Science-based multi-sector action needed vs. climate, Covid-19

By Catherine Teves

September 21, 2021, 6:58 pm

MANILA – Climate Change Commission Vice Chairperson Secretary Emmanuel de Guzman is advocating science-based multi-sector action that will help the country sustainably deal with climate change and continuing onslaught of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

"I urge all key stakeholders, national government agencies, LGUs (local government units), private business and civil society to collaborate in pursuing a climate-resilient and sustainable pandemic recovery for the country," he said in a video message during the Annual Public Policy Conference green and inclusive recovery webinar on Tuesday.

Such recovery must be science-based and backed by decisive action aimed at ensuring a greener and healthier future even for future generations of Filipinos, he noted.

De Guzman raised the urgency for multi-sector action on the matter, noting climate change already wreaked so much havoc while Covid-19 "triggered a domino effect that has destabilized the interconnected system of human life, environment and economic stability."

"The cohesion and coherence of our actions and ways forward will define the speed and success of our country's recovery towards genuine growth and inclusive development," he said.

He ruled out continuation of the business-as-usual approach in dealing with climate change and Covid-19, saying both challenges require creation of a better normal for the country.

"We cannot go back to business as usual," he said. "We want to embrace practices that will place equal importance on economic, social and environmental well-being not only for the now but for tomorrow. We do this not through speculation but through decisions and policies founded on science."

Such science-based interventions will help protect gains the country already achieved in addressing climate change and Covid-19, he noted.

"In responding to the health, climate and environmental crisis, we must ensure that our actions do not restore the vulnerabilities we had before," he said further.

Citing findings in the first part of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) released earlier, de Guzman said this document confirms "the grave risks of a warming world" that's due to continuing emission of greenhouse gases (GHGs).

"It confirms that temperatures are higher than they have ever been in the last 125,000 years," he said.

He also said AR6 reaffirms that the climate crisis is "at hand" and its adverse effects "could be irreversible."

"We have very little time left to act so as not to break the climate threshold of 1.5°C," he said, citing the global temperature rise limit Paris Agreement on climate change aims to achieve.

According to experts, human activities like fossil fuel-based power generation are among sources of GHG emissions.

They said GHG emissions continue accumulating in the atmosphere and trapping heat there so global temperature rises, changing climate.

Increasing onslaught of extreme weather events as well as sea level and temperature rise are climate change's impacts on the Philippines, they noted.

Shifting to clean energy is among ways of reducing GHG emissions, they continued.

"AR6 tells us something can still be done but it must be done now," de Guzman said.

He said Paris Agreement's target global temperature rise limit "remains within reach" if countries worldwide heed science's call for "deep and drastic" reduction in respective GHG emissions.

Experts said the Philippines isn't among major GHG-emitting countries in the world.

In April 2021, however, the Philippines still came up with its first official nationally determined contribution (NDC) for helping meet Paris Agreement's goal of reducing GHG emissions worldwide.

Such NDC committed 75 percent GHG emission reduction and avoidance nationwide by 2030. (PNA