Philippines at Crossroads: Paris Pledge Threatens to Compromise Energy Security

by Vijay Jayaraj

The Philippines was one of the first countries to pull out of the international Paris climate agreement. However, it rejoined soon after and is now torn between its need for energy from coal and appeasing Western powers.

Philippines’s Paris Timeline: Yes, No, Yes

The Philippines joined the Paris agreement in 2015. Manila even submitted it’s Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), a document that outlined its plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions and transition to renewable energy.

However, in July 2016, President Rodrigo Duterte said that the Philippines would not honor the climate deal. He reasoned that the agreement was dictatorial and would slow his poor country’s economic growth.

Duterte had been a vocal critic of the Paris agreement, labelling the UN as hypocrites because the agreement requires poor countries to make emission reductions while rich countries enjoy economic success built on past use fuels that generated the same emissions.

But Duterte surprised everyone by recommitting to the Paris agreement in 2017, after his Senate voted to ratify it.

Paris Agreement: Not for a Young and Booming Philippine Economy

The Philippines has been slow to implement its emission reduction plans since ratifying the agreement. But it has made critical decisions recently to halt emissions. Those decisions pose a serious threat to its economic ambitions.

In November 2020, the Philippines announced that it would no longer give approval for new coal plants. If the country sticks to this policy, it will cause considerable disruption to its energy sector. But not during the next 10 years. Here’s why

The moratorium on new coal plants will not affect plans submitted before November 2020. The government has already approved 22 new coal plants, and those will come online during the next 10 years.

Department of Energy continued to issue accreditations for coal traders and coal end-users even as the moratorium came into effect. Currently, there are around 306 registered coal end-users with 10-year permits. Some permits begin in January. This means that Manila’s dependency on coal will increase, not decrease, in the coming decade.

Philippines coal imports have nearly tripled in the last ten years, and energy generated from coal doubled between 2011 and 2018. Coal currently accounts for half of the country’s energy mix and is projected to be around 53 percent by 2030.

Though the economy will be coal-dependent for the foreseeable future, and coal end-users have been approved to continue coal use, a string of pro-renewable policies and mandatory laws for natural gas transition threaten the country’s long-term energy security and energy affordability.

Benjamin Diokno, an economist and Governor of the Central Bank of Philippines, has warned that a transition away from coal will involve financial risks. Lawrence Fernandez, Vice-President of The Manila Electric Company,  an electric power distribution company, says, “Electricity consumers have been saddled for years by various subsidies and mandates to support (a) renewable energy (RE) via Feed-in Tariff Allowance and Renewable Portfolio Standards, (b) remote area electrification via Universal Charge Missionary Electrification, (c) off-grid RE development via RE Cash Incentive, and, (d) Malampaya gas via take-or-pay provision.”

Bienvenido Oplas Jr, a Fellow of South East Asia Network for Development, warns, “These endless attacks to ease out or kill coal power in the Philippines and replace it with more intermittent RE and natural gas which is also fossil fuel, are inconsistent with global energy realities.”

But the country’s Energy Secretary, Alfonso Cusi, is adamant on the transition to clean energy. He insists that the moratorium on coal plants was a necessary step to curb global warming. The only issue where the current administration in the Philippines disagrees with the European powers is the idea of a carbon tax. In March 2021, Cusi said, “Burdening our generation with a carbon tax will make the Philippines uncompetitive. So, we’re not ready for a carbon tax.”

Maybe it is time the administration applied the same principle to other aspects of the energy sector, like undependable and unaffordable green energy. Renewables will make the Philippines uncompetitive. Even the most developed economies are not ready to embrace a renewable-dominated energy grid, and the Philippines definitely is even less so. Its lawmakers must wake up to this reality.

The Philippines must retract the moratorium on new coal plants and enact laws that enhance the production, import, and use of coal as a fuel, a strategy that will help its economy grow by leaps and bounds in the next two decades.

Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), is a Research Contributor for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation and resides in Bengaluru, India.

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April 23, 2021 2:08 pm

Buy the coal from Australia and Indonesia–they have it. They can also buy low quality coal from China in a game of follow the lump of coal in the shell game.

Bryan A
Reply to  ResourceGuy
April 24, 2021 10:09 am

Apparently the Philippines changes their thoughts on energy production as often as, and in tune with, the U.S. changing Ppresidents to reflect our policies.
2015 Obama U.S. in Philippines in.
2016 Trump U.S. out Philippines out
2021 Biden U.S. back in Philippines back in

Last edited 1 year ago by Bryan A
AGW is Not Science
April 23, 2021 2:22 pm

When they build a bunch of “renewables,” the country will be instantly reduced to third world status when the first typhoon hits. They should ask Puerto Rico how the wind turbines and solar panels fared when Maria visited.

