Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Energy is eternal delight

Makati City Hall

“Addressing Climate Change through Energy Efficiency Investments”
Message by
Hon. Naderev M. Saño
Climate Change Commission
February 2, 2011

Honorable Mayor Junjun Binay
His Excellency Ambassador Stephen Lillie

Distinguished guests, colleagues in public service, esteemed friends from the academe, comrades from civil society, fellow stewards of nature, believers in community empowerment, friends, ladies and gentlemen …

A pleasant morning to everyone. Magandang umaga po. Isang maka-kalikasang umaga sa inyong lahat.

At the onset, please allow me to thank the British Embassy and the City of Makati for inviting the Climate Change Commission on the occasion of this very timely and noteworthy Forum.

The international community continues to reflect on the planetary crisis as many communities around the world continue to confront the impacts of climate change. The political debate was directed towards finding a global agreement at the Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico last December. There was significant progress, not the least towards recognizing the importance of  global and local actions especially in the context of the intensifying impacts of climate change.

It goes without saying that climate change is the greatest challenge that humanity faces. When faced with a challenge, we attempt to find answers and I would view this Forum as an excellent opportunity for us to engage in meaningful conversation on the ways to move forward. 

Today, we find ourselves still with a lot of questions and we are constantly on the search for solutions.

Our common pursuit of solutions brings us to a situation where we need to innovate. And innovation means not being trapped in the same fame of mind that created the problem in the first place.

This Forum, “Addressing Climate Change through Energy Efficiency Investments” serves as a venue for us to take into context both developmental and environmental challenges, and promote innovation. If you want to understand the word “innovation”, just look around us. – Makati is a City with tremendous examples of innovation.  

This Conference is indeed timely in the face of the complex web of crises that we confront as a nation, as a global community. It is timely in the face of increasing resource scarcity, wide-spread poverty, and heightened risk to disasters.

One important question that we need to constantly ask ourselves is “In the face of climate change, do I want to see positive change for our country?”

Consider this – 2010 rivals 1998 as the hottest year on record. In no uncertain terms, climate change is upon us and is wreaking havoc of unimaginable proportions.

So, before we go foraging for solutions, it is also important for us to understand what the climate change crisis is all about – its root causes, its impacts. To borrow the words of Shakespeare, “The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars but in ourselves.”

It is also important to plan based on the future, not just on the past. Will we have enough food and water? Will we have sufficient energy to pursue our development aspirations? Will we be able to achieve lasting peace for our people? What about progress? Security? What does the future hold for us?

For the Climate Change Commission, it is a matter of national survival.
And I cannot overemphasize the need to understand the kind of changes that we are confronting.

Friends, climate change is such a complex issue that it cuts across all sectors. It practically affects everything we do. And in the same manner, everything we do affects the way the climate behaves.

Take for instance ENERGY – In our everyday life, in our day to day boring, or exciting existence, we consume tremendous amounts of energy.
By virtue of the laws of physics, we cannot really do anything without energy.

You see, our life is about consumption – or at least that is what it has become.

Consumption of Natural Resources and of course Energy.
Conventionally, ENERGY, as you have learned in high school and college physics, is DEFINED as “the ability to do work”. Hmmm. The ability to do work. In other words, if you remember high school physics, force times distance – to exert a force on a mass and push it over a distance. Now, although this definition is perfectly valid and of course extremely useful because it leads to a quantitative method of measuring the magnitude of certain kinds of energy. (I think the engineers and geeks and nerds in the room can relate to this). "However, its unconscious implications are starkly reductionistic/simplistic." (from Technology Revolution)

Energy could very well be the ability to slap a friend on the back, to enjoy a bottle of beer, or be creative and make love, for all these require energy for their performance. But alas it is not.

Instead, and significantly, ENERGY is the name given for our ability to do work – to do our JOBS properly – fulfill production quotas, to justify our existence – in mainly ECONOMIC terms. It would be hard to think of a definition better suited to underpinning the puritanical, life-repressing, goal-seeking, industrial civilization in which so many millions of us are compelled to subsist today.

Consider an alternative definition of energy.  ‘Energy,’ said William Blake, “is eternal delight.

Now you don’t have to be a poet to appreciate that this is a better definition than your definition in your physics text book. Blake’s definition expresses, with exquisite conciseness, the non-utilitarian, joyful aspect of energy as we actually FEEL it in our lives. What am I saying? We need to have a concept of energy that achieves a FUSION of the practical and poetic aspects. A concept that reminds us that, for instance, a solar panel or a wind turbine is not just an alternative way of bringing light to our homes, but a constant reminder of our living dependence on the benevolence of the sun. When we ride a bicycle or an e-jeepney, it is a constant reminder of our freedom of movement and liberty to explore our world without hurting the Earth and compromising human well-being.

We should always have a diversified mosaic of energy sources – utilizing, as it were all of the forces of Nature so that they interplay with our lives. In this way, we can develop a more respectful – even reverential – attitude towards Nature

Keeping the essential poetics of energy firmly fixed in our minds, then, let us turn back to the physics of the subject. [One of the most important physical principles relating to energy is the Law of Conservation of Energy, also known as the First Law of Thermodynamics.

