Senator Loren Legarda’s Privilege Speech
“Environmental Protection and Climate Action Through Everyday Practice”
28 January 2015 – Senate Session Hall
In my three terms as a senator, I have stood in this chamber numerous times to speak about environmental protection, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and disaster resilience with the hope of influencing my colleagues and other leaders of the nation to include these issues in the priorities of government.
We have actually produced several relevant laws—the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Renewable Energy Act, Environmental Awareness and Education Act, Climate Change Act, the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act, and the Act Creating the People’s Survival Fund, among many others.
The number of environmental and climate change laws, however, is no guarantee for effective action. In fact, if we want our laws to be fruitful and faithfully implemented, we need to imbibe the principles behind them and translate these into action in our own daily life.
On my birthday today, I wish to share how each individual can be part of the effective implementation of our laws. I would like to share how I have incorporated my advocacies in my own home and office and daily routine. I hope this would encourage my colleagues and our citizens to see how they can adopt them in their own lifestyle.
We have to be mindful of what we eat. We should eat more local, plant-based food. It has been estimated that 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions are associated with meat consumption, and food that come from distant places utilize more energy for transportation and preservation, therefore resulting to greater carbon emission.
I plant vegetables in my garden so I am able to eat them fresh. We should encourage families to plant vegetables in their backyards or community vacant lots, or to cultivate pinakbet gardens. This way, we do not only provide food on the table, but also address the needs of growing numbers of malnourished children.
We must conserve energy. Traditional energy conservation measures remain relevant—use low-wattage appliances, turn off and unplug electronics when not in use, turn off lights when leaving a room, open curtains for natural lighting, do all the ironing at one time, avoid frequent opening of the refrigerator door and defrost it once a week, and other similar practices.
One effective way to reduce consumption of energy is through energy efficient lighting. Changing to LED light bulbs can save at least 40% energy. LEDs also have a longer lifetime and easier and cheaper to maintain.
If the government and private sector would implement energy savings and energy conservation measures, we can easily save 20–30 percent of energy consumption.
We must conserve water. In our homes, we should adopt conservation practices like gathering and storing rainwater for daily chores. Turn off faucets properly. Leaking pipes and running toilets should be repaired immediately.
In the community, water recycling facilities and rain collection systems can be built. Existing local water distribution systems must be properly maintained and watershed areas must be protected and rehabilitated.
We should always consider energy- and cost-efficient transport modes, like walking, biking, taking public transport, and carpooling, whenever possible.
I support the Bayanihan sa Daan Movement, which promotes a paradigm shift from the motor vehicle-based transportation system to a multi-modal system, wherein people are not dependent on their own motorized vehicles every time they go out, instead, they can choose different modes of transportation depending on their needs—walking or biking for short distances, and safe, reliable, inexpensive and convenient public transportation system for long distance trips.
Make our homes as green as possible. In building, designing or refurbishing our homes, we need not always buy new and expensive materials. For instance, we can build chairs, tables, cabinets and other fixtures using recycled wood.
A green design would maximize the use of natural light and wind flow, utilize passive solar heating, provide for rainwater catchment system, and use recycled materials. We should promote the “bahay kubo” concept that employs indigenous building materials surrounded by vegetables and fruit trees. As much as possible, the community layout must balance green spaces with population density.
We must practice ecological solid waste management, starting with segregation at source.
1. Every household should have:
· One (1) trash can for biodegradable and food waste;
· One (1) trash can for recyclables or residual waste;
· One (1) trash can for special or hazardous waste, busted lamps, radio and cellphone batteries; and,
· For paper that can be recycled, put paper flat in a box or in a paper bag.
2. Bring containers when going to market or the grocery to avoid using plastic bags. Reusable containers can be used in purchasing fish, meat and other poultry products; while bayong and reusable cloth bags can be used for other items.
3. Collection of all segregated waste should be done by the barangay. All waste should go to the barangay Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) for proper waste management.
Biodegradable waste goes to composting, animal feeds or biogas; while recyclables go to the junk shops.
Only residual waste should be collected by the city or municipal truck.
Special or hazardous waste will go to the city/municipal MRF for proper treatment or disposal in coordination with the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).
We should strive for a zero waste economy where the output of each resource use is converted into input for another use. We can precycle by avoiding buying unnecessary goods, repairing electronics and appliances, and patronizing recycled products. We can also develop livelihood programs using recycled waste materials.
These are just some ways by which we can make environmental protection and climate mitigation part of our daily living. These practices do not demand much from us. In fact, many of these can immediately be practiced as soon as today. It only requires both individual and collective effort. In all other aspects, it has every bit of potential to become second nature to us; we just have to take that first crucial step of actually taking action.
Mother Earth Foundation
European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines
Atty. Antonio Oposa, Jr./Bayanihan sa Daan Movement
Miriam College – Environmental Studies Institute