“The current policy of deregulating and privatizing the energy industry, in line with the goals of APEC, has placed the health, well-being, and interest of consumers second to the profit motive of energy companies.”
By DEE AYROSO
MANILA – Environmentalists and scientists scored the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) and the Aquino administration for giving only lip service to mitigate the effects of climate change, all along pushing policies that even exacerbate it.
In a protest outside the venue of the Apec Climate Change symposium at the Crowne Plaza in Ortigas, Quezon City today, Nov. 4, climate change activists said Apec pushes deregulation, liberalization and privatization of industries, including power, to ensure profits for monopoly capitalists.
“The current policy of deregulating and privatizing the energy industry, in line with the goals of APEC, has placed the health, well-being, and interest of consumers second to the profit motive of energy companies,” said Finesa Cosico, secretary-general of the Advocates of Science and Technology for the People (Agham).
“In order to extract maximum profits, these companies invest in cheap, dirty energy sources and technologies like coal while the deregulated regime allows them to jack up electricity prices at the slightest hiccup,” she added.
Cosico said Apec technocrats and ministers are “pushing for band-aid solutions,” such as climate change forecast information.
“While timely and accurate weather and climate information is very useful in mitigating the impacts of disasters brought by climate change, it is missing the entire point of global warming and its solution: we need to cut back on emissions and radically change our production and consumption patterns to truly effect a significant change,” she said.
Responses should benefit the poor
“Climate change responses must benefit the poor foremost, not energy companies or corrupt politicians,” Cosico said.
“To truly address climate change, we need to address the economic policies that keep our people poor and without the capacity to face increased hazards. This includes the predatory pricing of power companies under the privatized and deregulated energy regime. A truly sustainable energy industry can only be achieved under a nationalized energy industry which places the interest of the populace first and foremost,” she added.
Cosico said the rising global temperatures will mostly affect coastal communities, agriculture, food and water supply, and will have devastating impact on the already vulnerable sectors: farmers, fishermen and urban poor.
She cites the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which revealed that global temperatures are expected to rise by at least 3.7 degrees Celsius if GHG levels remain unaddressed.
President Aquino, meanwhile, “spouts sham pledges” to triple renewable energy capacity to reduce the country’s green house gases (GHGs) by 70 percent by year 2030.
“In reality, however, his administration has given the go-signal to construct at least 52 coal-fired power plants, one of the top polluters and sources of man-made GHG,” Cosico said. She added that all coal power plants in the country are priovately-owned either by foreign or foreign-backed corporations.
“If implemented, these coal plants will increase our energy dependency to dirty fossil fuels and increase by 50 percent our carbon emissions from coal.” In 2010, the Philippines emitted 24,947 kilotons of carbon from coal, which is 30percent of total carbon emissions.
The IPCC said 35 percent of GHGs come from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas, of which coal is the largest GHG emitter.
Anti-riot police men tried to block protesters as they tried to go near the symposium’s venue. The protest is part of the People’s Campaign Against APEC and Imperialist Globalization (PCAIG).
Since 2005, the APEC Climate Change Symposium is held annually by the APEC Climate Center. This year’s theme is “From Science to Action: The Use of Weather and Climate Information for Efficient Disaster Risk Management.”