THREE presidential candidates on Sunday laid down their plans on expanding the country’s use of renewable energy sources to help mitigate the global climate crisis, but an environmental advocacy group pointed out the need for aspiring future leaders to be more well-versed with the different options and transition issues.
During the second presidential debate of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Vice-President Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo said she plans on using more liquefied natural gas and stressed the need for the country to be carbon-neutral.
“It is really clear that we need to be carbon-neutral, so we need to prepare how to transition from being fossil fuel-dependent,” said Ms. Robredo. “What the experts suggest is using liquefied natural gas.”
She noted that the country should be carbon-neutral by 2050.
Department of Energy data show that in 2020, the country’s power mix consisted of 57% coal-fired, 21% renewable energy, 19% natural gas, and 2% oil-based.
The Philippines’ transition plan has set a target of a more balanced energy mix by 2040 with 50% from green energy.
Labor Leader Leodegario “Ka Leody” de Guzman also expressed his stance of doing away with coal-fired power plants and noted that there is already a law for green energy adoption.
The Renewable Energy Act of 2008 aims to accelerate the exploration and development of different renewable energy sources such as solar, hydro, wind, and geothermal.
Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko” M. Domagoso, for his part, put focus on solar energy.
“I will adapt on what Germany and Netherlands is doing right now: agrivoltaic system,” Mr. Domagoso said, referring to the combined use of land areas for agricultural production and power generation.
“This is adaptable within the geography of our country because we are a tropical country. We have so much sun and we can harness the power of the sun to produce energy.”
Greenpeace, an independent environmental group, commended Comelec for including climate issues on the debate agenda.
Greenpeace Campaigner Khevin Yu said “some of the answers last night showed us that our future leaders still have misconceptions on what a genuine renewable energy transition looks like.”
In a statement released Monday, Mr. Yu said, “Now that the gates of electoral discourse have opened up to environmental issues and renewable energy, it is our future leaders’ responsibility to study and make informed decisions in addressing the climate crisis.”
Meanwhile, Election Commissioner George Erwin M. Garcia said the second presidential debate on Sunday showed improvements from the first held last month.
“This debate really showed the capabilities and qualifications of each candidate,” he said during a Laging Handa briefing on Monday. “Their positions and platforms were more clearly expressed.”
The presidential debate was held at the Sofitel Harbor Garden Tent in Pasay City. There was no live audience except for the companions of the candidates and members of the media.
During the debate, candidates were asked a general question per segment and in each succeeding portion, the candidates were divided into groups of three to debate on a topic.
Mr. Garcia noted that the next Comelec-organized debate on April 23 will be in town-hall format, which will allow ordinary citizens to directly ask candidates questions.
He also reiterated that Comelec may push for Congress to pass a law making the presidential debates mandatory in the next elections.
In the first two debates, nine of the 10 presidential candidates participated. The late dictator’s son and namesake Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos was the only absentee on both events. — John Victor D. Ordoñez with reports from Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Alyssa Nicole O. Tan, and Jaspearl Emerald G. Tan