstrate how local governments can take action and play a critical role in contributing to global efforts at curbing dangerous climate change. This vision, however, will not be possible as long as Iloilo province persists on the construction of harmful coal-fired power projects even as Greenpeace and local groups have shown that it is possible to augment the province's power supply from renewable energy sources.

"Renewable energy is abundant, available, and ready to be deployed. There is no lack of investors for renewables-the global market for renewable energy is increasing dramatically.  The passage of the Renewable Energy Act of 2008 recently is also expected to spur the growth of clean energy development in our country. Renewable energy in Western Visayas is waiting to be tapped. It is time for all the region's leaders, particularly Iloilo's  Governor Tupas and Mayor Treñas, as well as the national government, to put these options on the table and exclude coal power from the energy mix," said Obusan.

In a report entitled 'Energy [R]evolution: A Sustainable Philippine Energy Outlook,' released last August, Greenpeace demonstrated how renewable energy can provide as much as 57% of the Philippines' energy needs by 2030, and as much as 70% by 2050-all that is needed is the political will to transform vision into reality. The report is the first ever comprehensive energy strategy drawn up for the Philippine setting that shows clear steps on how the country's energy sector can be transformed to help mitigate the severe consequences of global climate change.

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