Legarda urges Filipino youth to be leaders in climate action

December 14, 2020

MANILA, 14 December 2020 — Deputy Speaker and Antique Representative Loren Legarda today called on the youth to use their power to spark movement and raise awareness on environmental justice, sustainability, and climate action.

Legarda made the call during her virtual speech titled “On Climate Action and Accountability: The Journey Towards Environmental Justice” at the EcoSummit 2020: The First National Youth Environmental Forum organized by the official student government of Ateneo de Davao University.

“Our country is no stranger to the impacts of climate change. But averting loss and damage and coping in the aftermath of these extreme weather events, which have become more intense and damaging in the last decade, are an additional burden against limited resources of a developing, fast growing nation. Climate-related disasters are undoing years of development gains,” Legarda stressed.

The Philippines was recently hit by typhoons Quinta, Rolly, and Ulysses in the past months, which massively destroyed infrastructure and agricultural lands and submerged the communities in floodwater. It ranked fourth among countries most affected by climate change from 1999 to 2018 in the 2020 Global Climate Risk Index by the Germanwatch. An annual average of 0.5% of GDP has been lost due to climate change impacts.

Coupled with the challenges of COVID-19, Legarda said that the country needed to push for a pandemic recovery that also strives for climate resilience in order to protect vulnerable communities.

“As we have declared in the Global Commission on Adaptation, the matter of accelerating adaptation measures has also never been more important. Climate shocks are happening now, intersecting with and exacerbating impacts of COVID-19. Building resilience to climate impacts will be critical to response and recovery efforts. We have been on the receiving end of extreme weather events at the expense of our fellow Filipinos’ lives, livelihoods, and resources,” added Legarda.

Legarda also co-authored House Resolution No. 1377 declaring a climate and environmental emergency to ensure “enhanced and coherent climate actions in the executive and legislative agenda of the government,” which was sponsored by the House Committee on Climate Change and unanimously approved by the House of Representatives on November 25, 2020.

“In the name of climate justice, we will continue calling for greater leadership and action from the developed countries that have caused this climate crisis. Climate justice is to demand for what is right and just for the Filipinos. It is to improve our capacity to adapt and mitigate. It is to commit to upholding the right of every Filipino to a better life,” Legarda said.

“But within our country, we also need to exhibit leadership and action. We need to build on our progress so far and identify gaps within our systems in order to spur and normalize climate action on the ground and down to the last mile,” Legarda added.

Citing the 2017 Philippine Climate Change Assessment Report of the Climate Change Commission and PAGASA projections, Legarda said that regions in the Philippines, including Mindanao, are experiencing seasonal aridity and recurrent droughts and manifest conditions and effects of desertification processes, and will continue to experience large decreases in rainfall and longer drier periods which will affect the amount of water in watersheds and dams, thereby limiting agricultural and energy production.

The observed temperature in the country is projected to increase by as much as 0.9°C to 2.3°C by 2050, entailing drastic changes in weather patterns, increase in frequency, intensity and duration of floods, and increase in frequency and intensity of droughts, according to PAGASA,

Sea level rise in the country is projected to be at 60 centimeters or three times the global average of 19 centimeters, with 60 percent of local government units at risk to storm surges, flashfloods, and saltwater intrusion.

“These and many more are a stark reminder that climate change is a clear and present threat to the lives of all Filipinos, particularly our most vulnerable sectors of our society. I am talking about our local communities, the lumad, farmers, fisherfolks, persons with disabilities, women, children, and the elderly,” Legarda emphasized.

Legarda underscored the need for participation of all sectors, especially the youth, in addressing the climate emergency. Legarda then challenged the youth to raise awareness, inspire people, and find solutions to the emerging challenges of the world today.

“Our youth will not just simply inherit this world. You are part of this process of building our nation and our planet. You have the passion, skills, creativity, and energy to effect positive change. You are not just the leaders of tomorrow. You are already the leaders of today,” Legarda concluded. ###