Carbon tax will only make power more expensive in PHL–Monsada

by Lenie Lectura – March 3, 2016

from Business Mirror

The Philippines is not yet ready to impose levies on the carbon content of fuels, the Department of Energy (DOE) said on Thursday.

Energy Secretary Zenaida Y. Monsada, during the Shell Powering Progress Together (PPT)-Asia forum held in Manila, said it is “not a good idea” to impose the so-called carbon tax, amid high electricity prices being collected from power users.

“The concern is that we already have a very high power rate. We’re not competitive with our neighbors,” she said. Instead, the DOE is keen on promoting renewable energy (RE) as a power source to balance the utilization of fossil fuels and nonconventional type of energy.

“Putting a tax on carbon may lead to higher [electricity] prices. What we want to do is encourage RE development and classification of baseload and mid-merit plants,” Monsada added.

A carbon tax is a form of carbon pricing. Carbon is present in every hydrocarbon fuel, such as coal, petroleum and natural gas, and is released as carbon dioxide (CO2) when burned.

RE sources, on the other hand, do not convert hydrocarbons to CO2.

Dr. Edvin Aldrian, vice chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change-Working Group 1, said carbon tax is not fit for Asian countries. “It is not really for Asian countries. It is, however, already established in Europe.”

Monsada and Aldrian were invited as panel members to talk about “Energy Transitions and Climate Change Challenge” at the forum.

Shell Philippines showcased the Philippines as a leading proponent of collaborative action in the region, during its annual flagship forum on urbanization and sustainability.

During the forum, local multisectoral partners took center stage in sharing key sustainability projects to address the growing issues on urban and climate resilience, as well as demands on energy, water and food.

“Energy, water and food are the world’s most vital resources and where public, private and civil-society sectors need to collaborate in order to make the country more resilient,” said Ed Chua, chairman of Shell Philippines. “Cities, being the largest human habitat of the future, should, therefore, be essential targets of innovation.”

With Shell’s continuous thrust toward shaping a more sustainable future of energy for all countries, such as the Philippines, are poised to survive and thrive in the new challenging conditions that the 21st century may bring, Chua added.

With the increased need for climate resilience and disaster-risk management, especially in coastal communities of the Visayas and Mindanao regions, Shell spearheaded the Automated Weather Station (AWS) network project focused on updating and expanding the existing AWS network of partner climate research institution Manila Observatory, together with Smart Communications.

The AWS is an urban and environmental-resilience project that provides localized weather data to communities to help enhance risk and resilience analysis on weather and climate in key cities, especially coastal cities most at risk to climate-change impacts.

The project provides opportunities to generate new knowledge through scientific research on climate and helps to enhance disaster preparedness of local government units.

The Manila Observatory provides technical analysis of weather and climate data, while Smart provides free connectivity for wireless data transmission. Shell has offered strategically located retail stations and depots as sites for installation of the AWS devices, which provide near real-time weather data in a specific location, such as temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction.

Shell’s partnership with Manila Observatory also extends to upgrading the institute’s weather and climate facilities, including the installation of a high-tech computing facility in 2015, which significantly improved the modeling capacity of its Regional Climate Systems program.

In Palawan, the site of the Malampaya Deep Water Gas-to-Power Project, Shell has embarked on a similar AWS project together with the Weather Philippines Foundation and the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development.