Despite his country’s ratification of the Paris Agreement in March 2017, high uncertainty remains as to whether Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte intends to take the substantial action required to meet its Paris climate commitment—to cut emissions by 70% below business as usual by 2030—or whether his government will weaken it (Ranada, 2017).
Recent announcements on continued support for coal-based electricity generation and increasing coal-fired power capacity to 2040 add significantly to this uncertainty (Department of Energy, 2017; Flores, 2017). The lack of detail on how the Philippines will achieve its emissions reduction target, and the role the LULUCF sector might play, also calls into question the Philippines’ intent to reduce emissions in other sectors. Current policy projections indicate a rapid and ongoing increase in greenhouse gas emissions, which appear inconsistent with meeting the NDC commitments.
We rate the Philippines’ conditional target of 70% below business as usual (BAU) levels by 2030 “2°C compatible”—if taken at face value. The Philippines’ emissions pathway towards 2030, as proposed in its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), could be rated “1.5°C Paris Agreement compatible,” if it were unconditional. However, given the conditional nature of INDC target, we downgrade the INDC target by one category to “2°C compatible.” The Philippines’ reference—or business as usual (BAU)—scenario, against which the target is measured, has not yet been published and the government has shared no details explaining how the NDC target relates to the LULUCF sector, nor how this will be quantified.
In March 2017, the Philippines Senate voted unanimously to ratify the Paris Agreement (ClimateAction, 2017). The Philippines has not yet submitted its NDC to the UNFCCC registry as of November 2017. Although reports indicate that President Duterte may consider weakening the Philippines’ NDC target before its submission, for this assessment we assume that its current INDC became its NDC with the Paris Agreement ratification (UNFCCC, 2015). For this reason, we only refer to the NDC throughout this assessment.
In its NDC, the Philippines states that its 2030 target is conditional on “the extent of financial resources, including technology development & transfer, and capacity building, that will be made available to the Philippines.” The target covers all emissions from all sectors, including land use, land use change and forestry (LULUCF) (Government of The Philippines, 2015a).
The NDC does not report its BAU emissions projections, nor does it quantify future LULUCF emissions. This introduces substantial uncertainty in interpreting the NDC targets, and makes quantifying emissions levels excluding LULUCF difficult. When assuming that industrial, energy and agricultural emissions (emissions excluding LULUCF) are also to be reduced by 70% below a BAU—similar to our current policy projections—the CAT estimates this would result in emissions reverting to 1990 levels by 2030 (excluding LULUCF).
If the target were (partly) unconditional, and directed at energy, industrial and agricultural emissions we would rate it “1.5°C Paris Agreement compatible.” Given the conditional nature of the NDC target, we downgrade the target by one category to “2°C compatible.” We also note that the missing provision of BAU level emissions and the lack of information on how the mitigation target is distributed over LULUCF and non-LULUCF sectors creates significant uncertainty in the target’s emissions levels.
According to our analysis, and in common with most countries, the Philippines will need to implement additional policies to reach its conditional NDC. Full implementation of the planned ‘National Renewable Energy Program’ and ‘The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Roadmap’ would lower emissions by 12% compared to current policy projections. However, the NDC target is unlikely to be met if all the announced coal-fired power plant capacity (more than 10 GW) were to be built.
On 1 October, the Philippines submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), including a conditional target of a 70% reduction in GHG emissions below BAU projections by 2030. This emissions reduction target is conditional on financial resources, including technology development and transfer as well as capacity building. Even though the Philippines Senate cast an unanimous vote to ratify the Paris Agreement in March 2017 (ClimateAction, 2017), the Philippines has not yet submitted its NDC (as of November 2017).
Uncertainty remains over whether President Duterte and his government will weaken the NDC’s ambition and revise its emission reduction target downward. In March 2017, Climate Change Commission Vice Chairperson Secretary Vernice Victorio indicated that the possibility to revise the Philippines’ NDC downward at a later point in time convinced President Duterte to ratify the Paris Agreement after the vote of the Philippine Senate (Ranada, 2017). In addition, the decision on the process and timeline to submit the NDC by 2020 remains unclear and is still pending (Fontanilla, 2017). For this assessment, the Climate Action Tracker assumes that the Philippines’ INDC became its NDC with the Paris Agreement ratification (UNFCCC, 2015). For this reason, we only refer to the NDC throughout this assessment.
