Legarda Warns Climate Change’s Adverse Effect to Public Health at Senate Forum

November 11, 2015

Senator Loren Legarda warns that “climate change will threaten the health of the public while challenging the government as it faces conundrums that include the spreading of deadly diseases and viruses, decrease in well-being of citizens, and medical relief needed with each catastrophe.”


The statement was made at The Necessary Alternatives: Balancing
Energy, Health and the Climate Challenge Forum
 at the Senate today. The event was spearheaded by the Senate Committee on Climate Change, chaired by Legarda, in cooperation with the British Embassy Manila, and Health Care Without Harm-Asia.


The forum gathered key personalities to talk about how climate change, health and energy are interconnected. It allowed for policy makers and the public to look into the efforts of the Climate Change Commission, other involved agencies, and non-state actors in identifying areas of possible policy intervention that will help achieve the Philippines‘ Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) target of 70% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and explore areas to increase the country‘s level of mitigation.


Noted speakers are Professor Paul Wilkinson of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who discussed the implications of energy policies on health; British Ambassador Asif Ahmad who gave the keynote message; Secretary Zenaida Monsada of the Department of Energy; Undersecretary Vicente Belizario, Jr. of the Department of Health; and Cong. Ma. Lourdes Acosta-Alba, Vice Chair of the House Committee on Climate Change.


Experts from the Climate Change Commission, Energy Regulatory Commission, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, environmental and health activists as well as representatives of non-government organizations shared data and insight on the topic as well.


According to a study conducted by the World Bank, “an average global cost of adaptation in the health sector for the prevention and treatment of diarrhea and malaria alone will reach $1.3 billion to $1.6 billion per year (in 2005 dollars) over the period 2010–2050.”


Legarda pointed out that the climate crisis is related to how we access and use fossil energy. “We have made energy choices that have been detrimental to the planet and to our health.”


Strong scientific consensus points that climate change is largely the consequence of GHG emissions. These emissions largely come from human activities, including burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat, transportation, and agriculture.


The Department of Energy recently unveiled its targeted 30-30-30 rule for the country‘s energy mix with natural gas, coal and renewables having the same 30% share with the remaining 10% going towards alternative technologies.


At present, coal dominates the country‘s energy mix and accounts for 42.5% of power generated. A study by US consultancy firm IHS projects that this will rise to 56% by 2020 in light of the 23 new coal-fired power plants lined up for commercial operations in the next five years. Barring any intervention, this will further increase to 75% by 2030— the highest share of coal among countries in Asia.


“This event is an opportunity for all of us to address issues that need immediate response, and propose strategies that will help us mainstream the use of renewable energy. Clean energy is not a future concept; it is the necessary alternative if we want to live a healthy life in a world that is not decimated because of climate change, a place still conducive for our progeny to flourish,” Legarda concluded.