MANILA— House Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda urged government agencies on Tuesday to implement various environmental laws, noting that the proposed national budget supposedly does not show efforts in reducing greenhouse gases.
In a virtual forum ahead of the forthcoming United Nations 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) Legarda, an environmentalist, said she does not see the country’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gases reflected in the over P5-trillion national budget for 2021.
As part of its National Determined Contribution (NDC), the Philippines has committed to reduce greenhouse gases by 75 percent by 2030 for the sectors of agriculture, wastes, industry, transport, and energy.
Of this number, 2.71 percent is unconditional, or measures using nationally mobilized resources, and 72.29 percent is conditional, or policies and measures which require support or the means of implementation under the Paris Agreement.
“I do not see a reflection of our NDC in our National Expenditure Program in the national budget that Congress is deliberating now. It is a business as usual budget. I don’t even see it as a pandemic recovery budget," Legarda explained.
"I would like to see a pandemic recovery budget that is aligned and attuned to the climate pathway that mainstreams ecological integrity,” she said.
Legarda added that all government programs should be aligned with existing environmental laws in the country, including the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, and laws on environmental education awareness.
Aside from these, the country's projects should also take into consideration policies on renewable energy, the Climate Change Act, the establishment of the people's survival fund, and the National Integrated Protected Areas System, among others.
"It must not be just one government agency or a commission or a few agencies where people believe climate or environment affect its operations. Every aspect in the budgetary process and all programs of governments must be aligned with all environmental laws already existing, which I authored way back in 1998," said Legarda.
“We will be helping ourselves by making the whole budget be climate adaptive, climate proof, climate sensitive," she added.
Legarda stressed that while countries most affected by climate change should demand that industrialized countries deliver on their commitments under the Paris Agreement’s means of implementation, including climate finance, technology transfer, and capacity building, the Philippines should also do its part to mitigate climate change effects.
“If you look at transport and energy and agriculture, we are doing a business-as-usual scenario so what I would like to see from agencies and government is to see what we declare in the NDC and the budgets they put in their NEP, how does it align (with) this so-called ambitious NDC which to my mind and in my heart, I know, it is not an ambitious NDC as we want it to be," the lawmaker stressed.
"An NDC is not cast in stone and we know that in the coming year, I would like to be able to speak to each and every department, especially agriculture, transport, energy and environment perhaps so that we can even scale up our climate ambition," she explained.
“We must not say just because we are a non-emitter in the world that we can do a business-as-usual scenario although we must command and request and demand the industrialized nations that caused it all to comply with Paris accord."
The United Kingdom and Italy, meanwhile, expressed support to the Philippines’ efforts to achieve its commitment and hopes that the country would allow a long-term strategy for a net zero carbon emission by 2050.
The goal will align the country with other countries in Asia.
FROM OUR ARCHIVES
The UK has also committed to assist the Philippines to build resilience and accelerate transition to a low-carbon economy towards achieving the Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement through its official development assistance (ODA) that supports a wide-range of interventions related to energy, low-carbon and urban development, including transport, green finance, and environment.
The ODA includes the International Climate Fund, its Green Climate Fund contribution, Prosperity Fund, the Newton Agham Programme, and the Darwin Initiative Fund/Illegal Wildlife Trade Fund.
“The UK and Italy are committed to continuing to support the Philippines in delivery of these ambitions. We are very proud of the strong partnership that we have built in this space,” UK Ambassador to Manila Laure Beaufils said.
RAISING CLIMATE TARGETS SOUGHT
French Ambassador to Manila Michèle Boccoz also called for the raising of climate targets and strengthening of commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as she cited a United Nations report still showing warming temperatures.
Boccoz pointed out that despite “a brief dip” in carbon dioxide emissions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is “still heading for a temperature rise in excess of 3°C this century – far beyond the Paris Agreement goals of limiting global warming to well below 2°C and pursuing 1.5°C.”
“Today, we are calling for the strengthening of our commitments and the raising of our ambitions. The urgency to act has never been as important as it is today,” Boccoz said in a video message at a virtual event organized by the British Embassy.
“Climate change knows no borders. It is our belief that multilateral cooperation, together with a shared sense of responsibility, is key to ensuring a better future. It is not too late to act,” the French official added.
The Philippines is sending a delegation of 19 members to attend the COP26 in Scotland, headed by Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr.
Finance Assistance Secretary Paola Alvarez said the delegation would also include representatives from the DENR, Department of Foreign Affairs, Office of the President, Department of Energy, and the Department of Finance.
“We want to keep it as lean as possible because Glasgow and UK and UN organizers also suggest that we limit the number of people to attend due to the COVID restrictions as well,” Alvarez said.
Legarda expects the Philippines to “bring forward its commitments and deliver on them during COP26 and beyond” in implementing its NDC.
“We emphasize the importance of scale, predictability, and sustainability in climate finance in this endeavor—since our ambitious NDC also requires significant amounts of financing and resources from developed countries,” Legarda said.
Legarda added that she is looking forward to action of the Parties on calls for a five-year timeframe for the NDC and to accelerate climate action and ambition, the delivery of a Climate Emergency Pact to rebuild confidence in international climate action, and stronger capacity development to enable immediate adaptation action in vulnerable developing countries.
She also sought for “putting the brakes’ on a warming planet to limit global warming to 1.5˚C.