The current pandemic has not and will not slow down the government’s response to climate change, according to Carlos Dominguez, Department of Finance secretary.
Dominguez pointed out while the coronavirus pandemic is a major crisis being faced right now, the bigger and longer problem that will affect many generations is the issue of climate change.
“The pandemic is a problem, it is true, it has lasted for two years, but this climate change issues that we have to face will affect the next generations,” Dominguez said in a virtual briefing yesterday.
“We are very concerned, precisely that we have to really boost up our responses to the climate change and the way to do that is to gather a panel of experts who will actually help us implement climate change mitigation and adaptation,” he added.
Dominguez said the new composition of the Climate Change Commission’s (CCC) panel of technical experts mirrors the Philippines’ paradigm shift in its stepped-up drive to combat climate change, which will now move from merely delving on theories to actually implementing on the ground “practical and achievable” applications to help reverse the “apocalyptic course” of global warming.
To mobilize people to help save the planet from the worsening environmental crisis, the CCC will have to implement at the local level “achievable” mitigation and adaptation programs that will help “build the resilience of our communities, reverse the degradation, and protect our vital food sources,” Dominguez said.
He said the CCC’s reconstituted 16-member National Panel of Technical Experts (NPTE) will provide the practical advice urgently needed by the climate change body to be able to effectively implement these programs and will help engage and educate local communities in adopting them.
Dominguez called for the reconstitution of the NPTE following the Philippines’ declaration of its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent over the next decade as its Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement.
“We will achieve that commitment. To do so, we need to implement achievable programs on the ground. We need to convince our people that climate change is reversible if we all act together and begin reducing our own carbon footprint,” Dominguez said.
Meanwhile, Dominguez was asked about the government’s move if the panel finds it necessary to regulate activities of investors on carbon emissions, and how he plans to balance the interests of both environment and businesses, to which he said: “That is a very difficult question to answer because balancing interests, the need for our growth and the need to protect our environment, are at the heart of governance, and that is why we have these experts to advise us how to move ahead.”
“The Philippine government is already looking at a possibility of reducing the reliance in Mindanao on coal fired energy, as we increase the capacity of the Agus river system. We are working with the Asian Development Bank and the private sector to put up a fund in which we’ll invest in and buy out the coal fired plants and start mothballing them or repurposing them as the capacity of the Agus river system increases,” Dominguez said.
– Angela Celis