SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Sunday said he fully supports the declaration of a climate emergency to encourage swift action to combat climate change and its impacts.
According to Velasco, the declaration would compel the government, including Congress, and other stakeholders to place climate change at the center of their policy and planning decisions.
“Declaring a climate emergency means recognizing that climate crisis is the fight of our lives and that there is an urgent need for a massive-scale mobilization to protect Filipinos and the environment from climate change and its devastating impacts,” Velasco said.
The House leader noted that the Philippines has been facing climate emergency for decades now with millions of Filipinos left to suffer the catastrophic effects of extreme weather events made stronger and more deadly by climate change.
He said it is for this reason why the Philippines is considered as one of the most disaster-prone and climate-vulnerable countries in the world.
Velasco said the massive devastation caused by recent tropical cyclones—including Supertyphoon Rolly and Typhoon Ulysses which claimed 73 lives and caused the worst flooding in Metro Manila and Cagayan Valley in years—has made it imperative for the country to pursue stronger climate-adaptive and -resilient measures.
“There will be more typhoons that will come our way, and we have to become better at preparations and in handling situations that call for sound judgment to prevent devastating death tolls and economic costs of future calamities,” Velasco said.
The House of Representatives recently unanimously adopted a resolution endorsed by the Committee on Climate Change declaring a climate and environmental emergency.
House Resolution (HR) 1377 also sought to mobilize government agencies and instrumentalities, together with local government units, to effectively implement environmental, climate change adaptation and mitigation measures.
Also, the chamber’s Committee on Disaster Resilience has adopted HR 535 expressing the sense of the legislative body that there is a disaster climate emergency requiring a “whole-of-government, whole-of-society and whole-of-nation policy response to anticipate, halt, reduce, reverse, address and adopt to its impacts, consequences and causes.”
Velasco said the declaration of a climate emergency would amplify the country’s demand for climate justice from developed nations and help achieve its goals under the landmark Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
The Paris Agreement calls all signatory countries to submit stronger climate targets, known as Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs, every five years. The NDCs state what each country will do at a national level to reduce emissions, enhance their resilience to climate change threats, and help finance climate action.
So far, over three quarters of the world’s countries have formally committed to strengthen their NDCs by the year-end. However, only 17 countries have actually submitted their NDCs to the United Nations and only 13 of those NDCs contained improved climate targets. The Philippines is currently working to submit a revised NDC.
At the recently concluded virtual conference of lawmakers from 48-member-nation Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), Velasco said the country’s NDC will show “the world our resolve to pursue low carbon development, as well as the support we need from developed countries in terms of climate finance, capacity building and technology transfer in the context of climate justice and in accordance with the Paris Agreement.”
Velasco, along with Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III, Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda and House Committee on Climate Change Chair Edgar Chatto, represented the Philippines in the CVF conference.
During the forum, the Speaker said there is a need for the country to set enabling policies that will accelerate its transition to low carbon and climate-resilient economies notwithstanding the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We need to address gaps in climate action and the implementation of our climate change laws and policies,” Velasco said.
He also emphasized the need for other nations to support the Philippines in its fight against climate change.
“We are your people, our local emergencies are your global emergencies,” Velasco told forum attendees. “The increasingly violent typhoons, hurricanes and floods caused by climate change are becoming the new normal all over the world and the Philippines has been unfortunate receiving end of the worst of them.”