Hypocrisy aside | Inquirer Opinion

Hypocrisy aside

/ 12:18 AM September 30, 2016

At the recent inauguration of a coal-fired power plant in Misamis Oriental, President Duterte once again slammed what he called the hypocrisy of developed nations regarding fossil fuels. He pointed out that while highly industrialized nations strongly push to reduce carbon emissions by lowering the use of nonrenewable energy sources, these very nations themselves are the foremost users of fossil fuels.

This “stupid inconsistency” thus creates a double standard that limits developing countries like the Philippines from moving forward with industrialization. The Philippines has to keep up, the President emphasized, and our main option right now is to keep using coal.

It is difficult not to hear what the President is saying and not to feel at least a tad indignant about how the call for lower emissions applies to every country regardless of its specific energy situation. Nations like China, the United States, and the European Union-28 rank way up in carbon dioxide emissions, each producing millions of kilotons of CO2 per year.


The Philippines, meanwhile, is not even in the top 40, producing only about 97,000 kilotons in 2014.


With our development agenda relying on energy, not to mention our power supply issues still persisting, we might indeed be prompted to ask: Why should we have to limit our use of traditional fuels in the same way China or the United States should? We have coal—it is cheap, it is locally available, it is traditionally workable. It meets most of our power demands. Why should we have to constrict our use of it when we need it?

The answer is because it is our obligation to the planet—an obligation much bigger than pointing fingers and pinning blame. The effort against climate change is and should be collective. There is no other way to truly mitigate it.

If being in solidarity with the world is not enough reason to join the effort, if we can’t bear to do the right thing just because we see others having more than we do, then perhaps we can just do it for our own sake. The effects of climate change can, after all, be felt all around the world, including on our own turf. Especially on our own turf. Our archipelago is among the most vulnerable to the drastic impacts of climate change. It is our own shame if we don’t at least do something against that.

Certainly, there are appropriate venues to challenge what we see as the hypocrisy of  industrialized nations on the use of nonrenewable energy. It is even our responsibility to call them out on it. Developing nations like ours often sharply feel the bearing of global polic—on the environment as well as on other matters. It only makes sense that we voice out what we see as inequity in such policies.

But even while we challenge developing nations on their stance on energy, we cannot abandon our share of the obligation. We cannot keep forever using the excuse that we need coal, when other developing countries have already found ways to reduce their use of it.

Our country’s current administration is known for its strong political will. Imagine the impact this strong will would make if it were to be seriously used to advocate for clean energy. On this front, we are currently set back by political and technological hurdles, but give it the firm resolve of true leaders and we’re bound to see great leaps. This can begin only when we stop turning our back to our obligation, when we stop trying to justify our inaction by crying “It’s not our fault.”


Climate change is a reality we have to address whether or not it is “our fault.” Because if we don’t, it will catch up with us—whether or not it is our fault. Hypocrisy aside, blame game aside, resentment aside, we need to work on solutions together. This takes all nations. Yes, including the Philippines.

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TAGS: fossil fuels, hypocrisy, President Duterte

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