Reply to  AGW is Not Science
April 24, 2021 4:17 am

unles youre in Cebu or a posh resort it IS 3rd world and power water n food are dodgy medicines are risky or non existant for the majority as well

April 23, 2021 2:29 pm

Cheap electricity powered by coal is critical in a country where about 10 million people have no electricity in their home and about 50 million people don’t have proper access to safe drinking water and sanitation.
How can RE be even a discussion point when many rural schools don’t even have flushing toilets?

Izaak Walton
Reply to  Waza
April 23, 2021 9:51 pm

Roof top solar is the quickest and cheapest way to get power to rural communities. It would take years to buy a coal powered power station and even longer to build the infrastructure necessary to supply the electricity. In contrast you could put solar panels and a battery in the back of a ute and set them up tomorrow.

And yes I know the amount of power wouldn’t be the same but if you want enough to supply safe drinking water, sanitation and LED lights at night it is the quickest and cheapest solution for remote areas.

Reply to  Izaak Walton
April 23, 2021 10:50 pm

you are so kind allowing someone having an LED light at night.
What about reliable water, sewer and electricity for hospitals, schools and factories?

Izaak Walton
Reply to  Waza
April 23, 2021 11:22 pm

My point is that the quickest and cheapest way to supply some electricity to remote villages that aren’t connected to the grid is rooftop solar. It is a long way from being an ideal solution but it can be delivered in weeks rather than years. Especially if you consider that in the Philippines there are over 7000 islands which you would need to either connect via submarine cables to remote coal fired power stations or build one for each island. Compare the cost of doing that with installing rooftoop solar and see which makes more sense.

And for many people and especially women have LED lights at night make a huge difference in terms of safety and for kids being able to do homework at night makes all the difference.

Reply to  Izaak Walton
April 23, 2021 11:34 pm

Your comment is a good example of where ignorance is directly linked to racism.

Reply to  Izaak Walton
April 23, 2021 11:43 pm

My children’s elementary school in Melbourne has central heating, central air conditioning, reticulated water and sewer, computers in each classroom and even electric whiteboards.
Additionally, it has rainwater tanks and solar panels for virtual signalling.
My nephews elementary school in northern Philippines has Unreliable electricity, a hand pump and septic tank.
It is totally racist for virtual signalling leftists to declare the developing world can’t have what we have.

Izaak Walton
Reply to  Waza
April 24, 2021 12:09 am

Which do you think would get your nephew electricity quicker, solar panels or coal fired power stations? My point is not that solar power is always better but that it can provide a minimal amount of power tomorrow at a relatively cheap price.

I am not trying to deny anybody anything. I am just pointing out that for many remote areas the quickest and cheapest way to get some electricity is solar power.

Reply to  Izaak Walton
April 24, 2021 3:00 am

Solar is a NONSENSE electricity supply, totally useless by itself.

And yes, your leftist comrades ARE stopping third world countries getting RELIABLE electricity..

Again, WHY are you being SO RACIST that you want to DENY third world people reliable 24/7 electricity.. ?

Its disgusting, yet you keep digging yourself in deeper and deeper..

Last edited 1 year ago by fred250
Bryan A
Reply to  Izaak Walton
April 24, 2021 10:23 am

To run a simple 3hp well pump you need to produce at least 3KW of generation hourly 24/7. Solar panels will produce peak power from 9:30-10:00 am until about 2:30 pm local time with a fast build up and drop off of production for the 1/2 hour before and after. To be able to run the well on demand 24/7 you need a battery that can store 3×24 = 72 KW of energy AND a solar system capable of creating that power from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm, the time at which solar actually works. It will take 6 times the amount of solar panels to produce the needed power And allow for Battery recharging. Just pray for no extended periods of sunless (cloudy/rainy) days or your water supply is lost as your pump seals dry out.
Reliable electrified infrastructure requires reliably sourced energy. Solar is highly weather dependant

Last edited 1 year ago by Bryan A
Reply to  Izaak Walton
April 24, 2021 7:10 am

Just so you know, rooftop solar is 2x to 20x more expensive than utility scale solar. That wide variation is due to scams, lobbyists, contracting fraud, and general ignorance of the solar market.

Bryan A
Reply to  ResourceGuy
April 24, 2021 10:28 am

That and that fact that most rooftops aren’t strong enough to support the panels and as such must be replaced at a cost of around $30,000 per average roof

Granum Salis
Reply to  Izaak Walton
April 24, 2021 8:58 pm

I can’t off-set the inevitable down votes that appear at the foot of every one of your comments, but I’ll say, as a died-in-the-wool, full-fledged AGW denier, that your comment is eminently sensible, and, having spent a good number of years in the woods without power or running water, I would consider that an LED would beat the hell out of kerosene.