The 1st Law states that energy in the Universe is neither created nor destroyed. Energy may change in form – from gravitational energy and mechanical energy through electrical energy and chemical energy to light energy, heat energy and numerous other disguises – but the total amount of energy in the Universe stays the same.

Another key principle is the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. According to the 2nd Law, each form of energy possesses a characteristic known as ENTROPY. The entropy of an energy form is inversely proportional to the temperature associated with that form, and is a measure of its degree of disorder. ]

The practical implication of the Laws of  Thermodynamics is that it’s very important to MATCH the ENERGY sources CAREFULLY to the tasks they are to perform.


And that is why this Forum is very timely and significant, as we launch the Market Feasibility for Energy Efficiency Investments for the Philippines. This milestone will go a long way in ensuring that we shape the future in a way that transforms challenges into opportunities.

But as we pursue investments to address climate change, we need to constantly remind ourselves that the climate crisis is not one that is merely environmental – it will have dire consequences on all aspects of our lives.

As such, it would be worthwhile to highlight what the Commission believes our country should do in the face of climate change.

As a matter of strategic priority, We have to…

Ensure food security
Prepare communities against risks
Restore Natural Productivity
Build Natural Resilience of Ecosystems
Be more energy efficient
Curb reliance on fossil fuels

We need not look far to find the answers. Ours is a nation blessed with great people, abundant natural wealth, and renewable resources.

But we need to change the way we look at development. We have to arrest the decline of our environment and address poverty.

So what can we do? We are gathered today to provide one of the many answers to pursuing sustainability. And that can be as simple as…Changing a light bulb. Or changing long-held habits. Like turning off lights when nobody is using them. Or as grand as designing a super-efficient skyscraper.

As I mentioned earlier, we need not go far. And Makati can be proud of the examples of innovation. Take the case of the Enterprise Tower. It harnesses the power of the wind and ensures efficient use of energy by maximizing the blow of the airconditioning. This is just one example. 

Makati has led the way and it is about time the whole country responds to the call.
Now innovation is not just about technology. It is also about attitudes. And the courage to embrace change.

The fastest growing occupation health hazard is RSI. The main culprit – the keyboard. (Explain QWERTY and DVORAK). Dvorak being 40-50% more efficient than Qwerty.
Addressing the climate change crisis means EMBRACING CHANGE.

After all, the stone age did not end because we ran out of stones. So, the fossil fuel age should not have to end until we have squeezed the last drop of oil. We can start now.

Allow me also to take this opportunity to highlight what the Philippines has done to respond to the climate change challenge, particularly in the context of reducing risk from the adverse impacts of climate change.

In 2009, through the stewardship of Senator Loren Legarda, the Philippine Congress enacted Republic Act 9729 which established the policy framework for climate change in the Philippines, created the Climate Change Commission, and mandated institutions to craft the NFSCC and the NCCAP, which are essentially our nation’s blueprint for survival, which are being formulated together with a broad range of stakeholders. All of these are being pursued with a firm focus on ensuring climate change adaptation for our country.

NFSCC – Mitigation-Adaptation
Energy Efficiency
Vision, Goal
Vision: A climate risk-resilient Philippines with healthy, safe, prosperous and self-reliant communities, and thriving and productive ecosystems
Goal:  To build the adaptive capacity of communities and increase the resilience of natural ecosystems to climate change, and optimize mitigation opportunities towards sustainable development

Our sustainable energy paradigm should be one that pushes efficiency to greater bounds and one that is made compatible with a sustainable renewable energy context.
 Let’s go back to our question: Do I want to see positive change for our country?
We are all here on a mission. A mission to change the way we look at the future of this country.

Are we ready? {explain traffic light syndrome)

Is it possible? “It always seems impossible, until it’s done.” -Nelson Mandela


In this context of the vision we have set, we are pleased to note that Makati continues to lead the way, and Vice President Binay had the courage to start it all even when just a very few local government leaders seemed to be responding to the challenge. Now Mayor Junjun continues the quest for solutions. And with this cooperation between local government and our friends from the Embassy, we hope that this Forum would open more doors in the area of energy efficiency innovations.

After all, as my favorite novelist put it, “no power on Earth can stop an idea whose time has come.”

We are elated to note that there is a rapidly growing climate change constituency in our country, including in the area of energy sector transformation. I wish to also recognize the strong support and active involvement of the government, under the leadership of President Aquino,  and that of local government units led by visionary leaders such as Mayor Binay, to our efforts to fight climate change. 

This is a battle we cannot afford to lose. 

[Manny Pacquiao slide]. Can we win this ultimate battle? Together, we will.

On behalf of the Climate Change Commission, I congratulate the City of Makati and the British Embassy for this Forum and for the continued commitment to innovation.

With this, I wish you all a fruitful discussion and a lot of meaningful conversation this morning.  

Maraming salamat po at Mabuhay po kayong lahat! 

with British Ambassador Hon. Stephen Lillie

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