Monday, October 1, 2007

On Renewable Energy

I was invited to the forum "International and National Responses to Climate Change –
Challenges for Energy Policy and the Promotion of Renewable Energy"
last Thursday, September 27, 6 pm at Discovery Suites, Ortigas, Pasig City.

The Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), Philippine Office, presented Mr. Rolf Hempelmann, Member of Parliament of Germany and rapporteur of the parliamentary group of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) on energy policy issues, as resource person of the said forum cum dialogue.

The forum aimed to bring together members of civil society organizations, institutes, government and business to share perspectives on how energy policy can address climate change, what role there is for renewable energy and how the generation and use of renewable energy can be promoted.

The said forum was enlightening, particularly with Mr. Hempelmann's sharing of the contemporary Gernman experience on enacting and pursuing policies towards renewable energy.

But a more important consideration which I dared to ask from (and share with the group) is the experiences and roles of organized power consumers. In a policy atmosphere dominated by lobby groups and big power corporations, consumers are often relegated into passive recipients of the rates and services pegged by such policies.

Along this line,the German experience is admittedly very different from ours. Whereas they do not have a very activist organized consumer groups, Philippine civil society draws from a long tradition of community organizing. Thus consumer rights and welfare becomes not mere matters of customer satisfaction, but important issues of political rights as well.

The quest for policies towards renewable energy in the Philippine context must build on this peculiarity. A strong civil society movement will prove to be an important deterrent to the inordinate appetite for profit among corporations, and also provide an effective check to the quality of services provided to consumers by these corporations.

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