December 08, 2019 Sunday
MADRID, Spain 9 December 2019– Deputy Speaker and Lone District of Antique Representative Loren Legarda met with United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa to discuss matters related to increasing global commitment for climate finance and in leading low carbon and climate-resilient pathways.
The meeting took place at the sidelines of the UNFCCC’s 25th Session of the Conference of Parties (COP25), where Legarda serves as Head of the Philippine Delegation. Mr. Youssef Nassef, Adaptation Director of UNFCCC, was also present in the meeting.
On the issue of climate finance, Legarda raised concerns on the progress of the Long-Term Climate Finance work programme, which urges developed countries to identify pathways for mobilizing climate finance to USD100 billion per year by 2020; the stringent process of accessing the Green Climate Fund (GCF); and on financial compensation for developing countries’ “loss and damage.”
“How do we encourage developed countries to deliver and go beyond their commitments? Because even if we reach the USD100 billion target by 2020, it is still not enough to address the needs of all vulnerable countries,” Legarda said.
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa cited a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) stating that public and private climate finance from developed countries are on track in reaching the USD100 billion target. Mr. Nassef also explained that, at the end of 2020, countries will negotiate on a higher commitment per year until 2025.
Espinosa also said that even though resources to achieve this goal already exists, they are not easily accessible and often locked behind layers of bureaucracy. She added that countries do acknowledge that there is a climate emergency, but the challenge is to impart a sense of urgency for nations to decide and take action.
Legarda, who sits as Member of the Governing Board for the GCF, mentioned the recent success of the Philippines to secure a grant of USD10 million for the establishment of a multi-hazard impact-based forecasting and early warning system (MH-IBF-EWS), but also noted the difficulty in accessing this grant and the need to bring the GCF process down to the community level.
“For the GCF, the requirements are so stringent. It took us years to develop and secure approval for our country’s very first proposal. We need to simplify the process. We also need to capacitate not just our institutions, but also our local communities to further understand how to access the GCF. We need to see them positively affected by climate finance,” Legarda said.
Legarda inquired on how to encourage banks and financial institutions to support renewable energy, instead of new coal and other fossil fuels. Espinosa offered suggestions, which include: putting a price on carbon; providing viable alternatives to coal; creating legal and institutional support to make renewable energy more preferred and attractive; and bringing together relevant sectors that will address the needs of developing countries in terms of technology, finance, and capacity.
On the issue of “loss and damage,” referring to residual costs of climate impacts, which cannot be avoided through adaptation and mitigation, Legarda said that the UNFCCC must “push harder” and that developed nations must “face the facts that they caused it.” Espinosa said that, while progress is being made in this sensitive topic, countries might get stuck in a theoretical disucssion if they focus on the aspect of compensation, adding that countries can be more productive by focusing on what can be put in place moving forward.
Before the meeting concluded, Legarda gave Espinosa bamboo straws, noting that she filed a bill to ban single-use plastics in the Philippines, as well as a copy of her book, “The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the Humanitarian Space: Building Resilience, Fostering Resilient Communities,” which is based on her Commandant Paper for her Command and General Staff Course (CGSC) in the AFP.
Legarda shared that the book analyzes how the Philippine military, which also acts as first lines of defense in times of disasters, can help make a difference if they are further engaged in climate action, adding that, “They have the equipment, warm bodies, and budget. Instead of fighting wars, they can fight climate change.” Espinosa said she would share the idea with the Inter-American Board of Defense, which brings together defense ministers from around the world.
Legarda, a UNEP Laureate, UNISDR Global Champion for Resilience, and UNFCCC National Adaptation Plan Champion, also welcomed the fact that the UN now has rules to make COP25 and related operations carbon-neutral.
The public is invited to monitor events of COP25 and of Deputy Speaker Legarda through the following channels: