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Monday, December 4, 2023

PH to pursue talks with US on climate loss and damage

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. explored possible cooperation with the United States on climate loss and damage during his meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday.

In a statement issued Tuesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Marcos is interested in partnering with Washington D.C. beyond climate mitigation and relief.

“(President Marcos) expressed interest in pursuing further discussions and possible cooperation with the US on the damage and loss concept, beyond mitigation and relief, to build on the discussions at the COP27,” the agency said.

Loss and damage refers to climate change’s negative impact that cannot be avoided by mitigation and adaptation, such as extreme weather events, sea level rise, and glacial retreat among others.

On Sunday, the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt closed with a breakthrough agreement to establish a new fund to help vulnerable countries respond to loss and damage.

One of the main focus of Harris’ trip to the Philippines is to spur cooperation on a range of issues, including advancing clean energy and addressing the climate crisis.

Among the United States’ latest initiatives are the establishment of an energy policy dialogue as well as the launch of negotiations for civil nuclear energy cooperation or the so-called “123 agreement.”

The 123 agreement, once in force, would allow the US exports of nuclear equipment and material to support the country’s energy security and climate goals.

Aside from climate change, Marcos and Harris also discussed peace and security against the backdrop of global and regional developments.

The two underscored the importance of upholding an international rules-based regime and maintaining open communication lines between and among partners to prevent any miscalculations and misunderstandings.

“President Marcos reiterated the independent foreign policy adopted by the Philippines, which is based on national interest and the country’s commitment to peace,” the DFA said.

On Tuesday, the President called on disaster officials to study the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (US-FEMA) to get its best practices for disaster management.

The President made this suggestion in a meeting in Malacañang, the primary agenda of which is to make the government more responsive to people’s needs in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.

FEMA, an agency under the Department of Homeland Security, primarily coordinates the response to a disaster that has occurred in the US.

Mr. Marcos had earlier considered placing the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) under the Office of the President for quicker response in times of disaster as this will cut the red tape.

During the meeting, the President made a suggestion for government agencies to study the proposal, as he pushed for the creation of a team that will immediately work every time there is an emergency or a disaster.

The President referred to the delays in government response when disasters strike and pointed out the gap in granting authority to government agencies.

The idea, according to the President, is to avoid the circuitous bureaucratic process and give agencies the authority to respond quickly and facilitate the immediate release of government funds.

Under the proposed setup, a team, composed of different agencies, including the military, will go to the disaster area, make an assessment and come up with a report stating what needs to be done.

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