by Elijah Felice Rosales – The Philippine Star, 15 Oct 2021
MANILA, Philippines — The government has yet to decide on how to deal with multinationals found releasing too much carbon waste, as it plans to tap the private sector in addressing the climate crisis.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said the government has yet to craft a plan on – whether to punish or regulate – private firms emitting levels of carbon deemed to be damaging to the environment.
He said he would ask the new 16-person National Panel of Technical Experts (NPTE) for the Climate Change Commission (CCC) to look into the matter.
“There are no easy answers on how to balance the interest of both growth and environment. We have to look to the panel of experts to think through this balancing,” Dominguez said.
The CCC, chaired by Dominguez, has pushed for climate justice but has yet to come out with a policy requiring multinationals to control their carbon emissions. Abroad, authorities have enforced rules and regulations mandating some of the largest investors to slash their carbon output.
In May, the court at the Hague ordered petroleum giant Royal Dutch Shell to reduce its carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030 compared to 2019 levels.
In China, President Xi Jinping instructed phone manufacturers to bring down their energy usage by as much as 30 percent as part of measures to speed up China’s compliance with its climate commitments.
Under Xi’s blueprint, China’s carbon emissions should peak before 2030 and the country should achieve net neutrality by 2060, although this cutback on power production weighs down on the output of global manufacturers in another conflict between environment and business.
Maria Angela Zafra, a member of the NPTE, said the government can start by directing banks to allocate a portion of their loan portfolio for climate financing. She cited, for instance, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) circular issued last year on sustainable finance framework.
Under BSP Circular 1085, banks were told to include sustainability measures in their corporate governance framework, risk management systems and strategic objectives. They were given at least three years to integrate such policies within their internal operations.
The NPTE for CCC, composed of environmental and health experts from across the country, will convene at least once every quarter to discuss how to move forward in mitigating the impact of climate change on the Philippines.
The country placed fourth in 10 nations severed by climate extremities from 2000 to 2019 based on the Global Climate Risk Index, recording a total of 317 events during the period and incurred $3.17 billion in losses.