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Fair is Fast: Just energy transition policy needed to speed-up renewable energy dev’t, report reveals

(Quezon City) A recently launched study by policy think-tank Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center (LRC) found that a just transition approach to the Philippines’ renewable energy (RE) development can accelerate the country’s climate goal of 75 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 while attaining energy demand projections.

“A fair transition is a fast transition towards a clean and renewable energy future for the Philippines. A Just Energy Transition (JET) framework will potentially reduce a third of commissioning time for renewable energy projects as it addresses major bottlenecks in impact assessment and social acceptability,” said Maya Quirino, Advocacy Coordinator of LRC said. 

Various studies have observed increasing commissioning times for RE projects in the past decade, with social conflict causing up to eight (8) months in delay or 33 percent of the current global average commissioning time of 24 months. A study on environmental impact assessments (EIA) revealed that appeals and redressing to assessments resulting from insufficient impact assessments and public consultations constituted 46 percent of the entire average EIA duration.

In its latest publication ‘Just Energy Transition in the Philippines’, the LRC explained that “the JET framework brings to fore shifts in energy control to communities, democratizes wealth and the workplace, advances ecological restoration, and gives emphasis on racial justice and economic and social equity. A community-focused transition re-localizes most production and consumption, and retains and restores cultures and traditions.” 

An emblematic case in point is the proposed 603-Megawatt Rizal Wind Energy Project owned by Singapore-based Vena Energy, whose project location overlaps with the protected landscape of the Masungi Georeserve. Local advocates and indigenous peoples have opposed the project, as the proponent has been unable to demonstrate any robust mitigating measures to the possible impacts to the unique and fragile karst ecosystems and over 70 endemic species reliant on these habitats.

“Impact Assessments in communities affected should include full disclosure mechanisms for the public to be able to scrutinize these renewable energy projects. Applications for projects must indicate all potential, direct, indirect, induced, and cumulative impacts, as well as any other stringent standards covering environmental, socioeconomic, and human rights impacts,” Quirino said. 

“These requirements should not be limited to a one-time evaluation but conducted as periodic and timely audits throughout the entire duration of projects, particularly for commercial and large-scale renewable initiatives,” Quirino ended.

Access the full publication here.

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