The Philippines must sustain calls for broader climate justice, even as the country transitions to more sustainable economic activities domestically, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said in a statement yesterday.
Dominguez has urged the Climate Change Commission (CCC) to help the country pursue climate justice from the international community.
“The Philippines is definitely not one of the world’s heaviest emitters of greenhouse gases, but it is undoubtedly among the most vulnerable to their harmful effects,” Dominguez, who was recently appointed as chairman of the CCC, said yesterday.
He also challenged the CCC to more aggressively advocate for the protection of the environment.
“It should advance concrete policy proposals while building public awareness and public support,” Dominguez said in his pre-recorded message to the CCC as it celebrated the 13th Climate Change Consciousness Week.
He added the recent spate of super typhoons and floods that occurred in the midst of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic underscore the urgency and complexity of the CCC’s tasks.
But the COVID-19-induced crisis can also be used as an opportunity to tailor the country’s economic recovery programs to mobilize investments in domestic renewable energy, sustainable urban planning and climate-smart agriculture, Dominguez said.
“The Philippines is well-positioned to make a difference in this battle against the climate crisis. Let us work hand in hand to achieve a new, low carbon economy and a greener future for all,” he said.
Dominguez recalled that since last month, five strong typhoons battered 12 of the country’s 17 regions; claimed dozens of lives; and damaged billions of pesos worth of infrastructure, crops, livelihoods and properties.
Unless all concerned sectors move fast to implement mitigation measures, he said these human, social and economic costs will continue to accumulate and dampen the country’s economic progress.
“Evidence-informed climate action is crucial to providing a safe, comfortable life for every law-abiding Filipino. We need to put forward stronger adaptation and mitigation measures to ensure that Filipinos will not just survive, but thrive in the new and resilient economy,” Dominguez said.
“We can address the climate emergency better and with a more informed approach. Unlike COVID-19 that caught the world off-guard, we have a wealth of information and innovative solutions to deal with the climate crisis. We must be prepared to save lives and prevent the worst possible outcomes,” he added.
He said the government must ensure the coherence of climate adaptation and mitigation strategies, as well as programs on disaster risk reduction and sustainable development, at both the national and local government levels.
“We must deploy financial tools to build resiliency from the household to the national levels. We must widen the inclusivity of our financial system to mobilize investment and protect families,” Dominguez said.
He said the government’s rule should be simple: “projects that are not green and sustainable should not see the light of day.”
Dominguez cited, for instance, the need to make the restoration and conservation of existing forests an integral part of the country’s disaster risk reduction strategy.
“It is time to update our agroforestry policies to prevent the clearing of mountain slopes to make way for agriculture,” he said. – A. Celis