Path to decarbonisation

Danna Mheliza Mae Budano ||

Have you ever wondered why our country experiences scorching heat all year long, or why storms seem to be packing up more wind and rain compared to the past? Have you ever asked how we can possibly stop it from getting worse?

Increasing temperatures, rising sea levels, intensifying typhoons — these are what we have observed in the past few decades. This alarming trend is expected to continue if the world doesn’t collectively step up its game on reducing the main cause of these events – carbon emissions.

Climate change has existed since the start of Earth’s history, even before humans came to existence. So why exactly is it such a big deal now? Climate change, today, occurs at a much faster rate compared to the past. As a matter of fact, carbon dioxide levels have increased by 40% since pre-industrial times. As carbon emissions increase, temperatures also continue to rise, and at present, many countries have started to suffer the consequences, and unfortunately, the Philippines is second only to Japan in terms of climate risk. 

Burning fossil fuels such as coal, petroleum and natural gas contribute largely to carbon emissions. Fossil fuels are the largest energy sources in the world, making up a staggering 84% of the world’s energy. In 2019, almost 90% of the Philippines’ energy still comes from different fossil fuels. This is a large hurdle to overcome to reduce carbon emissions. Back in 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the implementation of the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) 2017 – 2022, which included climate policies and measures. 

But reality refuses to move the way we want it to. Since 2016, carbon emissions have only increased — the Philippines, for example,  is expected to take the lead in South-East Asia when it comes to increasing carbon emissions. Excessive mining and deforestation are still occurring at frightening rates. 

Despite that, the country took a small step to reducing carbon emissions from fossil fuels by placing a moratorium on new coal power plants. The Philippines is expecting to slowly shift to cleaner energy resources such as wind and solar power. By 2050, it is expected that the Philippines would have the 2nd cleanest energy grid in Southeast Asia. 

Our future is filled with uncertainty; it is impossible to guess  how the Philippines would look even just 10 years into the future. Parts of major coastal cities could be submerged underwater, or we could also become the carbon-friendly country we are striving to be. It all depends on how we, the citizens, and the government choose to act in this agitating situation. 

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