Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said Tuesday the Philippines will share the inroads it has made in translating theories on addressing climate change into actionable projects on the ground with other countries, especially its fellow members in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), to help accelerate adaptation and mitigation efforts meant to avert catastrophic global heating.
Dominguez said ASEAN countries, which, like the Philippines, are highly vulnerable to the adverse effects of global warming, “must vigorously escalate” their respective mitigation and adaptation initiatives and “immediately move to concrete steps to save the planet.”
With the Philippines sinking at a rate four times faster than the global average and confronted with increasingly more severe typhoons, and other extreme weather events, Dominguez said the country wants to set a clear example of how a highly vulnerable country can move ahead with its climate action ambition.
“We are most open to sharing expertise, best practices, and technologies with the rest of the region. We hope our initiatives could be replicated and scaled by other countries,” Dominguez said during the 3rd Climate Smart and Disaster-Resilient ASEAN (CSDRA).
“The Philippines will do all these with a great sense of urgency. We see global warming as an existential threat to our archipelago. We will respond to the challenge with everything we have,” added Dominguez, who is also chairperson-designate of the Climate Change Commission (CCC) and head of the Philippine delegation in the recent 26th United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) held in Glasgow, Scotland.
The two-day CSDRA virtual conference aims to bring together leading academic scientists, researchers, scholars, government agencies, non-government organizations, and other stakeholders to share their experiences and research results on aspects of climate change and disaster risks in South East Asia.
As a new entrant to the Climate Change Performance Index (CCPI), the Philippines at No. 23 has outperformed its peers in the Asia-Pacific Region in terms of climate protection performance.
The CCPI tracks the performance of 63 countries and the European Union (EU) on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, renewable energy (RE) use and climate policy.
At the CSDRA forum, Dominguez shared some of the initiatives that the Philippines is currently undertaking to move ahead with its climate ambition, which include the launching of its Sustainable Finance Roadmap to provide a masterplan that will create a synergy between public and private investments in greening the financial system, and the planned issuance of its first-ever sovereign green bonds.
Dominguez pointed out that the country is ahead in the use of climate finance, with Philippine companies having issued US$4.8 billion-worth of ASEAN-labelled Green, Social and Sustainability (GSS) bonds since 2019.
This figure is equivalent to 29 percent of the current total ASEAN-labelled GSS Bond issuances, the highest in the ASEAN region.
Dominguez said the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Indonesia and the Philippines have also launched a partnership for the trailblazing Energy Transition Mechanism (ETM) that will hasten the retirement of coal plants in the country and the shift to clean and renewable energy sources using an equitable, scalable and market-based approach.
The ETM project aims to bring together financial resources from multilateral banks, private institutional investors, philanthropic contributions and long-term investors to trigger the Philippines’ decisive shift towards de-carbonization, Dominguez said.
“This is a model of cooperation that may be replicated elsewhere in the world where multilateral finance institutions, governments, and the private sector are aligned in their climate resiliency goals,” he said.
On Dominguez’s initiative, the CCC has put together a group of national technical experts who represent all corners of the Philippines to advise the Commission and engage fishers and farmers in local communities to prepare them to adapt and mitigate the impacts of global warming.
To show to the world how the Philippines is acting with urgency, Dominguez said it has committed to reduce its GHG emissions by 75 percent in 2030–one of the most ambitious Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) put forward by any country—even though it is one of the lowest GHG emitters at only 0.3 percent of the world’s total.
He said the Philippines has also been active in representing the position of developing countries in various meetings and forums at the two-week COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland.
“The Philippine delegation to COP26 was insistent that those who have emitted and continue to emit the most greenhouse gases must bear the largest financial burden in our transition to carbon neutrality. This is the essence of climate justice that the most vulnerable countries have long been fighting for,” Dominguez said.
He also emphasized during the COP26 global conference that the Philippines will not wait for the Western countries to get their act together and fulfill its financing pledges to developing countries.
“We are moving ahead with the implementation of actual projects on the ground to enable us to meet our commitments,” Dominguez said.
Given that implementing projects on the ground require funding, Dominguez said the Philippines placed a spotlight on the true concept of climate finance, which should be a mix of grants for capacity building; investments for green projects; and subsidies that should address the financial costs and risks of communities transitioning to a climate-resilient economy.
Dominguez said the UN climate change conference has failed to take this concept of climate finance into account for over two decades now.
“As these funds are ultimately from taxpayers, accountability and transparency are paramount to ensure the prudent use of such aid,” he said.
The three major multilateral development banks (MDBs)—World Bank Group (WBG), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and ADB—could set the standards for transparency and accountability for green projects across the region and work together with other institutions in ensuring that such standards and guidelines are adopted, Dominguez said.
This recommendation forms part of Dominguez’s proposal to the three MDBs to work more closely and build processes together that will ensure harmonized guidelines to determine the viability and sustainability of climate projects.
Dominguez said the extensive monitoring and well-established vetting processes of the MDBs now place them in the best position to provide the seals of good housekeeping to help catalyze the flow of private-sector funds to the projects of developing countries.
“With this reinvention of the current standards, the multilateral banks can play a pivotal role in mobilizing the trillions of dollars in private sector financing available for climate adaptation and mitigation projects,” Dominguez said.