As for comments gratuitously invoking racism, I’d go to CNN if that’s what I wanted.

Reply to  Granum Salis
April 25, 2021 3:41 am

So you would wish that on people who NEED reliable electricity

That is just sick !

Not everyone wants to live the life of a neanderthal.

Reply to  Izaak Walton
April 23, 2021 11:23 pm

WRONG. It has been tried, and FAILED.

People want/need RELIABLE POWER 24/7

Would YOU put up with no power for 60% or so of the day, hypocrite?

It really is an ugly sort of leftist RACISM that stops third world countries striving to achieve reliability of electricity supply.

Izaak Walton
Reply to  fred250
April 24, 2021 12:11 am

Which is preferable, waiting 10 years with no power while the infrastructure and power stations are built or getting some power today using solar panels and then in the future getting a better supply?

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Izaak Walton
April 24, 2021 2:12 am

The buyer of solar will likely have to borrow money to buy it. When a better system comes up, the buyer will have committed funds. So the power supply stagnates at less than useful. Were is the gain? Geoff S

Reply to  Izaak Walton
April 24, 2021 2:50 am


There is NOTHING you can do with it.

Can you run a refrigerator.. NO

Can you cook an evening meal.. NO

Can you study and learn after a day’s work.. NO.

Again, Izzy-a-moron….

Would YOU live with electricity for only 40% of the day..


STOP being a DISGUSTING and pathetic RACIST prat. !!

Last edited 1 year ago by fred250
Granum Salis
Reply to  fred250
April 24, 2021 9:07 pm

I don’t see any way in which your screaming histrionics are different from the public voices that I deplore and you profess also to revile.

You’re the one I find “disgusting” and “pathetic”.

Reply to  Granum Salis
April 25, 2021 3:40 am


So you support his racist ideology


That’s for you to feel shame about.

Granum Salis
Reply to  fred250
April 25, 2021 8:33 am

You seem to have successfully unstuck your caps lock. This is progress!
You haven’t yet called me an islamophobe or a transophobe. Great.
Now, we just have to hope that you don’t go and confiscate everybody’s coleman lanterns because they’re not up to first world standards.

April 23, 2021 2:42 pm

This will ensure a booming business in deep cycle batteries, battery chargers, voltage regulators, inverters, cables & metal fittings as the Philippine middle class realizes their electrical grid supply is less reliable. Those with the financial means will be automatically topping up battery banks when there is electricity at a wall socket in order to be sure can later run a fan for at least their grandparents or infant. The poor will be back sweating things out when the electrical power is down. Small scale shop keepers will stock less perishables once have lost inventory to brown outs a few times. Meanwhile, those living in the immediate area of the politically connected will find the electrical power never seems to go out & the well off will run diesel generators from their own fuel tanks. Wicked smart!

April 23, 2021 3:12 pm

The PI problem is that these devout Catholics have been fruitful and multiplied. When I was there in the early ’70’s they had less than 40M on board, and exported rice. Now they have nearly 110M mouths to feed and import rice. Their biggest export is $300/M (when they can get it) indentured servants to the mideast. I got one a swamper rig job in Saudi for $29/day and he couldn’t thank me enough.

April 23, 2021 4:36 pm

From a foreign policy perspective, given that we are moving inexorably to a multipolar world, where the United States is not the sole power, this is just crazy. If one is trying to gain allies, requiring countries to hobble their economies with renewable energy is simply counterproductive. Furthermore, unless these countries have completely inept leadership, they see everything that readers of WUWT see. So, you basically have the United States leading the world based on phony science and a phony crisis.

I don’t see anything good coming out of this at all and when finally the SHTF there will be an Emperor’s New Clothes moment of epic proportions that not even CNN and the BBC will be able to salvage.

Alan the Brit
Reply to  Anon
April 24, 2021 12:19 am

“not even CNN and the BBC will be able to salvage.”

Oh you naive fool, they will be at the very forefront of virtue signalling with, “we never were fully on board with many of the views expressed in the mainstream media & by politicians & activists, we always consulted with neutral unbiased independent sources throughout! (large Pinnochio moment).

April 23, 2021 5:11 pm

Compromising energy security is the plan all along. For the Philippines I wonder how long they will allow themselves to be strung along before they realize all the promised money and associated prosperity of the Paris agreement is nothing but vapor.

CD in Wisconsin
April 23, 2021 5:29 pm

For whatever it is worth to the Philippines, there is exploitable oil and natural gas wealth off its west coast in the South China Sea. How much of it is in their territorial waters may not be known for sure….

“According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, it is estimated that the South China Sea holds about fourteen trillion barrels of natural gas and sixteen to thirty-three billion barrels of oil in proved and probable reserves—most of which are situated along the margins of the South China Sea rather than under the long disputed islets and reefs.”

