Climate Emergency Declaration key step to protect Filipinos from disasters, group says

QUEZON CITY – An environment advocacy group has reiterated the need for a Climate Emergency Declaration to protect Filipinos from the ill effects of the climate crisis following the statement from Malacanang acknowledging the need for permanent solutions to the impacts of the climate crisis.

President Rodrigo Duterte plans to form a Build Back Better Task Force ahead of plans to establish a Department of Disaster Resilience.

Greenpeace Philippines Climate Justice Campaigner Virginia Benosa-Llorin said the government must not only focus on responding to and preparing for calamities. But it must strengthen policies to mitigate the climate crisis and its impacts.

β€œThe mandates of the new department and task force are similar to NDRRMC’sβ€”which is to strengthen the government’s response to calamities,” she said.

β€œDisaster preparedness and response are vital, but we need to focus beyond disasters and address broader, systemic issues that are part of the problem in order to better mitigate climate impacts.”

β€œWhat we see happening now is that a confluence of factorsβ€”not just the climate crisisβ€”have led to flooding, loss of lives and livelihoods,” she added.

Effects

Deforestation of watersheds, river siltation, and long years of short-sighted planning and governance Β have amplified the effects of more intense and more frequent extreme weather brought on by the climate crisis, she explained.

Climate interventions, according to Greenpeace, must not only focus on β€œmoments of emergency, but must be mainstreamed in all policies, plans, and projects.”

These interventions have to be included, among other, in planning, infrastructure projects, permits for large-scale industrial activities, and fisheries and agricultural policies.

Greenpeace said it is necessary for the country to strengthen its environmental policies.

Ensuring a healthy environment is one of the best ways to mitigate climate impacts on communities, the group stressed.

β€œWhat the country needs is a coherent strategy to address the climate crisis. It should be rooted in policies that protect people and climate on the basis of climate justice,” Llorin said.

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National priority

A Climate Emergency Declaration is important in addressing the climate crisis as the foremost national priority.

The declaration, she said, will put a β€œclimate lens on all policy and decision making and implementation.”

The proposed climate emergency declaration covers calling all countries to enhance their emission reduction targets.

Greenpeace earlier expressed support to President Rodrigo Duterte’s appeal for industrialized nations to cut their emissions, a key component in the organization’s call for climate justice.

Declaring a climate emergency also calls for establishing an enjoined whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach to strengthen climate response.

Set into motion

The declaration would set into motion the following:

  1. Charging the relevant government agencies and the Congress to adopt policies and enact laws to protect the climate;
  2. Direct public and private entities aligning their practices and/or business models to the goals of the Paris Agreement;
  3. Holding fossil fuel companies accountable for their share of responsibility for the climate crisis; and
  4. Ensuring the Philippines’ rapid and just transition to a low-carbon pathway through a massive uptake of renewable energy solutions.

Greenpeace has renewed the call for a climate emergency declaration as the country awaits the resolution to the Climate Change and Human Rights Inquiry. The inquiry is looking into the responsibility of 47 multinational fossil fuel and cement companies for the human rights harms arising from climate impacts.

β€œClimate change is part of our new normal. It is already affecting our livesβ€”stripping the poor of livelihood and safe living conditions. Without long-term solutions, it will continue to haunt us, especially the most vulnerable sectors,” Llorin said. (amm/Greenpeace Philippines)

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