With higher stakes, PH commits higher climate ambition

February 04, 2021 Thursday

Illustrative aspirational direction of the Philippine Nationally Determined Contribution shows that the country’s business-as-usual emissions trajectory shall shift downward and peak by 2030 toward net-zero by 2050. Photo from the presentation of CCC Secretary Emmanuel M. de Guzman during the House Committee on Climate Change meeting.

MANILA, 5 February 2021 — The Philippines is pushing for high ambition in reducing carbon emissions as part of its goal to adapt to the impacts of the climate crisis and keep global warming to the 1.5 degrees Celsius survival threshold.

Secretary of Finance Carlos G. Dominguez III, Chairperson-designate of the Climate Change Commission (CCC), had earlier called for "bolder collective action" against the climate crisis from the Philippines’ as a country highly vulnerable to climate and disaster risks, during a recent multistakeholder consultation on the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), a greenhouse gas emission reduction commitment from all countries party to the Paris Agreement.

“The NDC is the central element of the Paris Agreement. Forged among 196 countries in 2015, this accord is the last great hope to turn back the scourge of global warming," said Dominguez. "We have higher stakes in this global effort than many other nations. I want us to be a world leader in making a difference in this battle against the climate crisis. Committing to reduce our carbon footprint is a matter of survival for our future generations,” he added.

In a presentation during the House Committee on Climate Change meeting yesterday chaired by Bohol 1st District Representative Edgar Chatto for House Resolution No. 1494, CCC Vice Chairperson and Executive Director Emmanuel De Guzman presented the enhanced NDC draft.

“A consensus among lead government agencies and key stakeholders on the NDC ambition has emerged from the continuing consultations: 75 percent greenhouse gas reduction and avoidance by 2030. This NDC ambition is higher than our Intended Nationally Determined Contribution or INDC of 2015. It has been advanced by the lead sectoral agencies of government, Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Transportation (DOTr), and the Department of Energy (DOE), as well as the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) for the process of economic modeling,” said De Guzman. 

The House Resolution, authored by Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda, urged the CCC to submit the Philippines' NDC with the highest possible climate ambition to reflect the government’s strong commitment to contribute to global efforts to advance climate justice.

According to the CCC, majority of the commitments are conditional or contingent on the support provided by the developed countries pursuant to the Paris Agreement such as finance, technology transfer, and capacity building, in the context of climate justice.

Unlike the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution submitted in 2015, the Philippine NDC includes 2.71% unconditional emissions reductions through climate actions to be implemented mainly through domestic resources and subject to verification by the international community.

“This high ambition of minus 75% means that our business-as-usual emissions trajectory shall shift downward and aspire to peak by 2030 toward net-zero by 2050, consistent with the 1.5 degrees goal and the advice of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC for global emissions to decline deeply and drastically by 45% this decade,” De Guzman added.

Along with the lead sectoral agencies, the Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Budget and Management, Department of Foreign Affairs, Office of Civil Defense, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Public Works and Highways, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development welcomed the enhanced and more ambitious commitment under the NDC.

Aside from the national government, the CCC also gathered support from civil society organizations that have provided support throughout the NDC process.

Red Constantino, Executive Director of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, emphasized that the Philippines must demand accountability from historically responsible countries to the climate crisis through our NDC.

“Climate justice is our foreign policy, as our Department of Foreign Affairs has said. We must demand climate finance compliance from rich countries. Tayo po dapat ang naniningil, hindi sila,” he said.

Khevin Yu of Greenpeace Philippines expressed support to the updated draft and that more unconditional targets from other sectors be reflected in the NDC.

“We need more unconditional targets and this needs to be reflected in the policy and measures of the government agencies. We thank the leadership of the Climate Change Commission and the Department of Finance in this process and urge them to include the inputs of civil society, youth, women, farmers, fisherfolks, workers, LGBTQ, PWD and other sectors for a strong NDC submission aligned with the Paris’ 1.5 degrees global target,” he emphasized.

Dr. Mydah Kabingue, Chairperson of the College of Arts and Sciences of the Cebu Technological University, conveyed the need to incorporate scientific research, findings, and developments from the academic community.

“Our initiatives and ambition as members of the academe must also be communicated in our NDC. By doing this, we are also giving support to the faculty members and students who are already doing their share on climate action. In light of the growing challenges and threats because of this global climate crisis, we need to constantly innovate, research, develop the right tools and technologies, and rally behind science to achieve our goals for our society, people, and the world,” she stressed.

Keith Sigfred Ancheta of The Climate Reality Project Philippines expressed support to the updated NDC and sought the continuous inclusion of the youth in the NDC process.

“We, the youth, are also ready to work alongside the government to help achieve the targets and implement the policies and measures in our NDC. And we also hope to be continuously included in policy and decision-making alongside other marginalized sectors such as the farmers, fisherfolk, IPs, and others to ensure an inclusive consultative process. We are hoping for the continued involvement of youth in the NDC process. The UNFCCC recognizes the vital role of the youth from policymaking to implementation of adaptation and mitigation plans and projects. After all, it is our future at stake,” he said.

Over the next two weeks, the CCC shall continue to engage the sectoral stakeholders for the final draft of the NDC and its submission to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, and to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, before transmittal to the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat.

“Your Honors, 75 percent remains a horizon, and it is up to all of us to build a path to that horizon. The task at hand is to stretch the bounds of what is workable, mindful of the avenues for compromise toward a purposeful consensus for the sake of our nation’s and our planet’s future,” De Guzman concluded.