Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu on Wednesday said addressing climate change remains a top priority of the government, maintaining it is a bigger crisis than COVID-19.
Cimatu, who chairs the Cabinet Cluster on Climate Change Adaptation, Mitigation and Disaster Risk Reduction (CCAM-DRR), made this clear during his presentation of the 2020 Pre-State of the Nation Address Report of the Cabinet Cluster on CCAM-DRR dubbed as “Pagkalinga Tungo sa Katatagan” on July 22 insisting, “Climate emergency remains as urgent as ever. It is like the COVID-19 emergency, just in slow motion and much graver.”
He explained changes in climate have a multiplier effect, leading to other problems, from ecosystem stability to food production and human conflict.
Cimatu said the government will use the COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to accelerate climate action by formulating “responses to the worst public health crisis of this generation through a climate lens.”
“The government—through the Cabinet Cluster on CCAM-DRR—will prioritize actions and investments that will reduce long-term health impacts and increase our resilience and adaptive capacity to both the coronavirus pandemic and climate change,” Cimatu said.
Climate crisis and COVID responses should heed science
Climate Change Commission (CCC) Secretary Emmanuel De Guzman echoed Cimatu’s statement saying climate change is “an urgent global concern, an existential threat, and a life-and-death issue.”
“Like our response to COVID, we must heed science in responding to the climate crisis. Kailangan natin ibangon muli ang ating ekonomiya mula sa dagok ng pandemya nang mas matatag kaysa dati. (We need to rebuild our economy from the pandemic blow more firmly than ever before). We cannot just go back to business-as-usual, vulnerable and defenseless against the next pandemic or global disruption,” De Guzman said.
“This is how we have been approaching green recovery in the CCAM-DRR. Our green recovery program shall uphold the health of the people and the planet. It shall let us survive and thrive amid climate change. Sa layuning ito binabalangkas ng climate change and nationally determined contributions or NDC. Ito ang susi sa ating green recovery. (For this purpose, climate change and nationally determined contributions or NDC are outlined. This is the key to our green recovery). The NDC which embodies our climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies will give us clean air and healthy environment. It wil deliver green investments and green jobs to our countryside. It will let our sectors and industries transform into a green economy. In short, it will pave our country’s sustainable future,” he added.
Strengthening disaster response, environmental protection
He added CCAM-DRR will continue to respond to extreme weather events and disasters; increase adaptive capacities of vulnerable communities; ensure adequate supply of clean air, water and natural resources; and increase resilience of critical infrastructure.
He also noted that there is a need for major environmental protection programs like solid waste management, reforestation and biodiversity conservation consistent with the overall response to COVID-19, future pandemics, and climate crisis.
“High volumes of hazardous waste and the dramatic spread of zoonotic diseases account to the growing challenges that the government has to face to help alleviate problems in this deadly pandemic,” Cimatu said.
Created under Executive Order 24, Series of 2017, the Cabinet Cluster on CCAM-DRR is mandated to focus on the protection and conservation of the environment and natural resources, and serves as a venue for discussing inter-related concerns on climate change and disaster risk management.
The cluster also takes the lead in the effective integration of policies and programs on climate risk management, disaster risk reduction and sustainable development.