Saturday, August 21, 2010

Aquino administration urged to take urgent climate action through public finance

Manila (7 July 2009) — Civil society groups called on the Aquino administration today to take concerted action against what it described as "governance chaos" reigning over the administration of climate change-driven finance in the Philippines.

The call was made with the release of a report titled Financing Adaptation or Funding Chaos, by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities and Oxfam which called for climate action through public finance. The report revealed over 54 percent of foreign climate funds have been programmed for mitigation activities while only 45 percent have gone to urgent adaptation measures. Worse, said the groups, most funds for adaptation have come in the form of loans.

The call for public finance-driven climate action has gained critical support from leading national personalities. Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has embraced the cause, stating "National survival is at stake. Public finance measures that protect our ecosystems and future generations is urgent." At the House, Liberal Party spokesperson and congressman Erin Tañada said "Among the first steps towards raising public funds for climate action is to scrutinize the national budget."

"The lack of national climate action plans has made the Philippines vulnerable twice over and this needs to change," said Red Constantino of the iCSC. "The country is exposed to greater climate risks yet it is also vulnerable to predatory financing from funding institutions seeking profit from climate-induced tragedy."

The groups called on the government to mobilize domestic funds for long-term climate action. "We need to intensify demands for rich nations to scale up compensatory funding for impacts brought about by climate change. However, it is folly for the Philippines to rely only on the proliferation of finance pledges from developed countries," said iCSC and Oxfam.

The report said the Aquino government must prioritize action on adaptation. It outlined a national adaptation agenda anchored on public finance. The report called on the government to "access untied finance from the Adaptation Fund, a non-donor-driven institution under the UN with funding modalities that allow developing countries to sidestep conditionality-heavy financing institutions such as the World Bank."

"Adaptation should be declared as the national imperative," said Oxfam climate campaigner Marie Madamba-Nuñez. "It is vital that new funds are mobilized and delivered to those least able to cope, such as small women shareholders in agriculture," Nuñez said.

Oxfam and iCSC called for the creation of a National Survival Fund "that will democratize access to and create predictable long-term finance streams for urgent adaptation and disaster risk reduction projects and programs." The groups said "rationalization and the immediate revision of the implementing rules and regulations of the Climate Change Commission should be considered urgent." The Commission, said the groups, "needs to play a capacity-building, coordinative leadership role, primarily as the country's lead line agency and local government unit climate action rating agency." #

For inquiries, contact: Glenn Maboloc, Oxfam, 0928-5042911, Yvonne Caunan, Media Officer, Office of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, 0920-9835042, 552-6601 loc. 5554.


Green groups urge Aquino to review ‘skewed’ climate aid
07/08/2010 | 03:53 PM

Environment advocates have challenged the Aquino government to review financial packages for climate projects, saying majority of the funds are loans for reducing emissions instead of grants that will help Filipinos cope with climate change.

“The country is exposed to greater climate risks, yet it is also vulnerable to predatory financing from funding institutions seeking profit from climate-induced tragedy," said Red Constantino, executive director of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC).

He cited a study by the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (EMB-DENR) that showed 54 percent of funds committed to climate change projects from 1992 to 2018 were earmarked for mitigation efforts, which is mainly the problem of industrialized nations and not developing countries like the Philippines.

“Governance chaos reigns over the administration of climate finance that has entered the Philippines," according to a summary of the report Financing Adaptation or Financing Chaos, which Constantino presented at a policy forum Wednesday.

“This has skewed domestic climate action towards the wrong priorities. More international climate finance has gone to mitigation efforts instead of adaptation activities," the report said.

“Worse, it appears most of the resources allocated for adaptation programs and projects have come in the form of loans."

Of $2.08 billion in climate funds, loans amounted to $1.078 billion compared to $1.006 billion in grants, according to the EMB-DENR study presented by Constantino. For adaptation projects, loans outpaced grants by more than $200 million.

Adaptation to the negative impact of changing weather patterns is a crucial issue for environmentalists, as typhoons annually devastate many parts of the Philippine archipelago. The trend has placed the country in the Top 10 of the most vulnerable nations worldwide that suffer from climate change in recent years.

Amendments to IRR

Constantino also pushed for amendments in the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the law that created the Climate Change Commission, saying the government should be coordinating efforts among various agencies instead of implementing projects.

He said the Commission could best serve as a “knowledge hub" for various groups engaged in climate change advocacy, especially in seeking financing for community and local government projects designed to protect vulnerable sectors such as women and rural villagers.

Climate Change Commissioner and former DENR Undersecretary Lucille Sering admitted she had not paid much attention when she signed the document and agreed with Constantino’s proposal, saying, “If it is not amended soon, I refuse to be part of the IRR."

She also stressed the need to work with government institutions such as the Department of Finance and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, saying many of their staff are unaware of the Climate Change Act even though they play a critical role in climate finance negotiations.

