Catholic Church leaders in the central Philippine province of Negros Oriental welcomed the passage of a resolution declaring the province a “clean and renewable energy (RE) province.”
The resolution, which was signed by provincial governor Roel Decamo on January 11, was formally announced in an online forum on January 28.
It mandates all local government units and power investors “to pursue the promotion, development, and utilization of indigenous renewable energy resources.”
The resolution orders strict regulation and “eventually ending” the use of all fossil fuels for energy needs. It also prohibits the construction of fossil fuel-fired power plants in the province.
Church leaders described it as “a pro-people and pro-environment act” of the province.
Bishop Julito Cortes of Dumaguete said the resolution is a move toward “a healthful and futuristic endeavor for a clean environment.”
The prelate said his diocese supports the “clean environment move” of the provincial government, adding that it will further reduce the carbon footprint in the province.
“The future is open for further development in the energy sector of the island, thus promoting a healthier and progressive community of people, and the environment,” he said.
Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos also welcomed the new code, saying that it “ensures that the welfare of our people, environment and climate are not compromised by political whims, short-term gains, and self-interests of the few.”
The prelate praised the people of Negros who “took down at least five coal-fired power plant projects proposed in various towns across this island” in over two decades.
Negros island, about 845 kilometers south of Manila, is dubbed as the “renewable energy capital” of the country because of its renewable energy installed capacity and abundant renewable energy resources.
In total, renewable energy comprises 95 percent of the island’s Installed Capacity Mix, with solar power having the biggest share at 47 percent.
A study released in September 2020 noted that Negros has the potential to lead in the country’s transition to renewable energy amid a worsening climate crisis.
The study titled “REpower Negros: A Scoping Study of Negros Island’s Power Sector Transformation” said that “a 100 percent renewable energy-powered Negros” is possible.
Rodne Galicha, executive director of Living Laudato Si Philippines and convenor of Aksyon Klima, said the new code is a victory for poor communities and for the environment.