Monday, May 23, 2011

Think tank hails climate change prioritization by gov't
23 May 11

MANILA, Philippines – An independent environmental think tank welcomed the administration’s prioritization of climate change by reorganizing Cabinet clusters to reflect this new focus.

At the same time, the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities suggested more improvements to the clusters’ composition "to ensure that the intention of President Aquino is realized" and also for the 2012 budget and the Medium-Term Philippine Investment Plan to reflect the administration’s priorities.

The iCSC is the proponent of the electric jeepney project in Makati City and is currently working with Puerto Princesa city for the replacement of 4,000 tricycles. It is also working with Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile for the early passage of the People's Survival Fund bill, which seeks to establish a climate change adaptation fund for local governments and communities.

Executive Order 43 reorganized the Cabinet clusters around the administration’s five priority issues: integrity of the environment and climate change adaptation and mitigation, participatory governance, empowerment of the poor, lasting peace and inclusive growth.

Among the improvements proposed by iCSC head Red Constantino are making the Department of Finance part, if not the lead agency, of the climate change cluster, instead of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Explaining his suggestion, Constantino, in a statement, said climate change “is more than just an environmental matter. Ultimately, climate change is a development issue, and so the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) and NEDA (National Economic Development Authority) should be integral to the climate cluster, too."

"Changes in public financial flows will show the seriousness by which policymakers are prioritizing climate change," Constantino said. "Climate change adaptation should be the focus of official intervention but the private sector also needs strong policy signals from the government regarding the role of climate-friendly energy and transport alternatives in the country's national development plan."

He added that "the strategic utilization of public finance in response to the climate crisis will significantly alleviate the growing vulnerability of countless communities."

Constantino said the disasters associated with extreme weather events are just one aspect of the impacts of climate change. The "gradual but continuous increases in temperature or changes in precipitation can irreversibly damage the crop productivity of entire regions,” he pointed out. “Rising sea levels can destroy the livelihood of coastal and agricultural communities. Localities require predictable, adequate funding from the national government dedicated to supporting climate change adaptation at the local level."

He cited Department of Agriculture data showing that around 7,000 hectares of rice land in Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan have been contaminated with saltwater over the last five years, which officials have attributed to global warming; and projections by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration about the inundation of areas in Southern Tagalog due to shifting rainfall even as “substantial portions” of Mindanao become drier. #

See original piece here.


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