The problem here of course is that China lays claim to the South China Sea and has established military bases on man-made islands there that they have created. The International Court at The Hague in the Netherlands has already ruled in favor of the Philippines that it is supposed to have territorial sovereignty over that portion of the South China Sea that is 200 miles out from its west coast. China of course ignores the ruling.

The U.S. maintains a presence in the South China Sea to keep the shipping lanes open, but talk of the the next major war happening over the SCS continues. Whether the Philippines will ever be able to exploit the mineral wealth off its west coast remains highly dubious given the climate alarmist narrative and the continuing international dispute going on there.

April 23, 2021 5:35 pm

For the less observant, that picture screams “climate crises.” Pay no attention to the verdant foliage and aqua marine waters, extinction is right around the corner.

April 23, 2021 6:56 pm

Any old grudges with Duterte? He told “son of whore” Obama to “go to hell” which started a rocky relation with US until Trump got into office. There may be bad blood on environmental, military, humanitarian issues with ties to way back.

April 23, 2021 7:26 pm

Senate ratification. You know, that sounds like something you should do for treaties and agreements that can beggar your country rather than let one idiot sign you up for all that nonsense. Maybe we should try that.

Gary Pearse
April 23, 2021 8:05 pm

None of these negotiated or proposed restrictions on fossil fuels outside of the West is going to happen. Period. Al Gore tried to the press the Bangladesh Prime Minister not to build the coal fired plants she did build and she was firm that the economy and wellbeing of her citizens is paramount.

The country over the past 6 or seven years has enjoyed 15% annual GDP growth (World Bank data) and is a perfect example of how prosperity brings down the birth rate to Western low levels in developing countries. These countries recognize colonialism, neo or otherwise and are having none of it. Even Pakistan has 9-10% ec growth and they are coal producers.

Africa south of the Sahara averages 3+% growth today and they have in the near term (with China providing tech and loans) over 100 coal electro plants in the planning and construction phase in eleven countries outside of South Africa which is rich in coal resources and has ambitious plans. The developing world sees the magic of fossil fuels and with prosperity comes automobiles, iron and steel, cement etc.

We will see a doubling and tripling of CO2 emissions before 2050. Don’t these smart woke folk see this?

April 24, 2021 12:41 am

No chance of all those 22 coal plants coming online.

the Philippines’ Department of Energy proposed moratorium on new coal power plants could lead to 9.6GW of cancellations according to analysis by GEM. The Philippine government is as of April 2021 looking to set up a fund to acquire all coal-fired power plants in Mindanao and shut them down in a bid to make the island heavily reliant on renewable-energy resources.

Pat from kerbob
Reply to  griff
April 24, 2021 9:36 am

A very good chance
And once the alternative becomes clear the moratorium will go away too

April 24, 2021 5:01 am

The Paris Agreement is a suicide pact and only fools would join into it.

April 24, 2021 7:12 am

I and my neighbors are at personal crossroads concerning electrical power security.

The government and power companies spend a lot of money hyping “green energy” and their concern for the environment. 

Yet here I am getting ready to have a whole house generator installed that runs on natural gas. My neighbors, Steve and Betty, have also decided to get one. They, like I, have had enough! For years our electrical service has been less then reliable. In a typical year we will have about three outages. This year we have had three outages already! During the ice storm several years ago we went a week without electrical service.  

Best I can tell the reason for these outages is because we are basically at the end of the a line for the grid system we get our power from. When we lose power we can look out across the fields and see that those that live on the South side of Hwy 36 still have their lights on.  

The lines that provide our power run through a lot of trees. Only once in the 20 years I have lived here have they gone through and cut back the trees so they aren’t over hanging the lines. Right now I can see three places where tree branches are laying on the power lines. In addition the poles are old. 

I need to be sure my wife has reliable electrical power while I am on the road. And I am tired of getting what is getting to be essentially third world electrical service. There will probably come a time when I won’t be up to dragging my gasoline generator out and hooking it up and keeping it fueled. 

So they can talk about their concern for the environment all they want but it is obviously bull crap since the fact is that people will do what they have to do to maintain electrical service and if we had reliable service my neighbors and I wouldn’t be buying fossil fueled whole house generators! 

The thing is that though I say “whole house” that does not mean I will necessarily have to have a generator that can run everything all the time. My submersible well pump, water heater, and range, are all 220V and so obviously require the most power. The well pump I will want to run full time but all the others can be powered up just when needed or when their use anticipated .

April 24, 2021 7:25 am

Not ready for a carbon tax, among other things like wind and solar. Time for a San Miguel beer to celebrate common sense.

Bryan A
Reply to  Olen
April 24, 2021 10:32 am

It’s chock full of that Nasty CO2 gas dontchaknow

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