MANILA - The University of the Philippines Resilience Institute (UPRI) on Wednesday urged Congress to pass a “disaster and climate emergency” declaration in the Philippines following the onslaught of Typhoon Tisoy.
UPRI called for the passage of Albay Rep. Joey Salceda’s House Resolution No. 535, which aims to declare 2020 as a “Disaster and Climate Emergency awareness year.”
The declaration is meant to jumpstart inquiries and government mobilizations to address the impacts of disasters and climate change in the country, among the world's most vulnerable to natural disasters.
“The declaration of climate emergency is for all to take seriously. This resolution is a reiteration of what we already know, that we need to do climate action and we need to do it now, no “but’s” and no “if’s,” UPRI and NOAH Center Executive Director Mahar Lagmay said in a statement.
UPRI’s statement coincided with environmental groups’ calls for serious climate action as world leaders meet in Madrid for the yearly climate change negotiations.
The Philippines is a signatory to the historic 2016 Paris climate agreement, which hopes to curb global warming levels to below 2 degrees Celsius through reducing carbon emissions.
Groups like Greenpeace have long been calling for a declaration of climate emergency in the Philippines. More than an acknowledgement of the situation in the country, an official announcement of a climate emergency could result in more action and funds allotted for mitigation and adaptation programs.
With tens of thousands of people displaced in Bicol region because of Typhoon Tisoy, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Executive Director Yeb Saño said it was high time for countries to drastically curb greenhouse gas emissions by stopping drilling, digging and burning of fossil fuels.
“We are in a climate emergency. Now more than ever is a time to act. We strongly call on our world leaders to not simply deliver speeches, instead work together to protect our people,” Sano said.
“We must use this platform to expose the climate complicity of the fossil fuel industry and take concrete actions to ensure they are accountable for the harms they cause, particularly in countries that are the most vulnerable.”
Local youth group Stewards and Volunteers for the Earth (SAVE) Philippines, in a separate statement, called on President Rodrigo Duterte to declare a climate emergency and to “amend all policies that exacerbate [the country’s] already vulnerable situation and allocate all resources for ordinary Filipinos to successfully adapt to the impacts of climate change.”
The group also demanded world leaders to hold rich developed countries accountable for their contributions to global warming. The group said those countries should be made to pay for their “climate debt” and for the “maximum reduction” of their greenhouse gas emissions.
The Philippines is among the nations that will be attending the climate negotiations in Madrid this week. Signatories of the historic Paris Agreement are supposed to update their climate pledges but the Philippines has yet to come up with its official submission.