Because the NDC target does not distinguish LULUCF emissions reductions from reductions in energy, industry and agriculture emissions, and lacks a quantification of the BAU, the emissions reductions are difficult to estimate. Assuming the current policy projection (see the next section) is in line with BAU projections and the 70% emissions reductions are applied to non-LULUCF emissions, the NDC could result in emissions decreasing back to 1990 levels (excl. LULUCF).
In 2015, the Department of Energy (DoE) announced that more than 10 GW of coal-fired power plant capacity would be constructed in the Philippines by 2025 and released a Coal Roadmap 2017–2040 (Department of Energy, 2017b). If all these power plants were built, it would be difficult for the government to achieve its NDC target (excluding LULUCF), especially because the recent upswing of development in the coal industry has encouraged increased interest in coal exploration (Department of Energy, 2016a).
The current NDC covers all sectors including LULUCF, however, the NDC does not specify to which extent emission reductions ought to be achieved in each respective sector. There is high uncertainty particularly about reported emissions data in the LULUCF sector and their future projections. If the government expects larger carbon sinks from LULUCF than in our analysis, other sectors would have to decarbonise less to achieve the emissions reduction target. Although a net negative effect of the LULUCF sector contributes to global GHG emissions reductions, the decarbonisation of energy consumption and industry is pivotal to achieving long-term climate mitigation targets. A less ambitious emissions reductions target was hinted at in the Philippines’ draft NDC (Government of The Philippines, 2015b), with only a 10–20% reduction in GHG emissions from BAU in the energy sector.
The need for a transformation in all sectors is also recognised in the NDC as it states that the Philippines “views the need to peak its emissions as an opportunity to transition as early as it can to an efficient, resilient, adaptive, sustainable clean energy-driven economy, and it is determined to do so with partners from the global community.” A disentanglement in the commitment of LULUCF emissions from other emissions (from energy, industry and agriculture) would be in line with the mentioned transformation and peaking.
 This assumes that LULUCF emissions in the BAU scenario in 2030 are near zero, in line with the most recent estimate of actual LULUCF emissions in the Philippines from FAO (FAOSTAT, 2016) for 2012.Since the BAU is not provided in the INDC there is large uncertainty around the projected 2030 emissions assumed in the INDC.
We rate the Philippines “2°C compatible.” The “2°C compatible” rating indicates that the Philippines’ climate commitment in 2030 is within the range of what is considered to be a fair share of global effort but is not consistent with the Paris Agreement. This approach requires other countries to make deeper reductions and comparably greater effort to limit warming to 1.5°C.
If all countries were to follow the Philippines’ approach, warming could be held below—but not well below—2°C, and hence would still be too high to be consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit. The 2°C compatible category refers to the 2°C goal adopted by the Copenhagen Agreement in 2009, now replaced by the 1.5°C limit in the Paris Agreement, providing a historical reference point and bridge to the Paris Agreement compatible category rating.
Our rating of the Philippines’ NDC is based on its conditional commitment of reducing GHG emissions by 70% below business as usual (BAU) levels by 2030. The Philippines’ business as usual (BAU) scenario, against which the target is measured, has not yet been published as of November 2017 and the government has shared no details explaining how the NDC target relates to the LULUCF sector, nor how this will be quantified. For the quantification of the conditional NDC target, we thus apply the reduction target to the current policy projections as estimated by CAT and assume that emissions excluding LULUCF would also be reduced by 70% below a BAU.
The conditional NDC target falls into the “1.5°C compatible” category. Given the conditional nature of the NDC target, we downgrade the target by one category to “2°C compatible.”
If the CAT were to rate the Philippines’ projected emissions levels in 2030 under current policies, the Philippines would also be rated“2°C compatible.”
For further information about the risks and impacts associated with the temperature levels of each of the categories click here.
Neither implemented nor planned policies are sufficient to achieve the Philippines’ NDC target. Emissions growth will be predominantly driven by increased emissions from transport and coal-fired electricity generation.
Without the full implementation of the renewable energy and energy efficiency targets, emissions under current policies (excluding LULUCF) are expected to increase up to about 215 MtCO2e in 2020 and 315 MtCO2e in 2030(see ‘Current policy projections’ in the graph). However, if the current upswing of development in coal power plants were to continue, this would represent a significant emissions contribution that would strongly limit the country’s capacity to achieve its target.
If the Philippines fully implements current policies and proposed targets, most notably the tripling in renewable power capacity by 2030, compared to 2010, and achieves the 10% energy efficiency target, total GHG emissions in 2030 could decrease to approximately 280 MtCO2e (see ‘Planned policy projections’ in the graph). This would be a reduction of 12% in 2030 compared to our current policy projections (or BAU for the NDC calculation), compared to a 70% reduction in the NDC.
The National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) offers a framework to implement mitigation and adaptation strategies and involves institutional changes and capacity building to facilitate climate change policies. However, the NCCAP in itself does not enforce quantifiable measures, so the targets from the NCCAP are not included in current policy projections.
The Department of Energy approved the Energy Efficiency Roadmap in December 2014 (covering the period 2014–2030) and its corresponding short-term Energy Efficiency Action Plan in December 2015 (for the planning period 2016-2020), both of which have been prepared with the support of the European Union (Department of Energy, 2016b).
Overall, the Energy Efficiency Roadmap mandates energy savings equivalent to 10% across energy demand sectors in 2030, compared to the reference energy demand outlook. Both policy documents list various measures to enhance energy efficiency in the buildings, industry, energy supply, and transport sectors. The Energy Efficiency Action Plan is being implemented by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Division of the Energy Utilization Management Bureau of the Department of Energy, but the extent and coverage of implementation is unclear.
The current policy projections only include those efficiency measures which had been under implementation at the end of 2015, which is the cut-off date of the APERC Energy Demand and Supply Outlook (APERC, 2016) for the Philippines. The full implementation of the Energy Efficiency Roadmap and the Energy Efficiency Action Plan is considered in the ‘planned policy projections’
The Philippines’ electricity mix relies heavily on coal-based generation, accounting for 48% of total electricity generation in 2016 (Department of Energy, 2017a). Recent statements from energy department officials in October 2017 imply that the proposed energy mix until 2030 would remain the same even after the Philippines ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change (Flores, 2017). In line with the government’s plan to reach the goal of energy self-sufficiency and its Coal Roadmap 2017–2040 (Department of Energy, 2017b), the Energy Department started to bid out new coal exploration and development contracts in the Philippines in October 2017. As of July 2017, 4.45 GW of new coal plants were under construction in the Philippines, with a further 8.55 GW in the pipeline (Coalswarm, 2017). The country’s total installed capacity reached 21.4 GW in 2016 (with coal accounting for 35%), up from 18.8 GW in 2015 (Department of Energy, 2017a).
In contrast to these recent developments, the Renewable Energy Act of 2008 aimed to accelerate the exploration, development and utilisation of renewable energy in the Philippines. Launched in 2011, the National Renewable Energy Program (NREP) serves as the blueprint for the implementation of the Renewable Energy Act of 2008 by planning to triple the 2010 renewable energy capacity level from 5.4 GW to 15.3 GW until 2030 (IRENA, 2017). In its Coal Roadmap 2017–2040, the government announced its intention to review and update the NREP over the course of 2017 and 2018 (Department of Energy, 2017d)
Mandated under the Renewable Energy Act (2008) as one of five policy mechanisms to promote renewables deployment, a feed-in tariff applicable to solar, wind, biomass and run-of river hydropower has been implemented in 2012. As of December 2016, a total of 178 projects with a total capacity of about 3.0 GW have been accredited, with an additional 22 projects with a total capacity of about 1.6 GW being considered for nomination (Department of Energy, 2017c). Due to the delayed implementation of other policy instruments under the Renewable Energy Act (2008) such as a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), the fulfilment of the renewable energy capacity set in the NREP has been delayed significantly and it remains unclear whether the planned capacity expansion can be achieved (IRENA, 2017).
