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Legarda: Incorporate Climate and Envi-Friendly Programs in COVID-19 Rehab

April 2, 2020

Deputy Speaker and Antique Congresswoman Loren Legarda today urged governments and leaders to incorporate climate change and environmental protection initiatives into the health, social welfare, and other support and rehabilitation programs for populations and communities affected by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country and the world.

Legarda said that the health crisis—with COVID-19 cases now at over 827,000 in 205 states and deaths of more than 40,000 worldwide—gives countries the opportunity to utilize funds for support programs to further their transition towards a greener and more sustainable economy.

“The crisis we face is truly unprecedented, but we need to think deeper in finding long-term sustainable solutions, especially for the disproportionately affected poor and marginalized sectors of our society. Let us spend our public and private resources wisely to improve the quality of our lives so as to face present crises on health, climate, and environment better equipped and able to cope with the challenges,” Legarda said.

Citing an article from the World Bank, Legarda said that as governments design fiscal stimulus packages, they could also prioritize climate-smart investments in these four areas:

• Renewable energy (RE) – to improve energy security, reduce dependence on fossil fuel imports, reduce air pollution, improve health and well-being, and as renewable power plants are often more labor-intensive, generate more jobs;

• Low carbon infrastructure – to help curb greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through public transport and solid waste management, as well as promote clean and efficient energy;

• Climate change adaptation – to enhance climate resilience, while creating jobs and delivering basic needs through protective infrastructure, water and sanitation, irrigation, and ecosystem rehabilitation; and

• Maintaining carbon taxes and fuel tariffs – putting a price on the external cost of carbon emissions, to catalyze the shift towards sustainable development.

Legarda earlier called for more urban food gardens and backyard farms in households and public spaces; the promotion of renewable sources of energy to sustain the seen improvement of air quality in Metro Manila and urban regions; and stronger enforcement of laws and policies concerning the illegal wildlife trade.

She also supported the call of United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that “the recovery from the COVID-19 crisis must lead to a different economy… with a strong focus on building more equal, inclusive and sustainable economies and societies that are more resilient in the face of pandemics, climate change, and the many other global challenges we face.”

“Governments and leaders across the world must heed the call for a better and healthier planet. COVID-19 will not be the only crisis that will test our physical, emotional, and mental resolve. Let our proficiency, goodwill, compassion, and solidarity prevail in these trying times,” Legarda concluded.#