UK to PH: Address climate change

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British Ambassador to Manila Asif Ahmad called on the Philippine government to follow London’s step in addressing and mitigating the effects of climate change especially in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda that killed thousands and destroyed billions worth of infrastructure.

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Ahmad said that although the country has been open to the idea of “adaptation,” Manila should seriously consider following Britain in reducing its carbon dioxide emission.

“You have to address the way which energy is used… building resilience,” the envoy said.

Ahmad on the other hand is confident that the current administration is doing its share of addressing the climate change problem.

“[But] The Philippines needs to sign up to a target that will reduce carbon footprint,” he said.

To do this, the envoy added that 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 help raise climate fund, an advocacy espoused by former Albay Governor Joey Salceda, now the vice chairman of the Green Climate Fund.

The fund, which is seen to hit $100 billion by 2020, was established by the United Nations (UN) to help developing countries curb the effects of climate change.

Ahmad added that private sectors in the country must also do their 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 (EU) climate change commissioner, 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 on credible emission reduction, adaptation, mitigation, financing and establishment of domestic laws.

In 2020, countries must have been able to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent to reach the target of 80 percent to 95 percent reduction by 2050.

Environmentalists have tagged 2015 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 whipping out more powerful typhoons.

Super 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 frowned on the non-commitments of China and the United States (US).

According to the US 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 159th rank.

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 US ranked 12th with 17.2 tons. EU countries like Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom ranked below Middle East and some Asian countries with a per capita emission of 8.1 tons.

The basis of such figures is from the carbon dioxide emitted because of the burning of fossil fuels and cement manufacturing. Land use such as deforestation was not used as basis for the per capita emission, the CDIAC said.

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