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Greeneration Summit: A National Gathering for Youth Empowerment on Climate Change

November 22, 2012

Keynote Speech
Greeneration Summit: A National Gathering for Youth Empowerment on Climate Change
Manila Hotel
November 22, 2012

A 4-degree Celsius world may have seem impossible twenty years ago, but today, the World Bank warned us that we are in fact nearing a crisis that if not responded proactively, will continue to endanger the survival of this and the next generation.[1]

According to the World Bank report, the worse impacts of a 4-degree Celsius global temperature would likely happen if nations would not comply with their commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Such warmer climate would increase sea level by up to 3 feet. Furthermore, it would cause flooding in many coastal cities; dry regions are expected to become dryer while wet regions will be wetter; there will be extreme heat waves, water scarcity, stronger tropical cyclones, and loss of biodiversity.

In the wake of the warming climate, we urge industrialized nations to put up funds for the Green Climate Fund, which is expected to provide $100 billion per year for climate change adaptation by 2020.

It is important to realize that the changing climate will have its worse effects on the poor, a sector continuously aggravated by the lack of systematic and meritocratic system.
During the 17th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Durban, South Africa, there were 35 industrialized countries that agreed to extend the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012. While this might be a welcome development, the agreement is said to cover less than 15% of global emissions, and as such, would not prevent the world from reaching 3.5 degrees Celsius, which dangerously above the 2 degrees acceptable limit.

If global mean temperatures exceed 1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, 30% of all species will face a high risk of extinction. [2]
Furthermore, due to changes in temperature, rain fall and sea level, crop yield is estimated to decline by 19% in Asia toward the end of the century and rice yield, by about 75%. A 2 to 4-degree Celsius rise in global temperature will also lead to a 3% decline in global GDP.

Here in our country, through the Philippine Climate Change Act of 2009 and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, which I both authored, proactive climate change and disaster preparedness measures were legislated. In the Philippine Senate, we have institutionalized a Committee on Climate Change, which I chair, to ensure the implementation of laws as well as the sustainability of initiatives for climate change adaptation.

We have also successfully ushered the passage of the People’s Survival Fund Law, and we hope it will be funded in the 2013 General Appropriations Act.
I am also unrelenting in pushing for the full implementation of our major environmental laws: the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Solid Waste Management Act, and the Renewable Energy Act.

But beyond our respective countries, the world must act more swiftly, more wisely, and more decisively to build resilience to disasters.

Reducing disaster risks is a matter of high importance to the world now, especially to developing countries where disaster risks abound, and to the poor and the marginalized who are most affected by disasters.

The issue of the environment cuts across age, gender, or ethnicity, and without a united front against disasters and climate change, we could do little to minimize risks.
Now is the time to redefine development – to change our way of thinking and our way of doing, and give nothing less than our wholehearted commitment to a safer world, a more resilient human society for many generations to come.

Thank you very much and I wish all of you an enlightening and productive summit.

[1] http://climatechange.worldbank.org/content/climate-change-report-warns-dramatically-warmer-world-century
[2] United Nations