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Prioritizing climate change as cabinet priority “a strategic move” – local think tank

Manila — The Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities praised the Aquino administration today for elevating the issue of climate change as a national priority. The group welcomed the issuance of Executive Order 43, which reorganized cabinet clusters to reflect priority issues outlined by President Aquino’s touted “social contract with the Filipino people.”

Also known as iCSC, the Philippine think tank said “the intent of EO 43 needs to be reflected now in the formulation of the government’s 2012 budget and the Medium-Term Philippine Investment Plan.”

“Changes in public financial flows will show the seriousness by which policymakers are prioritizing climate change,” said iCSC head Red Constantino. “Climate change adaptation should be the focus of official intervention but the private sector also needs strong policy signals from the government regarding the role of climate-friendly energy and transport alternatives in the country’s national development plan,” Constantino said.

EO 43 specified the “integrity of the environment and climate change adaptation and mitigation” as one of five priority issues the government needs to focus on. The other four were identified as participatory governance, empowerment of the poor, lasting peace and inclusive growth.

According to iCSC, the composition of the new cabinet clusters still has to be improved “to ensure that the intention of President Aquino is realized.”

“The DOF should be part of, if not lead, the climate change cluster instead of the DENR, because climate change is more than just an environmental matter,” Constantino remarked. “Ultimately, climate change is a development issue, and so the DBM and NEDA should be integral to the climate cluster, too.”

Constantino said “the strategic utilization of public finance in response to the climate crisis will significantly alleviate the growing vulnerability of countless communities.”

According to Constantino, disasters associated with episodic events such as extreme typhoons form just one subset of climate change impacts.

Constantino said “gradual but continuous increases in temperature or changes in precipitation can irreversibly damage the crop productivity of entire regions. Rising sea levels can destroy the livelihood of coastal and agricultural communities. Localities require predictable, adequate funding from the national government dedicated to supporting climate change adaptation at the local level.”

According to the Department of Agriculture, around 7,000 hectares of rice land in Bulacan, Pampanga and Bataan have been contaminated with saltwater over the last five years.[1] Officials attributed the saline intrusion to global warming.[2] PAGASA has projected the inundation of certain areas in Southern Tagalog due to shifting rainfall while substantial portions of Mindanao are projected to become distressingly drier annually even during the wet season by the year 2020.

The iCSC works is pushing for the early passage of the People’s Survival Fund bill, which seeks to establish a climate change adaptation fund for local governments and communities. iCSC is the proponent of the electric jeepney fleet project in Makati City and is currently working with Puerto Princesa city for the programmed replacement of 4,000 polluting tricycles. #

You may also read Sunstar Manila and Interaksyon.com.

 


[1] See page 15 of “Agribusiness investment opportunities in Central Luzon,” Department of Agriculture handbook, 2009.

[2] “Salt water damages 7,000 ha of C. Luzon farms,” Tonette Orejas, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 02 March 2011.

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