Date
17 October 2017
Coal supplies about 40 percent of the world’s energy, but it is also responsible for a third of all carbon emissions. Photo: Bloomberg
Coal supplies about 40 percent of the world’s energy, but it is also responsible for a third of all carbon emissions. Photo: Bloomberg

Why Asia’s coal king is hard to dethrone

The Philippines aims to operate 23 new coal-fired power plants over the next five years to meet rising electricity demand.

The plan shows that despite its self-image as environmentally progressive, the country still has rely on coal to fuel its economic development.

It also illustrates the challenge negotiators in climate talks in Paris are facing in cobbling an agreement to reduce carbon emissions, the Wall Street Journal said.

Coal, a cheap and abundant commodity, supplies about 40 percent of the world’s energy, according to the International Energy Agency. It is also responsible for a third of all carbon emissions, and its use will continue to rise, especially in Asia.

The Philippines’ plan will make it Asia’s most coal-dependent country by 2035 as a percentage of its energy mix, energy research company IHS Energy Insight said.

Government officials say the country needs to build more coal plants to offset declining domestic reserves of natural gas.

Currently, the country relies on renewable sources, chiefly geothermal and hydroelectric, for a third of its electricity needs.

Filipinos are aware of the impact of climate change. In 2013, typhoon Haiyan killed over 7,000 people and devastated the country’s central provinces. Scientists have blamed the intensity of the supertyphoon on global warming.

Before arriving in Paris, President Benigno Aquino III pledged the Philippines would reduce its carbon emissions by 70 percent by 2030.

But the Philippine government said its pledge would depend on financial assistance and the transfer of green technology from more developed nations.

Meanwhile, the country is projected to triple the number of its coal plants by 2020 and double its carbon emissions to 70 million metric tons a year by 2025.

Other developing countries, especially in Asia, are increasingly relying on coal to fuel economic progress.

Vietnam plans to double its coal plants to 40 by 2022, Thailand looks at coal as a means to cut its dependence on natural gas, and Indonesia will open more coal-fired facilities to support its mining industry.

China added 39 gigawatts to its coal-fired capacity last year, while Japan is building dozens of new coal plants as an alternative energy source following the closure of nuclear plants in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

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RA/CG

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