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How about adaptation? The Climate Reality Project in Manila

by Janssen Mozar Martinez

As if in sync with the day’s temperature, heated discussions arise within the ballroom hall of the Sofitel Plaza Hotel in Pasay City as individuals gather for The Climate Reality Project (TCRP). The participants came from all around the country and the globe to listen and learn from some of the most prominent climate change advocates particularly the former US Vice President Al Gore. The Climate Reality Project is a non-profit organization established in 2005 motivated to solve the climate crisis. The organization conducts trainings and launch campaigns to raise awareness about the climate crisis and contribute to the accumulation of knowledge and formulation of solutions. Me and Danica, iCSC’s Policy Analyst, were fortunate to be part of this three-day training.

Initially, the attention of TCRP participants were directed toward the severity of the adverse effects of climate change. Some stakeholder perspectives were presented through the sharing of stories by some of the country’s key climate advocates. The training went on with presentations of the current climate change landscape including up-to-date data concerning its manifestations, aiming to stimulate a sense of urgency among us participants. Despite the gloomy feel of demonstrating the worsening situation of the climate crisis, the presentation remains to be optimistic by offering solutions through climate change mitigation strategies, such as carbon pricing and the transition from carbon-based energy sources (coal and fossil fuels) to clean energy sources, particularly solar and wind. Through the course of this training, climate change mitigation was framed as the go-to solution for the climate crisis.

How about adaptation?

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My groupmates with our Climate Reality Mentor Fr. Manny Bolilia (right) during one of our table discussions.

Having attended the TCRP for three days, I have observed that a great deal of time was dedicated on talking about the developed world’s experiences and mainly framing on the climate crisis discussion toward climate change mitigation measures, especially on clean energy and carbon-pricing strategies. However, the training lacked contextual discussions about the country’s current and upcoming adaptation efforts, such as the People’s Survival Fund(PSF) and Philippine Climate Change Adaptation Project (PhilCCAP), which could potentially change the landscape of government-led climate change adaptation efforts in the country.  Yes, it is important to recognize clean energy solutions and carbon-pricing policies toward the development of climate-friendly practices. In fact, legislation and national programs have already been established to promote the development and utilization of clean energy sources, and initiated to further reduce the Philippines’ contribution global carbon emissions. The National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) even considers climate change mitigation as a function for adaptation. The TCRP failed to place emphasis on recognizing the equal importance of climate change adaptation when it comes to addressing the impacts of climate change, especially in areas more exposed to its effects. Climate change adaptation initiatives deserve its rightful place and must have been given the same (if not more) attention during the training as it is being held in the Philippines, a country among the most climate-vulnerable. As a participant coming from the Philippines, I had hoped to learn more from both dimensions of adaptation and mitigation.

Nevertheless, I think TCRP left a positive impact among most participants, to realize that the desire to change from business-as-usual thinking is an important step toward the formulation of effective solutions to climate change. The point raised here is a challenge for the TCRP Training Corps — to include more adaptation-inclined discussions in both local and international contexts in future TCRP trainings to make their approach more inclusive, containing mitigation and adaptation strategies from both developed and developing countries.

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