MANILA – An environmental group on Tuesday made a fresh call to President Rodrigo Duterte to declare a national climate emergency following a spate of typhoons that has brought massive flooding in parts of Luzon.
Greenpeace Philippines country director Lea Guerrero called for a more comprehensive approach in addressing the climate crisis, as the Philippines is among the most susceptible countries to hazards brought about by climate change.
"The climate crisis is here to stay. It will be part of the future of the country. This is the new normal,” she told ANC’s “Matters of Fact”.
“Unless we have plans that are comprehensive and that are forward-looking like planning for long term… we'll be stuck in a cycle of just responding to every disaster that comes in and it’s not sustainable.”
Extreme weather events such as the strengthening of typhoons are among things linked to climate change and the worsening global warming.
While there have been efforts in addressing the effects of climate crisis, Guerrero noted that the focus of present and past administrations had always been on post-disaster response.
“There hasn’t been a big effort for a lot of administrations to really address issues such as the country's coal use, fossil fuel use,” she said.
Instead of creating task forces or ad hoc committees in dealing with disasters, Greenpeace proposed the strengthening existing protocols such as typhoon response.
“We don't need a national task force to keep on responding to everything that’s happening in localized places. But we need LGUs (local government units) to have more capacity, to have more resources to be able to determine the risks and manage the risks in their localities,” Guerrero said.
Other issues that must be addressed by the climate emergency declaration is holding fossil fuel and cement companies responsible for human-induced carbon emissions. Dozens of these companies are already the subject of a climate change inquiry of the Commission of Human Rights (CHR).
The group also urged the Philippine government to hold other nations accountable for having the most greenhouse gas emissions.
“What’s happening right now to the Philippines is not something we're responsible for. We're one of the least, the smallest contributors,” Guerrero said.
“We do need that action from outside to make sure this global problem is solved not just for the Philippines, but for developing nations that are reeling under the impacts of climate crisis.”