I was fortunate to have been invited to a Green Learning event in Berlin as part of the activities of German International Cooperation (GIZ) and the Department of Trade and Industry’s Promotion of Green Development (ProGED) campaign.
My take away from this learning visit? A green Philippines can be achieved if we have a plan. Berlin has a plan called the Climate 2050. Germany has a plan, which is echoed all throughout the country—they sing the same song whether you are in Berlin or Potsdam or MarzhanHellersdorf.
The most interesting part of this week was listening to a climate research expert named Mr. Reussweg, of the Institute of climate research. He had no power point presentation, nor drawings or visuals, yet he captivated the audience of 22 eager green champions.
How? Because he spoke from the heart. He explained climate change like a story of two parents walking along the park and seeing two children (not theirs—a boy and a girl) drowning in a lake. The man says: “I will save the boy if you save the girl.” The other one says: “My dress is so new I would not wet it for a stranger’s child.”
So there we have two different opinions about threats: some will do it if you also do your part. Others simply do not care. That is how we feel about climate change.
Another story is about climate change affecting polar countries more and tropical countries (near the equator) less but nevertheless we see polar caps melting and floodwaters rising. We see more typhoons and weather changes yet people just simply do not know what they can do. Or if they should even care.
Did you know that because of weather changes and generally speaking, changing climates our agricultural crops may have to be replanted in other areas than the usual?
Take the case of pili trees. They love the wild weather of Bicol. However, the weather that used to be in Bicol is now going south to Surigao. Should we now plant pili and abaca in Surigao and see that in five years it could be the next pili capital?
Abaca, which used to be aplenty in Leyte may now have to be planted in Agusan del Norte. These are just some ideas that discussions on climate change may bring up. But we need our own experts, our own climate research backed by science.
In Germany they started planning for climate change back in the late 1990s. And because West Berlin used to be separated from East Germany, they have had to make plans for self-sufficiency in terms of energy, in case the reunification did not happen in 1989.
How do we engage our neighbors to think about climate change mitigation when we do not yet have a solid unified country plan for it? All stakeholders that includes all citizens, public and private people, must know what they can do to mitigate climate change.
Will it mean lessening our carbon footprint in everyday life? Will it mean helping officials or pushing them to create a game plan for mitigation? Will it mean just making our community aware that we need to change our lifestyles if we must try to help the planet prevent further warming? We will really get warmer by two degrees according to scientists. But how soon we get there is up to us inhabitants of this planet.
We experienced a week of high temperatures in Europe and we were looking for air conditioners already. We could not believe hotels only had heaters and not coolers. This could happen to us and it is actually happening now with the power outages and the discomfort of trying to sleep in a warm room.
We should really go out and make people aware of what is happening to the planet. Rather than the scare tactic, we should enjoin people to think about what each one can do to address the inevitable—climate change.
Weather is changing everyday in different parts of the world depending where you are and what time of day it us. But climate concerns the whole world at any one time. There is a big difference between climate and weather.
The learning has just started and I am sure there is a whole world of ideas to replicate, to promote and to advocate. Join me in my journey.
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Chit Juan is a founder and owner of ECHOStore sustainable lifestyle, ECHOmarket sustainable farms and ECHOcafe in Serendra , Podium, Centris QC mall and Davao City. She also is President of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines and President of the Philippine Coffee Board Inc., two non-profits close to her heart. She often speaks to corporates and NGOs on sustainability, women empowerment, and coffee. You can follow her on twitter.com/chitjuan or find her on facebook:Pacita “Chit” Juan. Email her at email@example.com