Big power firms cashing in on CDM while destroying environment – report

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/01 December) — One hand reaches out to protect the environment while another hand continues to destroy it. This was how the Focus on Global South and groups calling for “climate justice” described the country’s largest power conglomerates in their commitment for renewable energy projects under the clean development mechanism (CDM) scheme provided for by the Kyoto Protocol.

In a June 30, 2010 report titled, “The Clean Development Mechanism Projects in the Philippines: Costly Dirty Money-making Schemes,” the Focus on  Global South pointed out how big power firms cash in on the renewable energy projects under the CDM while carrying out projects that destroy the environment.

The report cited the 42.5-megawatt run-of-river hydropower plant run by the Aboitiz-owned Hedcor in Sibulan, Santa Cruz, Davao del Sur and the 20-megawatt Nasulo geothermal plant by the Lopez-owned Northern Negros geothermal project in Valencia, Negros Oriental.

Both projects have been listed as of June 2009 among the 32 registered CDM projects in the
Philippines targeted to reduce emission levels of greenhouse gases to the environment.

Joseph Purugganan, research associate of the Focus on the Global South-Philippine Programme, said that while the Lopez and Aboitiz companies carry out these renewable energy projects under CDM, a large part of the energy mix of these big energy corporations is still derived from coal.

The report cited the Freedom from Debt Coalition study on the privatization of the National Power Corporation, showing how both the Lopez- and Aboitiz-owned power firms continue to rely on fossil fuels for the bulk of its total energy mix.

While the Lopez-owned power firms source 73 percent of their total energy mix from fossil fuels, those of Aboitiz Power rely 42 percent on coal.

CDM is a flexible mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol which allows developed countries to offset their targeted emission reductions by buying them from the developing world in the form of carbon credits.

“Dahil sa mechanism, pinapayagan pa rin ang mga mayayamang bansa na magkalat (The mechanism allows rich countries to continue their emission levels if they can source it from the developing world),” said Purugganan, who distributed the report during the November 22 CDM briefing here.

“It’s a way for big private firms to earn from carbon credits, the same corporations involved in power projects that are harmful to the environment,” he explained.

But Rene Ronquillo, Hedcor president, said that every Filipino company should invest in renewable energy.

“Just because we are building coal does not mean we’re not going to develop hydropower,” Ronquillo said. “It’s not one over the other because we need both.”

He did not deny that the Aboitiz-owned company is investing in renewable energy with an eye for profit.

According to the report, CDM projects in the Philippines make up a “small but growing percentage of the world’s total emission offsetting targets.”

As of June 2009, 32 projects have been registered for CDM—with 45 more in the pipeline—and are said to reduce carbon emission by 1.4 tons annually or over 12 million tons in the next seven to 10 years. (Germelina Lacorte/Mindanews)