#PHVote: Advocates dismayed at presidential bets’ ‘catfight’ over coal

During the second presidential debate, climate advocates lament how the debaters steered away from the discussion on coal and climate change

MANILA, Philippines – What was supposed to be a discussion on climate change turned into a catfight, said climate advocates.

During the first round of the second presidential debate, several climate advocates lamented how the debaters were steering away from the discussion.

Although the round was supposed to be dedicated to climate change, the discussion on the Freedom of Information Bill began a heated argument on Vice President Binay’s corruption cases and Senator Grace Poe’s citizenship and residency issues.

Coal, concrete solutions, hypocrisy

When the conversation shifted to climate change, experts zeroed in on the discussion on coal and alternative and renewable energy sources.

Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s stand (or lack thereof, according to Rappler contributor Leloy Claudio) on coal power, in particular, drew flak.

Duterte accused the UN of hypocrisy because of what he saw was unfair commitments under the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC). Although the Philippines was one of the lowest contributors to global emissions, they are expected to adhere to the 70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Advocates said Duterte was making excuses for coal power and demanded better – and more concrete – options from him.

For former Interior and Local Government secretary Mar Roxas said he would address this by incentivizing clean energy and pushing for a more environmentally-friendly energy mix.


Coal-fired power plants, which spew greenhouse gases, remain the Philippine’s largest energy source at 29%, followed by oil at 23%. This runs counter to the global trend in green energy production, suggested Gore.The country has 246,000 megawatts of untapped sun, tidal ocean power, wind, geothermal, biomass, and hydro resources.

“This is 13 times more than the current installed capacity,” according to Senate Committee on Climate Change Loren Legarda. (READ: Coal-minded leaders left behind by green energy growth – Al Gore)

Adaptation or mitigation?

The discussion on coal energy prompted other candidates to tackle climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Poe suggested climate adaptation measures like transferring populations away from high-risk areas and protecting crops. Roxas criticized her for this, but made the mistake of labeling them as “mitigation”.

This led the experts to conclude the candidates did not actually understand what they were talking about.

– Rappler.com