Senator Loren Legarda is confident that the Philippines can lead the fight to address climate crisis.
The lady senator issued the statement as new climate leaders emerged from the three-day training organized by The Climate Reality Project, led by its founder former US Vice President Al Gore, from March 14-16, 2016 in Manila.
“Ten years ago, climate change was considered an issue that was best left for scientists to discuss. Today, I am happy and very optimistic because we have at least 700 new climate warriors, mostly Filipinos, who will help organize action to address the climate crisis,” said Legarda, UNISDR Global Champion for Resilience and Chair of the Senate Committees on Climate Change and Finance.
“I am thankful to former Vice President Gore and his team for bringing the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training to Philippines. He has inspired Filipinos to join the global fight on the climate crisis,” she added.
In one of the training sessions, Gore lauded the Philippines for its leadership of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), which led the call to limit warming to 1.5°C during the climate negotiations in Paris last December. He said that the rest of the world listens when the Philippines speaks.
“We must use our influence to effect positive change. As I have always said, we may be vulnerable but we are not incapable. We showed that when the Philippine delegation ably led the CVF in the Paris climate negotiations. We must continue with this kind of leadership,” said Legarda.
“I enjoin all Climate Reality leaders to spread the advocacy to their communities and engage everyone to take meaningful action. A good start will be during the Earth Hour. Oftentimes, people are overwhelmed with the gargantuan task of protecting the environment, without realizing that the small acts ignite greater action and result in significant achievements,” she explained.
Earth Hour was observed on March 19, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. In previous years, the Philippines was regarded as an Earth Hour Hero Country for registering a high number of participating towns and cities and for its staunch support to the campaign.
“Even the smallest acts–ecological waste segregation, tree-growing, saving on electricity, using low carbon technologies–are important. Small acts, when put together, create big change,” Legarda said.
Towards Green Growth
Legarda also renewed her commitment to ensuring that the country will move towards green development.
She said in the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC), the Philippines committed to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 70 percent by 2030.
“It would certainly be difficult to reduce GHG emissions if we will continue to approve the construction of coal-fired power plants. Government should instead encourage the business sector to invest in renewable energy,” said Legarda.
Legarda vowed that she will push for the immediate ratification of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change when Senate resumes its session in May.
She added that the Senate will also look into establishing carbon pricing mechanisms in the country.
“To encourage and promote investments in renewable energy and bring down GHG emissions, there is a growing clamor worldwide for the implementation of carbon pricing legislation, such as emissions trading systems of carbon taxes, with producers of carbon emissions forced to pay for their activities. But we have to study these mechanisms well.”
In her proposed Senate Resolution 1732, Legarda said that in light of the developing country status of the Philippines and the pursuit of energy security, there is a need to ensure that the introduction of carbon pricing legislation is part of a wholistic approach that takes into account the impact and cost-effectiveness of other policy instruments that discourage the emission of GHG as well as policies which may inadvertently encourage emissions.
DRR as a Tool for Climate Adaptation
Legarda also reminded the government of its commitments under the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction as it turns one year on March 18.
In March 2015, nations agreed to the Sendai Framework for DRR, which gives primary importance to understanding disaster risk.
“Understanding the risk will help us know how we can effectively address it–for governments to develop the necessary programs, for legislators to create the appropriate enabling policies, for local governments to develop multi-hazard early warning systems based on the specific risk present in their communities, for the private sector to invest in risk-reduction measures, and for citizens to be proactive in helping reduce the risks,” she said.
“As a nation greatly affected by natural hazards, many of which are climate-related, we must make disaster risk reduction part of our climate change adaptation efforts. We have a lot of work to do to build resilience, to adapt to and mitigate climate change, to promote green growth, but as more people are inspired to be climate leaders, I know we will win this fight. We will overcome this climate crisis,” Legarda concluded.
‘People Power’ to Address Climate Change
In order to press leaders to act on climate change Gore urged Filipinos to use “people power” for such purpose.
According to Gore, Filipinos should organize themselves and use technology such as the social media to spread their message and express their concerns about the effects of climate change.
He pointed out that people who care about the environment should go beyond posting online comments saying that “this system can be made to work if and only if the people in this room decide to make a difference, find ways to connect with one another and use the fabled strength in number.”
He added: “Someone who has political should be in the streets knocking on doors, organizing others to create a powerful political counterweight,” he said.
For her part, Climate Change Commission Secretary Emmanuel de Guzman said the government is revisiting its climate action plan or the so-called intended nationally determined contribution to meet its targets.
“Right now, the national agencies concerned are developing their respective national roadmaps and examine existing policies to be able to really deliver the targets they set per sector and deliver the aggregate (carbon emission) reduction of 70 percent by 2030,” de Guzman said.
The Paris Agreement
In December last year, world leaders who attended the Paris climate talks reached a landmark deal that aims to hold global warming “well below” two degrees Celsius.
The aim of the Paris Conference was to come up with a response to this problem, which is threatening to wipe out the human presence in certain parts of the world.
It has been widely recognized, with unanimous agreement from scientists, that the earth’s atmosphere is growing warmer due to greenhouse gas emissions generated by human activity.
Scientists believe that a greater increase in temperature would be very dangerous.
The agreement marks a change in direction, towards a new world. It confirms the target of keeping the rise in temperature below ” two degrees Celsius.
The agreement even establishes, for the first time, that we should be aiming for 1.5°C, to protect island states, which are the most threatened by the rise in sea levels.
By 12 December 2015, 186 countries had published their action plan; each of these plans sets out the way in which they intend to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
The UN body that deals with climate change published an evaluation of these contributions on 1 November 2015.
This study showed that despite the unprecedented mobilization shown by States, at this rate global warming would still be between 2.7°C and 3°C, i.e. above the threshold set by scientists.
The Paris agreement asks all countries to review these contributions every five years from 2020; they will not be able to lower their targets and are encouraged, on the contrary, to raise them.