The Philippine government continues to put in place measures to tackle climate change as it mulls declaring a “climate emergency,” according to Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, who chairs the Cabinet Cluster on Climate Change Adaptation, Mitigation and Disaster Risk Reduction (CCAM-DRR).

“All government programs and initiatives are leaning towards the declaration of climate emergency,” said Cimatu.

Cimatu issued the statement after environmental group Greenpeace Philippines urged President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to declare a climate emergency as a policy instrument to help the Philippines achieve its goals under the Paris Climate Agreement.

Responding to the call, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Chief Executive would consider declaring a climate emergency given that mitigating effects of climate change is high on his agenda.

Cimatu said that as early as February this year, the Cabinet Cluster on CCAM-DRR approved a resolution supporting House Resolution No. 535, entitled “Declaring a Disaster and Climate Change Emergency” filed by Albay Rep. Joey Salceda in November 2019.

According to Cimatu, the declaration of climate emergency would help deepen the country’s commitment to protect its economy, environment and communities from climate change.

“The Philippines has already suffered billions of losses, damages and disruptions due to the impacts of hydrometeorological hazards, so there’s an urgent need to address more projected adverse impacts to ensure climate justice for the current and future generations of Filipinos,” Cimatu pointed out.

Also in February, the Cabinet Cluster on CCAM-DRR approved another resolution underscoring the urgent need to consolidate government data in order to generate a nationwide climate risk assessment.

Cimatu said it is high time for the government to maintain a reliable climate risk profile that could inform and support development and investment planning and climate finance.

“With the consolidated government data, which is very important in articulation of climate rationale for project proposal development, the local government units could be enabled to have easier access to the People’s Survival Fund for their climate change-related development projects,” Cimatu added.

The two resolutions issued by the Cabinet Cluster on CCAM-DRR support strategies to enable the country achieve its goals under the Paris Agreement, in which world leaders committed to keep the planet’s temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius. 

The agreement, which is the culmination of decades of international efforts to combat climate change, establishes a framework of global climate action, support for developing nations, and transparent reporting and strengthening of climate goals.

In 2017, President Duterte signed the Paris Agreement, which came into force in November 2016. The Philippines committed to reduce its greenhouse emissions by 70 percent by 2030, but will need technical and financial support to achieve it.

The President, in his speech at the recent 75th United Nations General Assembly, affirmed the country’s commitment to the Paris Agreement and urged “the parties, especially those who have not made good their commitment to fight climate change, to honor the same.”

The Cabinet Cluster on CCAM-DRR is the government’s arm tasked with integrating policies and programs on climate risk management, disaster risk reduction, and sustainable management. 

It serves as a venue and mechanism for coordination, harmonization, complementation and synergy among government agencies and instrumentalities in delivering the national vision on climate change adaptation, mitigation and disaster risk reduction. ###