Winning the climate fight is the new business norm
EDC’s 232.5MW Malitbog Geothermal Power Plant in Leyte is one of the world’s largest geothermal plants.
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Winning the climate fight is the new business norm

Dulce Sanchez (The Philippine Star) - September 18, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — One Filipino company is making a herculean effort to stave off climate change by focusing on developing renewable sources of energy in a manner that leaves little to no carbon footprint.

Energy Development Corp. (EDC) has been pioneering sustainable practices since 1976 and is now the largest producer of geothermal energy in the Philippines and one of the world’s largest too.

It is no mean feat to produce 1,475 megawatts of geothermal, wind, hydroelectric and solar energy—and to achieve the status of a carbon negative company at the same time. A carbon negative entity removes more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than it produces.

“We achieve this through generating green energy and improving our energy efficiency, as well as through our greening programs that contribute to greater carbon sequestration and help us fight climate change (GOAL 13),” EDC wrote in its 2018 Performance Report which provides an insight on the firm’s contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In the report, EDC explained that the heart of its business is sustainability. The company’s primary focus has always been to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all (GOAL 7).  EDC also complies with GOALS 4 (Quality Education), 5 (Gender Equality), 13 (Climate Action), and 15 (Life on Land).

“We implement environmental and social programs across all our business units to not just enhance the natural ecosystem, but also to uplift the lives of the members of our host communities,” it said.

EDC added that it also continues to invest in low-carbon energy solutions to encourage consumers to make sustainable choices for the country and ensure that future generations of Filipinos “can still enjoy the beauty and benefits of our natural heritage.”

The firm warned that the whole world is experiencing the effects of climate change. By 2100, if carbon emissions are not curbed, 74%of the world’s population and 47% of its land area will be exposed to lethal temperatures, EDC said.

“The science is clear: the more frequent and intense heat waves are a direct result of human-induced climate change. We must act now to curb emissions,” it said.

96 flagship Philippine native tree species are being grown and propagated in EDC’s Vegetative Material Reproduction automated nursery facilities in Negros and Antipolo City as part of its BINHI greening legacy program.

Environmental management

Over the years, EDC’s environmental stewardship program across all its project sites has evolved to enhance its impact in areas where it operates.

“While the renewable energy we produce is cleaner than traditional energy sources, we remain committed to environmental responsibility through our programs and initiatives that help us manage and reduce the negative environmental impacts of our operations. This includes our continuing efforts to monitor and manage our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other significant air pollutants, as well as our waste generation and water withdrawal,” according to the report.

EDC is certified against ISO 140001:2015 (Environmental Management System) in two of its facilities, Mount Apo Geothermal Project and Southern Negros Geothermal Project. All its environmental and geoscientific laboratories are also accredited for ISO/IEC 17025.

On water use, EDC extracts water mainly for power plant operations and sometimes for geothermal well drilling. In the cascading hydropower plant in Nueva Ecija, surface water is used prior to the release for irrigation. For offices and solar farm project (cleaning), the firm purchases water from third-party providers.

Soon, the firm will fully adopt and integrate the Environmental Management System (ISO 14001:2015) for its BacMan and Leyte geothermal power plants, enabling each facility to improve on materials and waste management.

“We manage and monitor our waste, from its generation on-site to its disposal. Our Pollution Control Officers, who are accredited by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), are responsible for our monthly waste monitoring, which they then report to the DENR on a quarterly basis,” read the report.

Lastly, on watershed management and biodiversity protection, EDC currently protects four geothermal reservations, which comprise almost one percent of the Philippines’ land area.

The firm takes pride in its in-house experts and specialists that implement a comprehensive Biodiversity Conservation and Management Program (BCMP) and its BINHI greening legacy program that has been restoring forests in its areas of operation and bringing back to abundance 96 flagship Philippine native trees for over 10 years.

To date, EDC has already restored 9,323 hectares of denuded forests from 2008 to 2018 with the help of its 88 farmers associations in its geothermal areas in Leyte, Negros Island, Bicol, and North Cotabato.

EDC’s 150MW wind and 6.8MW solar farm is the fi rst combined RE facility in the country.

Beacon of sustainability

EDC is guided by its mother company First Philippine Holdings’ sustainability framework, which recognizes that their business’ health depends on the health of the environment and of the society and communities with which they share the environment.

EDC Chairman and CEO Federico Lopez, in his message included in the performance report, said humans “urgently need to overhaul how we relate with the Earth if we want to keep it habitable for humans in the decades to come. We don’t have a choice. There is no Plan B or planet B, as some would say.”

He noted that Pricewaterhouse Coopers—a global network of firms that delivers assurance, tax and consulting services—warned that the world needs to keep global temperature from rising to less than two degrees Celsius. To do so, citizens need to reduce the “carbon intensity of the economy,” which is the amount of carbon emitted per dollar of gross domestic product, by 6% each year until 2100.

“Although this number looks modest, it is nine times the current rate of improvement being experienced in the world today; this only underscores the magnitude of the transformation needed,” Lopez said.

For EDC president and COO Richard Tantoco, what motivates the firm’s officials and employees is that scientists remain optimistic that the growth of renewable energy is a reason to believe that the world can achieve the necessary reductions in factors that contribute to climate change.

He cited the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s findings that indicate the world may only have until 2030 to avert “catastrophic climate change.”

According to Tantoco, carbon emissions increased in 2018 by another two percent from the previous year.

The urgent need to act “continues to motivate us to do things better, to make a difference toward turning the tide,” he said.
Tantoco said that over the past five years, EDC and the rest of the Lopez group of companies decided to be leaders in the country’s business sector in sounding the warning about the worsening effects of climate change and the need for decisive action and enlightened choices.

“We know the pivot will not be easy, especially in the face of significant vested interests,” he said.

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