Keynote Address: Harmonizing Philippine Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Initiatives into the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP)

November 20, 2017

Keynote Address of Senator Loren Legarda
Climate Change Consciousness Week
Harmonizing Philippine Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Initiatives into the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP)
November 20, 2017 ǀ Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Manila

(Standard Greetings)
It is an opportune moment for me to address the climate warriors and advocates present here today at the opening of this year’s Climate Change Consciousness Week after having led the Philippine Delegation to the 23rd Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP23) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Bonn, Germany just last week.

I address you today with a renewed sense of commitment to our climate change cause and advocacy.

In COP23, we voiced out our country’s positions and advanced our interests during the negotiations. We reassured our climate allies that we would accomplish our own commitments to the Paris Agreement. And most importantly, we reiterated to the developed countries our demand for climate justice.

It is also inspiring to listen from other countries their commitment to greater and more ambitious climate action. China and India—two of the greenhouse gas emitters in the world—are already transitioning towards a clean and low carbon development pathway. Meanwhile, Canada, France, the U.K. and New Zealand are some of the countries that vowed to phase out coal in their energy mix. France, most especially, had pledged to fill the void that would be left by the U.S. should they pursue their withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

It is in this spirit of international cooperation that we see a glimmer of hope of winning this battle against climate change. However, our determined spirit alone cannot dictate the outcome of this battle.

We have proven, time and again, that in the face of disasters, the Filipino spirit does not falter. We have manifested that in so many occasions. We are climate vulnerable, but we we have always come out stronger than before. We are resilient. But our Filipino spirit will not be enough to effectively address climate change.

We need to be smart in implementing our climate change strategies and plans. We need to have a clear picture of our climate and disaster risks. We need to take stock of our current capabilities in the areas of adaptation and mitigation, so we know what else needs to be undertaken to address our vulnerabilities. We also need to source the funds for these measures. And we need to coordinate all of this immediately and efficiently in order to protect our country and our people from the impacts of climate change.

I recognize that today’s event is to present the review of the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP), particularly, on the programs and their contribution towards achieving the goal of increasing the country’s adaptive capacity and facilitating the transition towards a climate-smart development.

As envisioned, our NCCAP essentially outlines our long-term plan for adaptation and mitigation. It will also serve as the basis for our National Adaptation Plan and our Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC)—as the Philippines’ comprehensive plans for adaptation and mitigation, respectively—both of which we intend to submit to the UNFCCC early next year.

Our NCCAP should also ensure that our adaptation and mitigation strategies are aligned with our national development plans, such as the Philippine Development Plan; and with our international commitments in the Paris Agreement, Sustainable Development Goals, and Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

My current capacity as your Chair of the Senate Committees on Finance, Climate Change, and Foreign Relations is a distinct role that has allowed me to enshrine climate and environment provisions in the General Appropriations Act. I am proud that we have been able to make our national budget a climate-sensitive budget to proactively address the impacts of climate change and extreme weather events. Aside from funding, we have included special and general provisions that will integrate disaster and climate resilience in the programs of government.

But we need to push this even more.

In COP23, I was designated by the UNFCCC as the National Adaptation Plan Champion for the Philippines. This comes with the responsibility of promoting and advancing adaptation and building resilience within our communities. This is why it was important for me to emphasize in our National Statement my commitment to achieving these objectives by mandating national agencies and local government units (LGUs) to incorporate adaptation into their projects and programs—with emphasis on our LGUs as they serve at the frontlines against climate change.

This does not mean, however, that I will solely be focused on adaptation. Mitigation is equally important because we pursue mitigation as a function of adaptation.

Our NDC will be crucial in realigning our efforts to achieve our mitigation goals, which is essentially 1.5˚C. As it is now, our NDC is 2˚C-compatible. Only Morocco and Gambia have NDCs that are compatible with 1.5˚C.

I have already committed to our climate allies that I will do everything in my power to ensure that the Philippines’ NDC will soon be rated 1.5˚C-compatible.

We continue pursuing this development path consistent with 1.5 degrees not only because we know it is the best way to protect our people and climate, but also because we know it will spur economic growth. More than just transitioning our energy sector to clean energy-powered economies, the race to 1.5˚C-compatible economies presents to the ambitious an opportunity to transform development itself.

Despite the fact that our carbon emissions are negligible compared to other countries, we do this not just for global solidarity, but also because we know that this is an opportunity for us to grow our economy.

We need climate-responsive plans and policies that would allow us to upgrade virtually all facets of our economies, which can only produce massive jobs and pump prime our economies. This can be done by first filling the staggering gap in local and national climate data through a research framework that encompasses both the rapid onset and slow onset impacts of climate change. Having a deep understanding of our vulnerabilities will enable us to plan better and smarter.

I expect that the Climate Change Commission fully understands the work cut out for them in the months ahead.

Climate change is not a new phenomenon for us anymore. We have already experienced it harshly so many times, and we have gained learning from those experiences at the expense of our fellow Filipinos’ lives. We already have extensive science and data about climate change—how it is caused and how it can impact our communities. Therefore, our actions should match the level of our understanding on climate change.

We should stop addressing climate change in isolation. Our efforts to adapt and mitigate should not be fragmented. We should foster convergences among all stakeholders, so we ensure that we have a cohesive action plan.

The scientific and research communities should strive to make their studies more accessible and understandable to the layman. They need to communicate the practical value of what they are doing, and their output should contribute to serve current and future needs and interests of our communities.

It will also be crucial if we operationalize adaptation and mitigation for the private sector to realize the benefits of climate planning and investments, and for everyone to recognize and join our mission for a nation that is climate-smart and climate-resilient.

In closing, I wish to remind everyone: We have been bearing the brunt of climate change even if we did not cause it. This is the injustice we have been fighting against. Procrastination has already claimed thousands of lives. It is time to bring the era of inaction to a close. Let our climate action plans reveal that we are firm in our resolve to deliver on our promise to save this planet for future generations and even for our own survival.

Thank you.