Speech: We Are Stepping Up Climate Ambition

May 8, 2018

Speech of Senator Loren Legarda
We Are Stepping Up Climate Ambition
08 May 2018 | Bonn, Germany

The Philippines was part of the founding of the Climate Vulnerable Forum in 2009, when we organized the CVF’s first set of its activities with then President Nasheed of the Maldives. Our goal remains the same. To act not as a negotiating body but as a voice for positive change, reflecting not only the urgency of the climate crisis but the opportunity to deliver lasting gains to our long suffering peoples. To survive and thrive.

This is the reason why the CVF fought to ensure the goal of keeping global temperatures to within the 1.5°Celsius threshold was enshrined in the Paris Agreement. Because hundreds of millions face an existential threat if we fail to act on climate change decisively. And also because the climate crisis presents an opportunity for real transformation.

Our economies can meet inclusive long-term development goals without harming the ability of future generations to prosper and experience unfettered joy and without harming the ability of ecosystems to regenerate.

With the IPCC Special 1.5°C report coming out in October, policy-makers will have even more reason to elevate and use scientific findings to confront reality about the potential impacts of climate change on people, communities and the environment.

Let’s make one thing very clear: current NDCs will not limit the global temperature to the Vulnerable Countries’ goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius. Current NDCs on the table submitted by countries in 2015 in the lead up to COP21 would take us to at least a +3°C temperature increase. This is simply unacceptable. We have an urgent need to enhance these NDCs. We must be bold.

To vulnerable countries like the Philippines, the NDC is our industrial and economic resilience strategy. We know slow and rapid onset impacts are a material risk to our economy and our people. We have to realize what is good for our economy in terms of higher efficiency and continued growth.

In the face of rapidly declining costs and technological advances in renewable energy and storage, reliance on fossil fuels makes less and less sense. It is time to realize the pace of technological advancements and its impact on advancing the transition to a low-carbon economy – electricity should no longer be expensive. A more competitive market will go a long way towards the low-carbon economy transition, thus delivering cheaper, more reliable power for all, as well as delivers significant contributions in advancing the goals of the Paris Agreement.

We will endeavor to enhance our NDCs through enhanced policies to enable market-driven ambitious sectoral targets. To be clear, the Filipino people and the Philippine economy will not and should not be held hostage by stranded coal assets. The public and our economy will no longer pay for poor and weak energy policy. We will level the playing field by removing subsidies and policies that perpetuate market distortions that allow the continued growth of the high polluting coal industry.

With cheaper electricity comes the ability to electrify the transportation system. Public mass transport must prioritize the needs of commuters and pedestrian who make up a vast majority of the population. The public mass transport system will contribute to significant gains in terms of avoided greenhouse gas emissions.

Local ambition and national capacity is key. But, to enable this we must use the momentum of the Talanoa Dialogue to finish a strong Rulebook by COP24. A robust rulebook is important to drive local ambition towards market and non-market approaches to reduce emissions, compliance, and predictability of finance.

Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committees on Foreign Relations, Finance and Climate Change, UNISDR Global Champion for Resilience, and UNFCCC National Adaptation Plan Champion, is the Head of the Philippine Delegation to the 48th Session of the Subsidiary Bodies of the UNFCCC in Bonn, Germany.