Legarda Stresses Urgency for PH to be Climate-Smart

November 22, 2017

In observance of this year’s Climate Change Consciousness Week, Senator Loren Legarda encouraged stronger convergence among national agencies, local government units, climate advocates, and stakeholders to synthesize fragmented adaptation and mitigation efforts into a cohesive action plan that will support the Philippines’ transition towards a climate-smart and climate-resilient nation.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committees on Climate Change, Finance, and Foreign Relations, made the statement in her keynote address during the event “Harmonizing Philippine Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Initiatives into the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP),” which is part of the weeklong celebration of the 2017 Climate Change Consciousness Week organized by the Climate Change Commission.

“For us, climate change is not a new phenomenon 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 of climate change,” she said.

“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,” she added.

Legarda, who was the Head of 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, reported the outcome of the climate negotiations, which included the advancement of pre-2020 implementation and ambition; dialogue on loss and damage; integration of indigenous knowledge, systems, practices, and innovations in the implementation of action plans; the protection of agriculture; and the adoption of gender action plans.

Legarda also reported that the Philippines reassured international climate allies that the country would accomplish its commitments to the Paris Agreement and that it reiterated its demand for climate justice, primarily, on the provision of technical assistance and climate finance from the developed countries.

She also cited countries that have committed to greater and more ambitious climate action, such as China and India—two of the biggest greenhouse gas emitters in the world that are already transitioning towards a clean and low-carbon development pathway—as well as Canada, France, the U.K. and New Zealand that vowed to phase out coal in their energy mix. She said that France, most especially, had pledged to fill the void that would be left by the U.S. should the latter pursue its 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,” Legarda said.

“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 would 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,” she added.

As the designated Philippine National Adaptation Plan (NAP) Champion by the UNFCCC, Legarda further emphasized the urgency of mainstreaming adaptation measures down to the local level, which includes the establishment of multi-hazard early warning systems, rainwater harvesting, seed banks, mangroves, rooftop gardens, roadside ditches, sea wall, and the conduct of drills for disaster response and preparedness.

“We should make adaptation a way of life. Adaptation is the way towards building our nation’s resilience. Adaptation should be mainstreamed at the national and local levels because it will save our lives and livelihoods,” she explained.

“Mitigation is equally important because we pursue mitigation as a function of adaptation. Our Nationally Determined Contributions (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 only 2˚C-compatible, but we will see to it that our NDC will be rated 1.5˚C-compatible,” Legarda added.

“We continue pursuing this development path consistent with 1.5 degrees because we know it is the best way to protect our people and climate, and it will also spur economic growth. 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,” Legarda concluded.