Climate change policies can boost economic growth

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CLIMATE change policies do not block economic growth since the two can go hand in hand, according to an official of the British Embassy in Manila.

Stephen Lysaght, the embassy’s first secretary and head of the economic and political section, told The ManilaTimes in a roundtable discussion last week that climate change policies do not halt the economic progress of a country.

He noted that it is better for governments to address issues of climate change “from an economic perspective.”

Lysaght said the Philippines, for example, can focus on energy efficiency because a lot can be done here “without money”, adding that there can be profit from energy efficiency programs and recycling.

He urged the Philippines to invest in new technology that will reduce carbon dioxide emissions because this will lead to “savings” in the future.

“What we are pushing for is policy. In the UK, we go out and get the best,” the official said, explaining that the British government spends money on technologies that will allow them to reduce carbon footprint by 80 percent in 2050 from the 1990s level.

Solar and wind energy can be expensive but these are investments needed in the Philippines because “you are in dire need of extra power,” Lysaght said.

“Lack of power [delays]growth,” he said.

Because of this need for power, the British official said burning fossil fuel could not be helped. But this can be mitigated by using “more gas than coal.”

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla’s decisions on energy efficiency in the next three to five years will play a big role in the future of the country’s climate change policies.

“It’s a work in progress,” Lysaght said, referring to the implementation of such policies.

He said the 2016 elections can be a tool to improve climate change policies currently in place.

“This is where you say, if you want my vote, it’s time to tell me what you plan to do about climate change,” he said. “Anybody [who plans to run as president]we would hope to see . . . really understand climate change,” Lysaght added.

He noted that these candidates should not just sympathize through evacuating people, but provide resilient policies and address the issue.

“There is no national level politician who should be without a policy on climate change,” Lysaght said.

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