PH scales up climate action initiatives in 2021

Published January 23, 2022, 8:00 PM

by Chino S. Leyco

The government signaled a paradigm shift last year in the way the Philippines is tackling the worsening climate crisis sweeping the globe, President Duterte’s official representative to the Climate Change Commission (CCC) said.

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Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the government’s intensified drive versus climate change has shifted from merely theorizing and talking, to implementing practical and doable projects on the ground to adapt to, and mitigate, its destructive effects.

“What is global must now be addressed at the local level. What was theoretical now demands practical applications on the ground,” said Dominguez, who is also the CCC chairperson-designate.

The destruction wrought by typhoon “Odette” in several parts of the Visayas and Mindanao before the close of 2021 underscored the urgency of adopting the strategy against erratic weather patterns touched off by rising world temperatures, he said.

Dominguez also cited the need to continuously improve on the Philippines’ whole-of-nation approach of making climate risk information more available, understandable, and actionable in a timely manner to communities.

He underscored the importance of capacitating local governments in understanding risks and how these should be addressed by implementing effective adaptation and mitigation measures.

Shortly after Dominguez was assigned to the CCC, the Philippines transmitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in April a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).

The NDC commits the Philippines to “a projected GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions reduction and avoidance of 75 percent, of which 2.71 percent is unconditional and 72.29 percent is conditional.

However, Dominguez admitted that the Philippine government cannot achieve GHG emissions reduction target alone.

International support, especially in finance, is needed as the Philippines only accounts for 0.3 percent of the global GHG emissions yet, it suffers tremendously from the intensified typhoons, the finance chief said.

Dominguez had prodded stakeholders during the consultative meetings on the NDC to aim high in reducing the Philippines’ carbon footprint as he wants the country to be a world leader in making a difference in the battle against the climate crisis.

Localized climate adaptation and mitigation programs are vital to help “build the resilience of our communities, reverse the degradation, and protect our vital food sources,” Dominguez said.

He subsequently stressed the necessary approach to the climate crisis at the 26th Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) held in Glasgow, Scotland from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12, 2021.

Dominguez headed the Philippine delegation to COP26, the first time that a finance secretary was sent to represent the President at the global climate change conference.