Think-tank: unambitious NDC fails to align with 1.5°C global target, just transition imperatives

Sustainability think-tank Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development on Wednesday raised alarm on the lack of ambition in the current draft of the Philippine Nationally Determined Contributions, a document intended to embody the country’s commitments to reduce national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adaptation efforts.

     The content of the NDC draft was presented to stakeholders in an online forum led by the Climate Change Commission (CCC) in the morning of December 23.

     “The civil society and multi-sectoral representatives present in the consultation are sure to spend their Christmases with troubled minds, as the details presented to us today completely fail to recognize just how much of an emergency the climate crisis we are in is. A 30% overall GHG emissions reduction target — only 2% of it being unconditional to finance responsibilities from developed countries– is a let down from the 70% goal in the earlier submitted Intended NDC, and simply forgoes the 1.5°C Paris goal which the Philippines and nations similarly vulnerable to climate impacts painstakingly negotiated for,” explained Gerry Arances, Executive Director of CEED.

     “GHG emissions, in fact, should have already peaked way before 2030,” he added, citing the report ‘Greening the Grid’ jointly released by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, USAID, and Department of Energy in January 2018.

     According to Arances, the NDC’s power sector component is highly problematic, as the DOE and CCC intend to submit plans that include coal and fossil gas expansion in the next two decades, despite the use of these destructive fossil fuels being the main culprit in triggering rising global temperatures. 

     “The DOE’s admission that they did not consider coal peaking in their GHG emissions reductions and avoidance computations is irresponsible to say the least, and disregards the millions of Filipinos who suffer from coal’s impacts and climate disasters. Having a bigger additional renewable energy capacity target –though still much less than the climate-ideal set-up of 100% RE–than before, as noted by the DOE, is a good step forward, but without phase out plans for coal, we are bound to repeat carbon-intensive mistakes of the past,” he said.

     CEED also flagged transport sector commitments as problematic, with CEED Research, Policy, and Law Head Avril De Torres noting that they “pose grave threats of massive displacement for transport workers, as no just transition framework seems to be in place in the draft NDC.”

     “The start of the PUV Modernization Program earlier this year, which took away the livelihoods of thousands of jeepney drivers, is already indicative of the failure of the Department of Transportation to take into account the rights of transport workers to proper means of living and inclusion in transportation improvement processes. The DOTr and the CCC, along with transport stakeholders, must work together to amend this,” she said.

     As part of its responsibilities as signatory to the Paris Agreement, the Philippines is required to submit its NDC ahead the 26th Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC. With this looming deadline, Arances said that lack of inclusivity in the NDC consultation process is alarming. 

     “We had five years since the Paris Agreement was adopted, and over a year of multi-sectoral consultations before today. Yet a 3-page document containing unambitious and vague targets was circulated just the night before this latest consultation, and this too is the first time that stakeholders were presented the draft NDC–all in a set-up that does not afford stakeholders ample time to participate meaningfully and review GHG reduction calculations and plans. The future of Filipinos will be inevitably impacted by climate mitigation and adaptation efforts and demands in the NDC. We know the CCC is sincerely working to get stakeholders on board, and we urge it and all government agencies involved in this process to push further for inclusive consultation efforts and raising ambitions before the document’s submission,” he said.