As the Group of Seven (G7) Summit in Hiroshima beg, energy advocacy groups challenged host country Japan to stop blocking the energy transition of climate-vulnerable countries like the Philippines through promoting and clinging on continued fossil fuel dependence.
Japan is the world's biggest provider of public finance for fossil fuels globally, and is a key figure in massive expansion plans for new liquefied natural gas (LNG) power and importation in the Philippines.
"All possibility of stopping global temperatures from rising beyond 1.5°C is rapidly depleting, no thanks to countries like Japan who make way for continued fossil fuel dependence globally. In the Philippines, many communities live with fear that they would be tied to decades of pollution and worse climate change impacts because of the massive fleet of fossil gas and LNG plants and terminals planned all over the country. We will be vigilant in pushing back against these because there clearly is no space for gas in a livable future," said Bishop Gerry Alminaza, convenor of WagGas and bishop of the Diocese of San Carlos in Negros Occidental. WagGas is a network of communities host to fossil gas projects, civil society, and faith-based formations seeking to halt the detrimental proliferation of fossil gas in the country.
San Carlos is the site of a 300 MW proposed LNG plant by San Miguel Corporation (SMC), the country's biggest gas developer which is also backed by Japanese institutions like the Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation.
Geared with a Voltes V-themed mascot, the groups challenged Japan to turn itself into a clean energy hero instead of acting as a climate and energy transition villain. While promoting LNG - with government-owned Japan Bank for International Cooperation, for example, serving as the biggest financer of gas in the Philippines since 2016 - Japan is also advocating for technologies seeking to prolong the use of existing fossil fuel assets despite high risks and costs, such as co-firing ammonia in coal-fired power plants.
"Japan can claim all it wants that its push for gas is to promote energy security and economic development, but its true energy agenda can't help but shine through: to cling to its fossil fuel obsession while forcing others to do the same. In the Philippines, Japan is driving us away from a swift energy transition while acting as culprit to the looming destruction of the biodiversity hotspot Verde Island Passage - our Amazon of the oceans - by supporting gas and LNG projects in its vicinity. It’s bad enough that Japan fueled coal’s proliferation in the last decade; we won’t let it steal our 100% renewable energy future for the second time with gas," said Gerry Arances, Convenor of energy advocacy and consumer rights group P4P and co-convenor of WagGas.
The groups raised alarm that the push for expanded dependence on gas, coal, and other fossil fuels in the Philippines would be costly not only to climate imperatives, but also to the pockets of consumers. On average, the cost of power generation from LNG is estimated to be at Php 16/kWh - a far cry from the Php 3 to 4 offered by renewables in green energy auctions.
"The ridiculously high prices of electricity that we pay for today did not just happen overnight - it's the result of years and years of insistence by companies and governments to source the power made available to our homes from costly coal and gas. Depending on imported LNG means even more expensive energy at a time of already rising costs of living. Consumers should not be made to keep emptying our pockets for fossil fuel costs passed on to us when other options are actually available," said labor leader Ka Leody De Guzman of Partido Lakas ng Masa and Bukluran ng Manggagawamg Pilipino.
The groups challenged Japan and other G7 leaders not to be a disappointment and to deliver summit outcomes that are climate-aligned and in favor of advancing clean and affordable energy from renewables.
"Japan and G7 must end their fossil fuel addiction. G7 nations owe it to Filipinos and all other peoples disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis to end financing for fossil fuels and to hasten their phase-out. At the same time, G7 must ensure the delivery of climate finance due to us as the Philippines seeks to move forward with its transition to renewable energy, which communities across the country have long been demanding," said Manjette Lopez, National President of Sanlakas.