Transitioning the Energy Sector : A Study on the Philippines and the Challenges of Meeting International Climate Targets
Abstract: Climate change has become a catalyst for global action on greenhouse gas emissions. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change orchestrated the Paris Agreement to propel the international community towards implementing definitive carbon abatement plans. These policy commitments are known as Nationally Determined Contributions. However, as of yet many signatories to the Agreement are struggling to align their mitigation pledge with domestic policies. The energy sector is one of the key industries implicit in this carbon abatement process. New energy policies will need to be radically reoriented towards a low-carbon trajectory. In the literature, this pursuit is classed as a socio-technical transition. The Philippines is severely vulnerable to the risks posed by extreme weather patterns exaggerated by increasing temperatures. The country has actively engaged with the climate change discourse but recent trends demonstrate a reversal in low-carbon energy sector planning. Its status as an emerging economy with high potential GDP growth rates increases the urgency to act now to avoid becoming locked-in to an outdated energy system. A discourse and thematic analysis was conducted on key Philippine government texts concerning future energy policy. The approach enabled an exploration of the mechanisms underlying power sector governance in the context of the Paris Agreement. The multi-level perspective provided a conceptual framework for the findings, and enabled the identification of relationships and antagonism within discourses linked to energy system. This framework breaks down the system into three tiers and facilitates analysis of the interplay between landscape pressures, regime resistance and niche experimentation. The results indicated a disparity between the two government agencies on the necessity of low-carbon sector planning. The Philippine Climate Change Commission correlated the benefits of carbon abatement much more closely with the wider goals of sustainable development. The department of energy meanwhile advocated fossil fuel capacity building to meet economic requirements. Divergence in storylines led to a poor alignment between domestic energy policy and the aims of the Paris Agreement. An appreciation of the barriers to a unified overarching mitigation discourse, will assist in the creation of long-term abatement strategies required by the Paris Agreement.
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