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Legarda on 24 Hours of Reality: Authorities Must Embrace Climate Adaptation As If Their Lives Depended On It

December 5, 2017

“All government agencies and local government units must embrace climate change adaptation as if their own lives depended on it,” said Senator Loren Legarda today, during her feature interview on the “24 Hours of Reality: Be the Voice of Reality” program organized by The Climate Reality Project—the organization founded and led by global climate advocate and former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committees on Finance, Climate Change, and Foreign Relations; UNISDR Global Champion for Resilience; and UNFCCC Adaptation Champion, is among the climate change experts and advocates from various countries all over the world featured in the 24-hour, star-studded global broadcast to discuss the climate crisis and call for action.

During the Philippine Hour, which aired on December 5, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. (PHT) and focused on the theme of climate justice, Legarda emphasized the need for adaptation, especially for a highly vulnerable country like the Philippines, in order to protect Filipinos whose lives are constantly in danger because of climate change impacts.

“In the Philippines, we have institutionalized adaptation in our policies and budget. As Chair of Finance and Climate Change committees in the Senate, I have included special and general provisions in our General Appropriations Act that mandate our government agencies to implement projects and programs that will make our communities more resilient to climate change impacts,” Legarda explained.

“Never has it happened before that our annual budget actually operationalizes and explains the necessary adaptation measures that the government departments and agencies should implement,” she added.

Among the adaptation measures Legarda cited are the installation of rainwater collectors in communities, homes and buildings; establishment of early warning systems interpreted in the vernacular; propagation of mangroves as effective natural buffers from storm surges; and the retrofitting of public and private infrastructure to adapt to extreme weather events, among others.

Legarda also mentioned that she had encouraged the Armed Forced of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), as first responders and frontliners in times of disasters, to make their camps more resilient. She also said that the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NDRRM) Act and the Climate Change Act are landmark laws hailed by the United Nations as two of the best laws in the world, but would be merely ink on paper if not operationalized.

Legarda also said that she had been encouraging Filipinos to “carbon fast” or to lead a low carbon lifestyle. She said that the Philippines, despite having a negligible amount of carbon footprint compared to other countries, must still pursue climate change mitigation.

“I have been encouraging Filipinos to carbon fast. To walk when possible, to take a bike, to turn off the lights, to shut off the aircon, to pull the plugs when not needed—simple, basic ways to conserve energy and reduce carbon emissions. This call to carbon fast started during Holy Week years ago, but it is something that we should adopt as a lifestyle. We encourage mitigation because we pursue mitigation as a function of adaptation,” she stressed.

Legarda emphasized that the way forward for sustainable development in the Philippines is to proceed with the transition to a low carbon economy, especially since the country has a renewable energy law.

She noted that the transition to a low carbon economy would not hinder our country’s growth. She said that our growth would become more sustainable if we utilize renewable energy and pursue low carbon innovations and investments.

“Hastening our transition to renewable energy would provide so much opportunities for all Filipinos. For a tropical country like ours, access to the sun and wind is free. Back in 2008, it seemed impossible to implement renewable energy, but now, we have seen installations increase, with hundreds of megawatts of solar and wind in excess of the targets back then,” she said.

“The painful transition from using fossil fuel to renewable energy is a great challenge, but it is one that we should encourage in order to have a cleaner, safer, and more livable country for us and the future generations,” Legarda concluded.