Lawmakers urged to prioritize, strengthen RE Bill

Manila, 15 November 2006—Christmas will be brighter with the prioritization of the Renewable Energy (RE) Bill, Greenpeace said today at the lighting of the first-ever solar-powered Christmas tree in the House of Representatives. The tree, which runs on clean, renewable energy from the sun, was lit by Congressmen Lorenzo Tañada III (4th District, Quezon) and Nerius Acosta, Jr (1st District, Bukidnon) who joined Greenpeace in urging the Senate to prioritize the passage of the Renewable Energy (RE) Bill as a measure to ensure the country’s energy security and to combat the grave impacts of climate change certain to create serious repercussions on the country’s ailing economy.

Greenpeace was in the House of Representatives to engage lawmakers in their ‘Pilipinas, Go Renewable’ campaign which calls for a massive uptake of renewable energy to combat climate change. Last week, the environmental group was at the Philippine Senate to call for support for a stronger renewable energy bill from senators. The RE Bill was passed by Congress last September but it has yet to move in the Senate where it is currently in the Committee on Energy. Unfortunately, the bill was removed from the list of priority legislations for 2006 during the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) meeting despite the support of several senators, including Senate President Manny Villar.

“Climate change has been acknowledged by experts as the greatest threat that our world faces today. It poses an even greater threat to developing countries like ours. Renewable energy solutions are in our reach but for these to work we need to act immediately. Prioritizing the RE Bill is the first crucial step,” said Rep. Tañada, who, with Rep. Acosta, is one of the bill’s authors.

The Christmas tree lighting was one of the highlights of Greenpeace’s activities in the Congress which included an exhibit of climate change impacts and solutions, and featured a solar-powered café where one of Time Magazine’s Asian Heroes for 2003, celebrity Chin Chin Gutierrez, served coffee to members of the Lower House. During today’s activity, congress representatives also symbolized their support for renewable energy by hanging decorations symbolizing wind and solar power on the 12-foot Christmas Tree at the session hall lobby. The event was accompanied by carols from a choir and included the participation of grade six pupils from Multiple Intelligence School in Quezon City.

The young students called on lawmakers to make a difference by prioritizing the RE Bill. “I am only 12 years old, but already I have witnessed major disasters due to climate change,” said Lorenzo Armovit.

Along with their call to fast-track the passage of the RE Bill, Greenpeace is pushing for the inclusion of important time bound targets for the bill to be most effective in its objective to fight climate change and ensure the country’s energy security. In order for RE technologies to gain a foothold in the Philippine power sector, Greenpeace says it is both necessary and urgent that the country adopts a renewable energy policy that has ambitious and time bound targets as well as a proven mechanism that genuinely promotes the massive utilization of clean energy. Greenpeace is calling on the Philippine government to source at least 10% of the country’s energy needs from renewable sources such as wind, solar, and modern biomass by the year 2010.

“The moral obligation—and economic imperative—for our government to stop climate change has never been more clear,” said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Campaigns Director Von Hernandez. “The question now isn’t whether climate change should be among the country’s urgent concerns, but how soon we can embrace immediate and concrete measures to stop this impending catastrophe and secure a safe future for our children.”

Greenpeace is an independent, campaigning organization which uses non-violent, creative confrontation to expose global environment problems, and to force the solutions which are essential to a green and peaceful future.

For more information:
Von Hernandez, Campaigns Director, +63 917 526 3050
Jasper Inventor, Climate and Energy Campaigner, +63 917 300 9567
Lea Guerrero, Media Campaigner, +63 916 374 4969, +63 2 434 7034 loc 104