Government gets praise and censure on climate investment
Sustainable programs need to be better promoted
Climate campaigners hailed the government yesterday for its "exemplary" effort in combating the effects of climate change and making communities ready to face its impacts.
“But there’s still a lot to be done,” said Renato Redentor Constantino, executive director of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC).
Constantino, former climate campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said the Philippine government was on the right track when it allocated US$315 million for climate change adaptation and mitigation next year.
"The response to climate change is about finance and it requires nothing less than a redesign of the country's investment agenda," Constantino told ucanews.com.
He said the success of government intervention on the issue is tied directly to how closely and comprehensively government will integrate climate change in its planning and budgetary processes.
He said government must also do more than pay lip service to local needs. "Local input must become a key driver and designer of national plans," Constantino said.
Mary Ann Lucille Sering of the government's Climate Change Commission said the monetary allocation next year would be used to enhance geo-hazard maps, early warning systems and other infrastructure to improve capacity to reduce risks.
"We should now consciously consider the impacts of the changing climate in all government planning as a proactive approach to development," she said.
The large budget allocation shows that “climate change is now a top priority of the government,” she added.
Constantino said prioritizing climate change mitigation sends a message to developed countries that the Philippines is taking “the necessary steps to protect our people, despite our meager resources and despite the miniscule role the Philippines has played in fomenting climate chaos."
However, the praise comes a day after Greenpeace took the country’s energy minister, Jericho Petilla, to task for the government’s position on solar power investment.
Since the passage of the country's Renewable Energy Law in 2008, Greenpeace has been advocating an "energy evolution" scenario for the Philippines, where a massive shift to renewable energy and energy efficiency measures would wean the country away from the rising costs of fossil fuels.
But the group pointed out that the Energy Ministry has failed to slow the approval of coal-based power plants while at the same time not approving new solar power installations.
The 2013 Global Climate Risk Index put the Philippines in fourth place among more than 190 countries that have suffered the most extreme weather events, such as flooding and storms over the past 20 years.
The United Nations in its latest report on disaster risk reduction ranked the Philippines as the third most vulnerable country in the world.
Sering, however, said the government "cannot and should not meet the climate change challenge on its own."
She said "meaningful, critical collaboration" with civil society groups, academics and members of the private sector is vital.
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