by Myrna Velasco, 19 March 2015
from Manila Bulletin
After experimental play on various themes, the Department of Energy (DOE) has finally settled on ‘energy-resiliency’ as its theme for the October 2015 Energy Ministers Meeting for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in Cebu.
The department formally announced that its core theme would be “Towards an Energy Resilient APEC Community”, which is more of a note-to-self for the Philippines given its nightmarish experience with super-typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013.
Prior to this, the DOE was reportedly experimenting on “Here Comes the Sun” theme – purportedly giving focus on prospective foray of solar investments in the country – and perhaps, globally.
But some members of the planning group, it was gathered, shot this down because it is not even perfect-fit to one of its targeted resource speakers – former Energy Secretary Steven Chu – whose reign had been marred with solar bankruptcies in the United States.
On the final theme, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla noted that it “augurs well for vulnerable economies” like the Philippines and other similarly-situated APEC countries.
Aside from the country’s Haiyan, it is also worth noting that there had been the Indian Ocean tsunami (2004), the US had its hurricane Katrina (2005), the Tabasco and Chiapas floods in Mexico (2007), the Sumatra earthquake in Indonesia (2009) and the Tohoku big quake and tsunami in Japan (2011).
Petilla noted that the APEC energy ministers meeting shall focus on learning from the experiences of each country; and from that, they shall explore strategies “on mitigating the impacts of disasters and natural calamities on our energy infrastructures.”
The energy department said the discussion points shall delve on best practices on “climate-proofing energy infrastructures, avenues for promoting cutting edge energy efficiency technologies, community-based clean energies to help alleviate poverty, and most importantly, energy trade and investment in the APEC community.”
While the topics still appear too rhetorical, it is a challenge then for the energy department to break that down into something that can be understood by broader constituency not only in the energy sector but the public in general.
Last year’s theme in China focused on the dynamics and future of the gas sector – which currently is the hottest topic in the energy world.
This is the second time that the Philippines will be hosting the APEC Leaders Meeting – the first one was more than two decades ago during the term of President Ramos.