Fossil Fuels Excluded from New Green Taxonomy 

The Philippines has taken a significant step in shaping the future of sustainable finance in the Philippines by excluding fossil fuels from its green finance definitions while not categorizing waste-to-energy (WtE) projects as high-risk. This decision reflects a nuanced approach to addressing the country’s energy and waste management challenges, emphasizing environmental sustainability without outright banning technologies that could offer solutions to pressing issues. 

The draft sustainable finance framework aligns with a global shift towards more environmentally responsible investing, excluding activities related to the exploration, production, transportation of fossil fuels, and extractive mining from being labeled as “social and green”. However, it stops short of implementing a managed coal phase-out, a move that has seen varying degrees of commitment across Southeast Asia. 

The proposed taxonomy employs a traffic light system to classify activities based on their environmental impact, with categories ranging from green for sustainable activities to red for those causing significant harm. This system, mirroring those used in Singapore, Indonesia, and by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), offers a clear guideline for stakeholders to align their investments with environmental objectives. 

The decision to not mark WtE as high-risk has sparked debate among environmental groups, with concerns over the potential harmful emissions from burning fossil-based waste materials. Critics argue that despite advancements in pollution control technology, WtE projects could still emit toxic by-products like dioxins, posing long-term environmental and health risks. This concern is compounded by the Philippines’ strict Clean Air Act, which prohibits waste burning that results in toxic fumes, although proponents of WtE contend that modern technologies can mitigate these emissions effectively. 

The WtE technology, widely adopted in countries like Japan, South Korea, and parts of Europe, is seen as a viable solution to the twin challenges of waste management and sustainable energy production in Southeast Asia. In regions plagued by significant ocean pollution and ineffective waste management systems, WtE offers a path to both reducing waste volumes and generating renewable energy. The new framework suggests a willingness to explore such technologies, provided they are implemented with necessary environmental safeguards. 

However, the draft framework’s provision allowing activities causing significant harm to be classified as amber if they commit to remedial measures within five years has been criticized as overly lenient. This period is deemed too extended by some, who argue it might enable environmentally damaging practices to continue under the guise of a transition to greener alternatives. 

In conclusion, the decision to exclude fossil fuels from its green finance framework while cautiously approaching WtE projects reflects a balanced attempt to foster sustainable development in the Philippines. By encouraging investment in renewable energy and waste management solutions, this policy could significantly contribute to the country’s environmental sustainability goals. However, the success of WtE as a component of the Philippines’ green energy strategy hinges on the careful implementation of technologies that minimize health and environmental risks. Ensuring that WtE projects adhere to strict environmental standards will be crucial in maximizing their benefits and aligning them with the country’s broader sustainability objectives. 

WOIMA’s offering to the small-to-medium-scale WtE market, the pre-engineered, prefabricated, and modular wasteWOIMA® WtE plant, is a robust grate-fired solution for combusting different waste streams to energy. A single boiler island (WOIMAline) wasteWOIMA® plant uses roughly 40,000 to 50,000 tons of waste fuel per annum. Several WOIMAlines can be integrated to create a larger power plant. It  adheres completely with the strict European Union Emission Directive reducing emissions to practically zero.  

Read more about the Philippines new approach here 



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