The message from recent climate reports is clear: humanity only has ten years left to prevent a global climate catastrophe. The solution for this crisis is also clear: we need to drastically reduce our carbon emissions by weaning ourselves off fossil fuels. Almost all nations have already set carbon reduction goals in Paris in 2015. Why are we not closing fossil fuel plants as fast as possible?
Energy has driven the massive economic growth that we have experienced since the Industrial Revolution. And with growing economies comes growing energy demand, especially in developing countries like the Philippines. Due to the pressure to rapidly meet this energy demand, fossil fuels remain tempting – and, some believe, unavoidable.
It is difficult to choose between climate and development. But we know that we have to change things if we are to survive.
The global energy transition towards 100% renewable energy offers a way out of this dilemma. But enabling this transition comes with its own set of very challenging processes. We need a collective understanding of the complexities surrounding the new energy system. We need living models that will demonstrate how low-carbon development can actually happen. And ultimately, we need to trigger systemic changes in our society's relationship with energy.Energy is the driving force of a nation. It allows people to use technologies that make life more productive and liveable. It also powers industries that produce the products we use and the jobs we work in. It is the basic resource where everything comes from.
But what happens if only a few control this basic resource?
The present global energy crisis has shown how the misuse of control over energy can cause massive suffering. Russia leveraged its position as one of the largest oil and gas producers to force other nations to condone its invasion of Ukraine. As a result of their decision to cut off fuel exports, fuel prices surged, in turn making food, transportation, and basic necessities more expensive for people worldwide.
Our country’s energy experience also demonstrates this fact. Two decades of poor implementation of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) has resulted in an energy system where the top 10 “energy oligarchs” own 70% of energy generation in the Philippines. Their stranglehold over our country’s energy contributed to our country’s status as having the third-highest electricity rates in Asia.
It seems like there is no other way to develop energy systems but to submit to powers that centralize power generation. After all, for the longest time, energy has been considered a “natural monopoly.”
The renewable energy transition allows us to break free from this monopoly. Due to its decentralized and localized nature, renewable energy offers us a chance to break the dependence of people and communities on fuel imports or large companies.
But accelerating this transition in the Philippine context comes with its own set of challenges. Business models, technologies, or policies that work in other countries might not work here. Social and environmental impacts from the energy transition might be different here. We might end up worsening the state of the Filipino people if we do this transition haphazardly.
We need to create living local models that will demonstrate how the energy transition can be embedded in our social and economic systems. We need platforms where these new technologies can be piloted so that we can learn how energy will trigger systemic changes in our society.
Our people need a power system that truly empowers.
And we need bold movers who will push this transition through.
Please send your completed application requirements to reboot(at)fes-philippines.org. You may address it to our Assistant Program Coordinator, Pau Darroca. For any inquiries, please don't hesitate to shoot us an email.