Environmental groups urged President Rodrigo Duterte to declare a climate emergency to ensure that the government will act on the climate crisis with the much-needed urgency he has called during the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.
"We urge President Duterte to issue an executive order to put climate action at the center of all policy decision-making from local to national level. This will ensure the Philippines' rapid and just transition to a low-carbon pathway through the phaseout of coal and fossil fuel investments," Greenpeace country director Lea Guerrero said in a statement.
"Aside from calling in countries to enhance their commitments to the Paris Agreement, the declaration must also be a call for climate justice and hold big polluters--fossil fuel and cement companies--accountable for their role in driving climate change, which has placed millions of Filipinos in vulnerable situations with loss of lives, homes and livelihoods," she added.
Guerrero said President Duterte must use this opportunity to declare a climate emergency that will enable a recovery that will transform our economy and society to tackle the climate crisis and promote positive environmental and health outcomes.
In a separate statement, Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities executive director Renato Redentor Constantino said the Philippine government displayed international leadership at the right moment by affirming the need to flatten both the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the climate curves as urgently as possible.
"Duterte’s statement underscores the need for the whole world to act in concert based on science to tackle both the climate and COVID-19 crises. Experts advise physical distancing to prevent the transmission of the virus while a vaccine is still being developed, and scientists have long said we must keep global warming below the 1.5-degrees Celsius threshold to avoid the worst impacts of climate change," he added.
He added that President Rodrigo Duterte's remarks reflect the climate and energy transition is underway not only in the Philippines but also globally.
"Solutions such as decentralized renewable energy, active mobility and sustainable transport, and mangrove and watershed management can address not only COVID-worsened public health and economic problems in the short term but also climate risks and development challenges in the long haul," he said.
"We expect Duterte's remarks to be reflected in the ongoing drafting of the country’s Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement, as well as in the national budget deliberations and the policies of the Department of Energy and Department of Transportation," he added.