By Charissa Luci-Atienza
“United climate actions must now happen in an ambitious scale, scope, and speed.”
Deputy Speaker and Antique Rep. Loren Legarda emphasized this during the High Level Segment of the 25th Session of the Conference of Parties (COP 25) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Madrid, Spain.
Legarda, head of the Philippine delegation to the COP 25, challenged the developed countries to fulfill their commitments under the Paris Agreement and “uphold climate justice.”
“We urge the developed countries to rise to the 1.5 climate challenge and uphold climate justice. Deliver on your commitments in the Paris Agreement. Lead in deep and drastic cuts in carbon emissions. Deliver the finance and investments for innovative adaptation solutions in our local communities,” Legarda said in a statement delivered at the COP 25 session.
The Paris Agreement aims to limit temperature rise below the 1.5 degrees mark, which is considered as the point of no-return that could lead to irreversible damages to the environment and spell disaster to all species in the planet.
“Time slips away so swiftly. The time for action has long passed. Now is the time to catch up. Now is the time to translate words into actions,” Legarda said.
“As we end the year to welcome a new one — the year Paris Agreement will be fully enforced, let the era of procrastination, inaction, and apathy end as well. Let this end present a new beginning for humanity — a new chance to rise to the climate challenge, this time with a renewed commitment and a stronger resolve, and with a transformative and life-changing optimism,” she added.
“The latest science tells us that our options to survive and thrive are swiftly diminishing,” Legarda said.
“So in this COP, let us finish the work at hand — that which lets us translate the 1.5 Paris goal to concrete actions — the Paris rulebook,” Legarda said.
She lamented that most developing countries, grappled with the persistent problem of poverty and hunger, are having a hard time redirecting their economies toward low carbon development pathways, while surviving the increasing impacts of climate change.
“It is not easy because it requires sacrifices, lifestyle changes, and commitment to posterity. It is not easy because it requires finance, technology, and capacities. It is not easy because it requires sincerity and resolve to act boldly and decisively, which unfortunately has been sorely lacking,” she said.
She reminded that the requisites of sustainable development as concurred to by countries in Rio 27 years ago remain to beat climate change, to turn risk into resilience, and to avert future loss and damage to our vulnerable communities.
“However, the urgency of action, unequivocally, is most pronounced today than ever,” she said.
Legarda is a member of the Governing Board to the Green Climate Fund.
The committed climate finance of at least $100 billion by 2020 and every year thereafter for the adaptation and mitigation needs of developing countries must now materialize, beginning with the immediate replenishment of the Green Climate Fund, she added.
Legarda said the Philippines has been constant in its climate leadership and commitment to act on the climate emergency.
“We have mainstreamed climate change adaptation and mitigation and disaster risk reduction in our annual national budget because climate change cuts across all development concerns and trumps on our people’s basic right to food, water, health, shelter, and livelihood,” she said.
Legarda also said the Philippines has led in climate legislation which include Clean Air Act for reducing black carbon, Clean Water Act for addressing wastewater pollution, Ecological Solid Waste Management Act for reducing solid wastes, Renewable Energy Act for promoting clean, sustainable energy, our Climate Change Act for strengthening climate governance, People’s Survival Fund Act for financing local adaptation, our National Protected Areas Act for ensuring ecosystems integrity, and Green Jobs Act for pursuing just transition to a green economy.
“We also increased our excise tax on coal importation. And, recently, we enacted our Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act for the effective and judicious use of energy,” she noted.
“Despite my country’s insignificant “survival emissions” of less than half of one percent of global emissions, or 0.3% to be precise, and the burden of prevalent poverty and recurring economic losses from climate change impacts, the Philippines, constrained as we are in means and capacities, has been doing all it can to make a difference in responding to the global climate emergency,” she said.