Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has called on the Climate Change Commission (CCC) to sustain President Duterte’s call for climate justice before the international community as the Philippines continues to bear the devastating impact of global warming even though it remains among the world’s lowest emitters of greenhouse gases.
Dominguez also challenged the CCC to aggressively advocate and put forward concrete policy proposals for the protection of the environment while building public awareness and support about these initiatives.
The recent spate of super typhoons and floods that occurred in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic underscore the urgency and complexity of the CCC’s tasks, he said.
But the COVID-19-induced crisis can also be used as an opportunity to tailor the country’s economic recovery programs to mobilize investments in domestic renewable energy, sustainable urban planning and climate-smart agriculture, said Dominguez, who was recently appointed by President Duterte as chairman of the CCC.
“Even as we transition to more sustainable economic activities domestically, the Philippines must sustain calls for broader climate justice. President Duterte has already led the way. We in government must stand firmly behind the President in this fight,” said Dominguez in his pre-recorded message to the CCC as it celebrated the 13th Climate Change Consciousness Week.
“The Philippines is well-positioned to make a difference in this battle against the climate crisis. Let us work hand in hand to achieve a new, low carbon economy and a greener future for all,” Dominguez added.
At the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit last Nov. 12, President Duterte called on other vulnerable countries like the Philippines to demand climate justice from developed nations, which are the most responsible for fueling the climate crisis.
The President said at the annual summit that developed countries must lead in effecting deep and drastic cuts in carbon emissions.
Dominguez recalled that since last month, five strong typhoons battered 12 of the country’s 17 regions; claimed dozens of lives; and damaged billions of pesos worth of infrastructure, crops, livelihoods and properties.
Unless all concerned sectors move fast to implement mitigation measures, he said these human, social and economic costs will continue to accumulate and dampen the country’s economic progress.
“Evidence-informed climate action is crucial to providing a safe, comfortable life for every law-abiding Filipino. We need to put forward stronger adaptation and mitigation measures to ensure that Filipinos will not just survive, but thrive in the new and resilient economy,” Dominguez said.
“We can address the climate emergency better and with a more informed approach. Unlike COVID-19 that caught the world off-guard, we have a wealth of information and innovative solutions to deal with the climate crisis. We must be prepared to save lives and prevent the worst possible outcomes,” he said.
Dominguez said the government must ensure the coherence of climate adaptation and mitigation strategies, as well as programs on disaster risk reduction and sustainable development, at both the national and local government levels.
“We must deploy financial tools to build resiliency from the household to the national levels. We must widen the inclusivity of our financial system to mobilize investment and protect families,” Dominguez added.
He said the government’s rule should be simple: “projects that are not green and sustainable should not see the light of day.”
Dominguez cited, for instance, the need to make the restoration and conservation of existing forests an integral part of the country’s disaster risk reduction strategy.
“It is time to update our agroforestry policies to prevent the clearing of mountain slopes to make way for agriculture,” he added.