As for the renewable energy capacity to be installed under the National Renewable Energy Program (NREP), the BAU scenario of APERC Energy Demand and Supply Outlook (APERC, 2016) used for the current policy projections considers all committed renewable energy projects and the overall renewable energy historical capacity trends as of the end of 2015 (APERC, 2016). The planned policy projections further consider the full implementation of the renewable energy targets specified in ‘The National Renewable Energy Programme’.
Data on LULUCF reported in the latest official national inventories showed that emission decreased from nearly zero in 1994 to a net sink (removal of CO2 from the atmosphere) of 105 MtCO2 in 2000 (UNFCCC, 2017). This change between 1994 and 2000 is partly attributed to changes in definition of forests and availability of data (Government of The Philippines, 2014). A logging ban on old-growth forests in the 1990s may also have contributed to the net removal of GHG emissions (Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission, 2001). High uncertainty remains about the actual emission and/or removal levels in the Philippine LULUCF sector. For instance, the FAO estimates the LULUCF was a net sink of 2.6 MtCO2 in 1994 and 2000 with the sink increasing to 60.4 MtCO2 by 2014 (FAOSTAT, 2017). The FAO estimate for 2000 differs very substantially from the official national inventory for the same year.
The Philippines’ plans to improve monitoring, assessment and implementation of the national REDD+ strategy (Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 2010), which could contribute to reforestation. In addition, a ban on cutting and harvesting in natural and residual forests throughout the country has been introduced by executive order in 2011 (President of the Philippines, 2011). There are no BAU projections on LULUCF provided in the NDC, resulting in large uncertainties on future emissions and/or removals. We assume LULUCF emissions in 2030 are near zero, in line with the most recent estimate of actual LULUCF emissions in the Philippines from FAO (FAOSTAT, 2016) for 2012.
 Given that the BAU in the Philippines NDC is not defined and we use our current policy projections instead (current policies projections = BAU per definition), the analysis cannot fully determine whether the current policies would lead to levels above or below the NDC target under different BAU assumptions. However, for a 70% reduction to be above the current policy projections, the BAU would have to reflect a very strong emission increase from today’s level.
The historical dataset is based on CO2 from fuel combustion from the IEA (IEA, 2015), other CO2 and non-CO2 emissions are taken from EDGAR (JRC/PBL, 2012). LULUCF emissions are taken from UNFCCC database as officially reported by the country for years 1994 and 2000 (UNFCCC, 2017).
Because the NDC does not specify the BAU pathway, we applied the reduction target to current policy projections as estimated by CAT (see the next section). Further, given that the target covers all emissions from all sectors and that the NDC does not quantify future LULUCF emissions, we assumed emissions excluding LULUCF were also to be reduced by 70% below a BAU.
The current policy projections for total energy-related CO2 emissions are based on the BAU scenario from the 6th edition of the APEC Energy Demand and Supply Outlook (APERC, 2016). The BAU scenario of APERC (2016) ‘reflects current policies and trends with in the country’s energy sector; thus, its projections largely extend the past into the future.’ We therefore assume that all of the current policies for the energy sector are included with a cut-off date of end 2015. This contains a growth in electricity demand of 6% per year between 2010 and 2030 and a growth in renewable electricity generation of 1.8% over the same period. The APERC scenarios use historical energy and CO2 data derived or estimated from Energy Balances of non-OECD Countries and CO2 Emissions from Fuel Combustion.
To estimate non-energy CO2 emission projections we used the composition of CO2 emissions by sector from the 2013 APERC report (APERC, 2013). Non-CO2 emissions are based on EDGAR (JRC/PBL, 2012) and projected growth rates from US EPA (2012) are applied to estimate the growth in non-CO2 emissions.
The impact of the ‘The National Renewable Energy Program’ and ‘The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Roadmap’ were quantified and subtracted from the APEC reference scenario. This shows the minimum level of expected emissions if these planned policies are implemented (‘Planned policy projections’ including EE and RE roadmaps).
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