The Philippines must step up its measures to mitigate climate change and reduce its carbon footprint after super typhoon Yolanda flattened out parts of Visayas earlier this month.
British Ambassador to Manila Asif Ahmad told reporters on Tuesday that there is a need for the Philippines to address the worsening effects of global warming in the country.
Yolanda has been linked to the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Warsaw, Poland after its delegate, Yeb Sano, went on a hunger strike in an aim to urge member countries to pass more comprehensive and effective measures that will slow down the role of global warming in stronger typhoons and cyclones.
“The Philippines need to sign up to a target that will reduce carbon footprint,” Ahmad said.
To do this, the envoy added the Philippines must improve its public transport and infrastructure and redesign its use of energy. He lamented that the British government, being a strong advocate of awareness about climate change and its consequences, has not entirely convinced the Philippines “to join us in this fight.”
The Philippines must also join in trying to raise the climate fund, an advocacy espoused by former Albay Governor Joey Salceda, now the vice chairman of the Green Climate Fund, which will be worth $100 billion by 2020.
It was established by the United Nations to help developing countries curb the effects of climate change.
Although the Philippine government is contributing to the said fund, Ahmad said private sectors in the country must also do their own share “to make this fund big enough.”
“Climate change may be theoretical for some . . . But for those who have been exposed to what happened [with Typhoon Yolanda], climate change is very real,” the British ambassador said.
Connie Hedegaard, the European Union’s climate change commissioner, has earlier visited the country in the hopes of engaging it to draft and implement measures that would lead to a significant agreement on the fight against climate change at the Paris summit in 2015.
The 2015 UN Climate Conference in Paris aims to gather commitments from its member-countries regarding credible emission reduction, adaptation, mitigation, financing and establishment of domestic laws.
By 2020, countries must be able to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent. This with the hopes that it will amount to 80- to 95-percent reduction by the year 2050.
Next year has been tagged as the year of ambition, which means countries must do their share in stepping up their actions to reach goals set for 2015, 2020 and 2050.
In the 2009 Copenhagen and 2011 South Africa summits, countries agreed to conclude a more binding agreement by 2015 in Paris, a massive gathering of developing and developed countries that aim to combat climate change through the discovery of alternative sources of energy and ways and means for adaptation and mitigation.
Climate change creates a warmer environment which enables air to hold much more water vapor, in turn making typhoons or cyclones more powerful than they already are.
Typhoon Yolanda is said to be a sober reminder for the international community to speed up its efforts in reducing carbon emissions, although a number of countries have been frowning over the non-commitments of the United States and China, two countries with the biggest carbon emission in the world.
According to United States Department of Energy’s Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC), the Philippines has a per capita emission of 0.8 tons in 2009, placing it at the rank of 159.
From the same list, Qatar ranked first with 44 tons of per capita emission, Trinidad and Tobago with 35.8 tons and Netherlands with 31 tons.
Australia ranked 11th with 18.3 tons and the United States ranked 12th with 17.2 tons. EU countries like Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom ranked below Middle East and some Asian countries while the European Union had a per capita emission of 8.1 tons.
The basis if such figures is from the carbon dioxide emitted because of the burning of fossil fuels and cement manufacturing. Land use such as deforestation a was not used as basis for the per capita emission, the CDIAC said.
Meanwhile, the British government has committed itself to help the Philippines get back to its feet in the long term. This was announced by its International Development chief Justine Greening who recently visited the typhoon-ravaged city of Tacloban.
Ahmad said though they will need to wait for the go signal from the Philippine government with regards to what kinds of assistance and aid it needs.
The meeting between the Philippine government and the diplomatic corps on Thursday will give the British government a “clear green signal” on what is needed to be focused on.
“Our core development staff [will be]here for a bit longer than normal emergency to make sure that what we are contributing is consistent to what is needed here,” the envoy said.
“In some ways, I don’t want to move ahead of the Philippine government and people who are working,” Ahmad added.
He said that the British government will shape up its priorities in terms if the aid that will be extended to the typhoon-ravaged areas (whether in rehabilitation or reconstruction) once the indicators have been identified.
“It would be wrong for us to simply step in regardless of the needs and desires,” he said.
BERNICE CAMILLE BAUZON