“They have a bias for mitigation kasi iyon ang may returns," she said. Such projects often involve renewable energy efforts such as hydroelectric dams and methane recovery from waste.

“We are probably not insisting on the adaptation side," Sering added.

Last year, damage and losses from tropical storms Ondoy and Pepeng (international names Ketsana and Parma, respectively) reached $4.38 billion, the equivalent to 2.7 percent of the country's total economic output, according to a study led by the World Bank.

National Survival Fund

Along with the aid group Oxfam, ICSC pushed for the creation of a National Survival Fund “that will democratize access to and create predictable long-term finance streams for urgent adaptation and disaster risk reduction projects and programs benefiting the most vulnerable, particularly women in agriculture."

Constantino said they have obtained the support of prominent legislators, including Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and Liberal Party spokesman Rep. Erin Tañada for the initiative.

Former national treasurer Leonor Briones expressed support for the proposed fund but advised the climate campaigners to “be as detailed as possible" in making estimates on the budget needed to finance adaptation projects.

She also urged government and donor agency representatives who attended the forum to pool their resources for climate change projects, and for the private sector to upscale their efforts at the national level instead of limiting their social work to their base of operations.

“We can sing about the whales, we can write poems about trees, we can explore the love lives of mosquitoes but if we are not prepared to spend money for the environment, it’s all just poetry and songs," she said.

Instead of foreign funding, Briones said environment groups could exert pressure on the Aquino government to reduce the estimated “P100 billion in losses in exemptions and perks to the private sector" in order to increase the national budget.

She said climate campaigners have to pinpoint priority projects and “translate (them) into bite-sized, doable, and time-bound" programs that can be incorporated in the executive budget by August or the legislative development assistance fund by December.

“Laced with toxins"

Reacting to the fund proposal, Commissioner Sering said it would be “difficult" for their newly created office to coordinate financing efforts for climate projects. “We’re not yet capable of doing that at this point," she said.

Her colleague, Commissioner Yeb Saño, said their office lost its temporary personnel after the change in administration last June 30 and they are still waiting for directives from President Aquino, who chairs the Climate Change Commission under the law.

During the forum, Saño sided with the climate campaigners and said “financial flows from north to south are laced with toxins."

A former official of the environmental group WWF-Philippines, Saño said he was prepared to “arrest the chaos in the commission in climate funds" during his six-year term. –VS, GMANews.TV


Enrile supports stronger public finance for climate change
Press Release, Office of the Senate President, 07 July 2010

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has expressed a strong support for the call of civil society groups to take concerted action against what they described as "governance chaos" in connection with the administration of climate change-driven finance in the country.

At present, funds to prepare and assist our people for climate change impacts are limited, most often in the form of loans, and are difficult to secure, thus making us victims of exploitative traditional and unregulated financing mechanisms of large multinational banks and financing institutions.

"Addressing the serious issue of climate change requires substantial investment in new technologies, processes and services which are not only desirable, but also essential to the survival of our people, especially when faced with natural calamities caused by climate change," Senator Enrile emphasized.

Even while Congress passed the Climate Change Act of 2009, Enrile said that legislators should now undertake its review, in order to make a realistic assessment of risks and damages climate change may pose to the environment and, more importantly, to the security of our people. "We must also consider reviewing our priorities in terms of budget expenditure so that we can devote much-needed funds for mitigation activities and adaptation measures. At the same time, we must also explore alternative sources of funds for these programs." "Climate change is a complex, multi-faceted problem. Our efforts must give emphasis on public finance to enable the new government to move towards climate change adaptation."

Enrile issued the statement in support of the Forum on Climate Adaptation Financing in the Philippines organized by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities.

For inquiries, contact: Yvonne Caunan, Media Officer, Office of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, 0920-9835042, 552-6601 loc. 5554. #


Office of Lorenzo R. Tañada III
4th District, Quezon

07 July 2010

I wish to convey the support of my office to the public finance-driven climate action agenda proposed by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities and Oxfam. My office has long supported urgent action on climate change, knowing the dire risks it poses to the future of the most vulnerable communities in the Philippines.

There are many approaches that our country can take with respect to the climate crisis.

One of the first steps Congress should take is to scrutinize the national budget and make sure that it responds to the needs of local governments and the poor as they face worsening climate impacts. My office is committed to lead the effort in crafting a climate-resilient national budget.
Measures to mitigate the rise in greenhouse gas emissions must be a key element in our country's strategy so long as it helps our economy and poor communities become more resilient to the increasingly severe impacts brought about by rapidly warming temperatures. However, with national interest as the operational imperative, adaptation must be elevated as the Philippine priority.

The country needs to confront the climate crisis together and as one. We need to build a strong alliance of champions in all levels of government. In the House, with the promise of new hope brought about by the Aquino administration, I shall help mobilize support for a lasting and effective climate action agenda.

Contact: Jessica Reyes-Cantos
Mobile: 0917 320 0007


No comments: