US to bring wind power project to PH, says envoy
BAGUIO CITY — The United States is bringing an offshore wind project to the Philippines to help address the extreme weather crisis that is developing globally due to climate change, US Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson said here on Thursday.
The climate crisis, Carlson said, is driving extreme weather events and the Philippines is particularly vulnerable to weather-related disasters.
Carlson, speaking at the celebration of Baguio’s 113th Foundation Day, cited the impact on Cordillera farms of Severe Tropical Storm “Florita” (international name: Ma-on) last week, saying this was a kind of vulnerability “that you know all too well right here in Baguio.”
She said the US signed a new agreement recently that would lay the groundwork for one of the first offshore wind power projects in the Philippines. This agreement is the latest in a long line of US-Philippine clean energy collaborations, she added.
“Clean energy is vital for economic growth, innovation, and [is] of course responding to the global climate crisis,” said Carlson.
She did not provide details about the agreement, but a World Bank-financed road map for Philippine offshore wind energy was launched in April that would harness 178 gigawatts of the country’s “technical offshore wind potential.”
Last month, US President Joe Biden signed his country’s Inflation Reduction Act, which has been touted as a climate change law because it provides incentives for developing green energy programs.
Carlson was this year’s Baguio Day guest speaker, as the city highlighted its American roots.
Baguio was designed by Chicago architect Daniel Burnham, founder of the City Beautiful movement, and was built from the ground up by the American colonial government in the early 1900s.
Designated as the summer capital, Baguio helped birth the country’s public government system.
The Second Philippine Commission (also known as the Taft Commission), for example, held its sessions here in 1904 to formulate public policies for what was then America’s colony. The Teachers’ Camp helped train an army of public school teachers.
“The United States has a long history in Baguio which is reflected in the streets, parks and landmarks that bear American names,” Carlson said.
But Burnham’s ideal city has evolved into a multidiverse metropolis that is distinctly Filipino, the ambassador said.
“Building on our shared legacy of a Philippine and American experience … American companies are thriving here in Baguio. Texas Instruments and Moog Controls have established high-tech manufacturing [buildings] that operate state-of-the-art facilities in the city and employ thousands of workers,” she said.
Carlson praised Baguio for working on plans to protect its Benguet pine trees, watersheds and forests.
“Forest conservation and watershed preservation are scientifically proven ways to preserve carbon sinks to mitigate climate change,” she said.
In his speech, Mayor Benjamin Magalong said the city government was “rebuilding Baguio in a far better way” to curb its projected descent into urban decay because overpopulation and overdevelopment had reduced the carrying capacity of the city’s natural resources.
Carlson also credited Magalong’s initiative to convert Baguio into an artificial intelligence-governed “smart city,” which she described as “a key development marker in meeting some of … the current and emerging security threats and cross-cutting challenges [confronting the US and the Philippines].”
“We have long shared interests and values, and we are connected by ties of family and friendships that go back generations … We welcome President Marcos Jr.’s willingness to expand this historic relationship to make it even more relevant to the shared objectives of both our peoples,” Carlson said.
This year, Army chief, Lt. Gen. Romeo Brawner Jr., joined Baguio’s outstanding citizens for 2022, the third member of his family to earn this distinction.
His late father, Court of Appeals Presiding Justice Romeo Brawner Sr., and his mother, the late University of the Philippines (UP) Baguio professor Lenora Fe Brawner who passed away last month, were also declared outstanding citizens.
Also among the outstanding citizens honored this year were former UP Baguio Chancellor Raymundo Rovillos, filmmaker Ferdinand Balanag, veteran photographer Rodolfo “Ompong” Tan, gender and juvenile justice champion Judge Mia Joy Cawed, mental health advocate and nurse Ricky Ducas, architect Dulthe Carlo Munar, and businessperson Marybeth Yu So. INQ