Infographics series on just and sustainable energy: Transitioning from coal

November 28, 2022


As world leaders gather at the Conference of Parties 27 (COP27) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Egypt, we are releasing a three-part series of infographics on just and sustainable energy. This is the first of the series.

Transitioning to renewable energy is key to addressing the climate crisis. Such transition must also be guided by justice, inclusivity, and transparency.

Philippines faces several challenges in its energy sector. These include coal-reliance, issues on affordability, accessibility, and security, and human rights.

Coal is the dirtiest energy source in the Philippines today yet it comprises more than half of the gross power generation mix in 2021.

In 2018, 28 coal-fired power plants were granted Environmental Compliance Certificate. The coal moratorium in 2020 does not cover indicative coal power projects with significant progress in securing necessary permits, let alone existing coal plants. A total of 3.8GW of new coal power plants by 2028 is committed and potentially an additional 4.4GW by 2030.

Electricity in the Philippines is among the highest in Asia. This is contributed by the stranding cost of coal plants and also the dependence on imported coal which has volatile prices.

Around 1.1 million households still do not have electricity. Transmission services only reach main islands and are vulnerable to natural disasters. Old power plants that are still in use have increasingly questionable reliability.

Contributing to these issues is the complete privatization and the concentration of the energy sector’s generation and distribution systems. For instance, San Miguel Corporation, Aboitiz Power Corporation, and Manila Electric Company (Meralco) are among the biggest owners in the sector, owning both generation and distribution assets. This raises transparency issues and weakens the competition, making the sector vulnerable to abuse in prices and supply. The state also lost the ability to steer the country’s long-term growth.

Development aggression can be found in most large-scale industry projects in the country – including energy projects. Here are some of the most recent human rights violation reports linked to energy projects:

Gened Dam in Apayao: The continous presence of the armed state agents caused frequent tensions with the residents in Isnag towns. Stronger threat and intimidation was imposed to vocal opposition.

Kaliwa Dam in Rizal: The ground zero was militarized and the project site is now inaccessible to the indgenous people. In 2020, a Dumagat was detained and accused of being a rebel. Several opposing locals were also red-tagged.

Ahunan Dam in Laguna: Daisy Macapanpan, a member of a local organization opposing the dam, was arrested in June 2022. Armed state agents were observed to be increasing in the third quarter of 2022. At least one local organizer received threats through an anonymous text message. There are ongoing road development despite the absence of an environmental permit.

San Juan Geothermal power plant in Batangas: Aggressive land-grabbing from farmers and presence of the armed state agents have been observed in some areas covered by the planned geothermal power plant.

Coal mining in South Cotabato: Seven tribal members, including Datu Victor Danyan, were red-tagged and executed. This October, heavy machinery were reportedly operating in the coal mining site despite an ongoing provincial open-pit mining ban.

All of the aforementioned projects have been linked to lack of or deceptive consent acquisition from the local communities involved.