ELEVENTH HOUR: Will the Philippines elect leaders who truly understand the climate and environmental crises?

Published March 31, 2022, 6:58 PM

by Climate Reality Project Philippines

In less than two months, the 2022 National Elections will take place. Supporters of candidates in national and local positions are getting louder on social media and the ground. However, concrete platforms to address the prevailing climate and environmental crises are yet to be discussed in full swing. Looming questions pop up: Can the next set of leaders address the need to embed climate action and sustainability in our national and local economic development plans?

The science has never been this clear. The latest reports released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that the climate crisis was unequivocally caused by human activities and that the costs of climate inaction are becoming unbearable for millions of people.

The latest reports also warned that even though we limit global warming to 1.5°C—the global warming threshold enshrined in the Paris Agreement—the world we live in will never be the same. There will be more extreme weather events. Weather patterns will change thereby affecting food production. Sea level rise will continue to threaten coastal communities. 

Although it only accounts for about 0.3 percent of global emissions, the Philippines is extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and disasters. Just last year, Typhoon Odette submerged many of our communities in Visayas and Mindanao, resulting in billions worth of damages to agriculture and infrastructure. (Climate Reality PH/ Unsplashed)

In April last year, the government submitted the country’s first Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) under the Paris Agreement to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The NDCs are documents submitted by the Parties to the Paris Agreement that embody their commitment to reduce national emissions in line with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. They are submitted every five years to the UNFCCC Secretariat, with the expectation that successive NDCs will reflect a progression compared to the previous one.

The Philippines’ first NDC conveyed that the country shall endeavor to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent, 2.71 percent of which is unconditional, from 2020 to 2030, in the sectors of agriculture, waste, industry, transport, and energy.

While this pledge is already on record, the next administration must develop a comprehensive roadmap for implementing our NDC—one that maps out detailed plans, timetables, and required financing for the country’s transition to a low-carbon economy, including strategies for accessing international climate finance and low-carbon technologies.

Even though it is considered the biggest threat to humanity, the climate crisis is not discussed enough during presidential debates and other political discourses. (Photo by Avito Dalan as published by the Philippine News Agency)

This goes to say that, in choosing the next president, senators, and even local officials, we must probe into how much they understand that the climate crisis is the biggest threat to humanity today and that accelerating renewable energy development in the country is key not just to achieving climate resilience and sustainability but also to putting an end to our longstanding problem of expensive, unreliable, and mostly imported energy.

The upcoming elections will dictate who will lead the country in a decisive decade for climate action. If no action is taken during the decade, science is telling us that global temperatures could rise to 3.2°C this century—a reality that brings more wide-ranging, catastrophic, and destructive impacts across the globe.

This means that the Filipino people should ensure that our next leaders would be those who value science and evidence-based policymaking, decision-making, and program implementation and those who can represent us really well during global climate change negotiations.

We must choose leaders who can stand and fight for climate and the environment, leaders who will not base their decisions on their personal interests, and leaders who will stand up for the marginalized sectors of society who happen to be the most vulnerable. This is the only favor we can give to our only home and the generations that will come after us.

About the author

Laurice T. Aquino is a Climate Reality Leader and works in the development sector of Christian faith-based INGOs that care for children and humanity. An environmentalist by heart, she is keen to explore more knowledge in terms of climate change especially in dealing with its effects on the most vulnerable, as well as on how global cooperation could bring long-term solutions to this problem. 

Kristine Galang is currently the Communicatios Lead of The Climate Reality Project Philippines. Before joining the Branch in 2021, she worked as the speechwriter of the former vice chairperson of the Climate Change Commission, where she gained an in-depth understanding of climate change issues in the country. She was also part of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office under the previous administration.

 
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