MANILA – Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III underscored anew Thursday the urgency of addressing the worsening climate crisis, saying the “fate of future generations hangs in the balance” if nations continue to dillydally on the implementation of “practical and localized” projects to save the planet from global warming.
Dominguez said this was the reason why the Philippines has decided to pursue its grassroots-based climate action projects -- on its own if necessary -- without waiting for the annual US$100-billion climate financing pledged 12 years ago by industrialized nations to developing economies, which are the most vulnerable to the impact of planet warming.
He thanked one of these industrialized nations -- the United States -- for awarding the Philippines with a climate action project designed to support localized initiatives on adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change.
Launched Thursday, this US$15 million (about P732 million), five-year Climate Resilient Cities (CRC) project of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will benefit the local government units (LGUs) in the climate-vulnerable cities of Batangas, Legazpi, Iloilo, Borongan, Cotabato, and Zamboanga.
The project aims to assist these LGUs in using climate information for planning and decision-making; improving their capacity to access and manage climate finance; and increasing their climate resilience through natural climate solutions.
“On behalf of the Philippine government, let me thank the United States Government for supporting the Resilient Cities Project. This timely initiative will help arm our local communities with the necessary knowledge to enable them to formulate climate adaptation and mitigation projects on the ground,” said Dominguez during the project launch held at the US Embassy in Manila.
Dominguez, who is the official representative of President Rodrigo Duterte to the Climate Change Commission (CCC), said that with the climate financing committed by industrialized economies remaining unavailable and inaccessible, developing countries like the Philippines should now prepare to undertake mitigation measures on their own.
He said the annual US$100-billion financing that should have been mobilized by 2020 was “supposed to drive green financing, especially in emerging economies willing to lead the way in mitigation.”
“The Philippines cannot wait for the industrial nations to recognize the urgency of the situation. We are determined to move ahead on our own if necessary. We will take action now. We owe that to the Filipino people,” he added. “This is because the planet cannot wait and the fate of future generations hangs in the balance.”
Dominguez said the Philippines has been working hard to build “practical and localized action plans to help mobilize our communities to meet the challenges posed by climate change” as it is among the most vulnerable to its ill effects even though it contributes only 0.3 percent to global greenhouse gas (GHG).
“Thus, we submitted a bold commitment to reduce such emissions by 75 percent in 2030. We are disappointed, however, that the Western countries with the greatest volume of emissions were far less ambitious in their commitments to rescue the planet,” he said.
“On top of that, the Western countries that polluted and continue to pollute the planet the most for the last 170 years are not fulfilling their commitment to providing 100 billion US dollars in annual financing support for the global mitigation effort. We are disappointed that the highly industrialized nations are taking their time, splitting hairs, theorizing endlessly while the planet burns,” he added.
On the part of the Philippines, it is now preparing its people for the “difficult task of creating a green economy and reducing emissions,” which is rooted in “a comprehensive movement initiated from the grassroots,” Dominguez said.
Among the measures initiated by the Philippines is the launching of its Sustainable Finance Roadmap to spur public and private investments in green projects; and its partnership with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and private sector partners in developing the Energy Transition Mechanism (ETM), which is envisioned to become the largest emission-mitigation program in the world, he said.
The government is also pushing, he said, a law banning single-use plastics and has reconstituted its CCC panel of climate change mitigation and adaptation experts to include individuals from all corners of the country who are ready to engage fisherfolk and farmers in preparing them to execute localized action plans.
Dominguez said the Philippine delegation to last year’s 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) underscored the need for a sustainable “blended mix” of grants for capacity building, investments in green projects, and subsidies addressing the needs of communities transitioning to a climate-resilient economy.
“These three simple elements should be at the heart of climate finance. However, the COP seems to require three more years to work out the definition, concept and parameters of climate finance,” said Dominguez, who led the Philippine delegation to last year’s COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland.
The Philippine delegation also proposed that multilateral banks work together in catalyzing financial flows to developing countries to meet their climate change objectives by putting in place vetting processes for projects that enhance trust, enforce transparency, and encourage prudence in spending taxpayers money, he said. (PR)