MANILA, Philippines – Nations worldwide are set to celebrate Earth Day today with the theme “Green Generation: Towards Low Carbon Development for Survival Against Climate Change.”
World leaders are scrambling to come up with effective climate change mitigation and adaptation measures, engaging in negotiations for a new global treaty to cut carbon emissions when the Kyoto Protocol expires by 2012. The draft of a new global treaty will be voted upon by nations at the Conference of Parties (COP-15) in Copenhagen this December.
On the eve of Earth Day 2009, the government reiterated its position that there must be carbon reductions of more than 30 percent to 40 percent from 2013 to 2017, and more than 50 percent from 2018 to 2022 from 1990 levels.
Presidential Adviser on Climate Change Secretary Heherson Alvarez said cutting 20 percent of carbon emission by 2020 would not be enough because “each year storm surges worsen due to more carbon dioxide being suspended in the atmosphere.”
He said industrial nations must commit to “deep, early, and significant” cuts on their emissions in order to arrest the possible sinking of developing countries like the Philippines.
Already, 14 provinces in the Philippines are considered “climate hotspots” due to their exposure to climate hazards, low adaptive capacity, and sensitivity to climate change, according to a recently launched New Regional Climate Change Vulnerability Map for Southeast Asia.
Metro Manila ranked 7th among provinces and districts in Southeast Asia that were found “most vulnerable” to climate change.
The 13 other “climate hotspots” are the Cordillera Administrative Region, ranked 27th; Central Luzon, 30th; Cagayan Valley, 34th; Bicol, 36th; Ilocos, 40th; Southern Tagalog, 44th; Eastern Visayas, 60th; Northern Mindanao, 74th; Central Visayas, 86th; Western Mindanao, 87th; Western Visayas, 96th; Southern Mindanao, 103rd; and Central Mindanao, 105th.
President Arroyo, meanwhile, described the “crisis in the environment” to be “as critical, if not even more critical, as the need to solve the global financial crisis.”
Early this year, she took the helm of the Presidential Task Force on Climate Change (PTFCC) to fast-track initiatives for climate change mitigation in the country and launched the Carbon Cutting Coalition to advance the fight “for the survival of the Earth.”
However, the Philippine Climate Watch Alliance (PCWA) criticized the Arroyo government for its policies that allegedly fail to address and even worsen the state of the country’s environment as well as climate change.
They specifically hit the Arroyo administration’s alleged leniency towards commercial logging and large-scale mining, which they say “directly destroy” the country’s forests and mountains.
“How ironic it is that the government has never ceased issuing Timber Licensing Agreements (TLAs) and Industrial Forest Management Agreements (IFMA) to large-scale loggers, and mining permits to foreign corporations,” said PCWA convenor Giovanni Tapang.
Meanwhile, members of international group Greenpeace yesterday held an “Earth Day Barbecue” at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to call the government’s attention to the adverse impacts of coal-fired power plants on climate and the environment.
Amalie Obusan, climate and energy campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said that the single greatest move that the government can do to help stop climate change is to phase out coal and stop the construction of coal plants. –Katherine Adraneda, Philippine Star