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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Locsin, Kerry discuss climate change plans

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. on Friday discussed with United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John F. Kerry various major initiatives intended to address the climate crisis.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said Locsin and Kerry talked over the phone and both acknowledged that climate change is one of the key areas where the Philippines and the United States can cooperate more closely to strengthen the two countries’ bilateral relations and their alliance.

During conversation, Locsin applauded the US for successfully hosting the virtual Leaders’ Summit on Climate held on April 22, 2021.

Meanwhile, environmentalists on Friday lauded the Asian Development Bank for its draft energy policy to abandon the use of coal to produce power.

Gerry Arances, the Center for Energy, Ecology and Development executive director, said the ADB’s move is a welcome development.

Scientists have repeatedly warned of the coal’s looming dangers, citing coal-fired power plants are linked with asthma, cancer, heart and lung ailments, neurological problems, acid rain, global warming, and other severe environmental and public health impacts.

Locsin and Kerry agreed to promote collaboration on the climate crisis the whole world is facing through various regional and multilateral fora, especially through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

On the part of the Philippines, the DFA chief stressed that climate change is one of the core priorities of the government, which is committed to advancing climate justice.

Last month, the Philippines submitted to the United Nations Framework

Convention on Climate Change its Nationally Determined Contributions with a target of 75 percent greenhouse gas emissions reduction and avoidance by 2030.

In its submission to the UN climate body, the Philippines noted that the country’s loss and damage from extreme weather events are increasing at an unacceptable rate, reaching 4percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2013 due to Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

It added that the successive typhoons in October and November 2020 alone resulted in approximately $852 million in losses and damages in agriculture and infrastructure.

In the energy sector, Super Typhoon Goni alone destroyed $ 56.3 million worth of infrastructure in 25 provinces in the country.

“The implementation of the mitigation commitments shall be undertaken through bilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation. In addition, the benefits of market and non-market mechanisms under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement shall continue to be explored, consistent with national circumstances and sustainable development aspirations,” the Philippines said in its submission with the UNFCCC last month.

“Today, the ADB unveiled the long-awaited draft of its updated energy policy, which, once approved by its Board of Directors by October 2021, would repeal the 2009 energy policy which saw the bank abet the growth of coal and other fossil fuels in developing countries in Asia,” Arances said.

He said their group and other civil society organizations, for the longest time, have reiterated the destructive impact of its carbon-intensive investments with the rapid shift of global energy landscape and imperatives posed by the climate emergency.

“We are happy that ADB finally decided to abandon coal once and for all in this draft policy. By seeking to support the phase-out of coal fired power plants in the region, the ADB finally recognizes the need to rectify its mistake of causing the suffering of many communities in the Philippines and across Asia through the coal-fired power plants it helped build,” he said.

He said they hope that other financial institutions would follow suit, paving the way for Southeast Asia to join the global exodus from coal.

“Nevertheless, we are concerned that the ADB shall continue funding the expansion of fossil gas in the region in their draft energy policy. Asian communities, which are some of the most climate vulnerable and are paying some of the highest electricity rates in the world, need access to clean and affordable renewable energy. Fossil gas will just delay the necessary transition, at great cost to these communities,” he said.

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