A few days ago, the President, who also sits as the chairman of the Climate Change Commission, as provided under Republic Act (RA) 9729, otherwise known as the “Climate Change Act of 2009,” has approved the submission of our first-ever Nationally Determined Contribution, the country’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

I am excited to share with our readers the full text of the Philippines’ Nationally Determined Contribution, to wit:

“The Republic of the Philippines submits its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in accordance with Decision 1/CP.21 of the Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

The Philippines’ NDC supports the country’s national development objectives and priorities of sustainable industrial development, poverty eradication, and inclusive growth, energy security, and social and climate justice, and the transformation of its socioeconomic sectors toward a climate and disaster-resilient and low carbon economy.

The Philippines shares the view that the NDC is a means to communicate opportunities for transforming our world with gender-responsive sustainable development options through the commitment of parties to support and complement each other’s endeavors in accordance with the partnership arrangement under the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement.

Developed through a whole-of-government-and-society approach, the Philippines’ NDC upholds the importance of meaningful participation of women, children, youth, persons with diverse sexual orientation and gender identity, differently abled, Indigenous Peoples, elderly, local communities, civil society, faith-based organizations, and the private sector, and recognizes the indispensable value of inclusion and collaborative participation of local governments in implementing climate actions. It shall enable a market signal to support local and foreign direct green investments. The NDC recognizes the private sector as the country’s main engine of economic growth and transformation, and promotes its full engagement in climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Aware of its exposure and vulnerability to climate change impacts and the increasing losses and damages the Philippines is incurring, it is employing its full national political strength to address the problem of climate change. Thus, the NDC is also based on and informed by national laws, as well as domestic legal, financial and policy frameworks, with the accompanying instruments and institutional arrangements on adaptation and mitigation, foremost of which is RA 9729, otherwise known as the ‘Climate Change Act of 2009,’ as amended by RA 10174, and its requisite policy instruments, the National Framework Strategy on Climate Change 2010-2022 and the National Climate Change Action Plan 2011-2028. The NDC also considers the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, Philippine Energy Plan 2018-2040, the Philippine National Security Policy 2017-2022, National Climate Risk Management Framework of 2019, and the Sustainable Finance Policy Framework of 2020. It shall also be progressively informed by the Filipino people’s aspirations across generations.

The Philippines, in line with its national security policy and its sustainable development aspirations and in solidarity with Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member-states, shall endeavor to peak its emissions by 2030 in the context of accelerating the just transition of its sectors into a green economy and the delivery of green jobs and other benefits of a climate and disaster-resilient and low carbon development to its people, among others.

The NDC upholds the importance of ensuring ecosystems integrity and promoting the country’s obligations on human rights and the rights of its Indigenous Peoples.

The Philippines recognizes the importance of traditional knowledge, education and public awareness and enhancement of climate actions through measures embodied in Article 12 of the Paris Agreement, and shall endeavor to institute a multi-level mechanism in this regard in the implementation of the NDC.

National circumstances

The Philippines is a low-middle income developing country with a current population of 108.7 million, growing at a projected average rate of 0.84 percent until 2040. Located in the tropical cyclone belt and the Pacific Ring of Fire, it is extremely vulnerable to climate-related and geological hazards that include around 20 tropical cyclones every year and an almost daily occurrence of seismic shocks, which cost the country an average of 0.5 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) annually. It is burdened with 16.7-percent poverty incidence and saddled with an aging infrastructure and intermittent insecurities in the food and agriculture and health sectors. Despite these, the Philippines remains steadfast in achieving zero poverty by 2040 and sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

Loss and damage from extreme weather events are increasing at an unacceptable rate, reaching 4 percent of GDP in 2013 due to Super Typhoon ‘Haiyan’ (Yolanda). 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’ (Rolly) alone destroyed $56.3-million worth of infrastructure in 25 provinces in the country. Noting the increasing difficulty for fast and timely recovery, it is apparent that the loss and damage impacts of these climate events are outstripping the country’s capacity to withstand climate shocks.

Climate change mitigation

In terms of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the Philippines emits an average of 1.98 metric tons (MT) of carbon dioxide equivalent per capita in 2020, or way below the global average of 4 metric tons per capita.

The Philippines commits to a projected GHG emissions reduction and avoidance of 75 percent, of which 2.71 percent is unconditional and 72.29 percent is conditional, representing the country’s ambition for GHG mitigation for the period 2020 to 2030 for the sectors of agriculture, wastes, industry, transport and energy. This commitment is referenced against a projected business-as-usual cumulative economy-wide emission of 3,340.3 MT of carbon dioxide equivalent for the same period.

The country’s climate change mitigation actions shall strengthen the resilience and adaptive capacity of the country, including through enhanced access to climate finance, technology development and transfer, and capacity building, especially on the implementation of the policies and measures on and the uptake of circular economy and sustainable consumption and production practices.

The implementation of the mitigation commitments shall be undertaken through bilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation. In addition, the benefits of market and nonmarket mechanisms under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement shall continue to be explored, consistent with national circumstances and sustainable development aspirations.

Climate change adaptation

The National Climate Change Action Plan 2011-2028 established the seven thematic areas of government action to address climate change, namely food security, water sufficiency, ecological and environmental stability, human security, climate-smart industries and services, sustainable energy, and knowledge and capacity development, which are pursued coherently with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

The Philippines shall undertake adaptation measures across, but not limited to, the sectors of agriculture, forestry, coastal and marine ecosystems, and biodiversity, health, and human security to preempt, reduce and address residual loss and damage. The Philippines shall pursue forest protection, forest restoration and reforestation and access to results-based finance in forest conservation. The country shall also endeavor to undertake equitable adaptation strategies with mitigation co-benefits and ensure their contribution to the national pandemic recovery. For this purpose, the Philippines shall diligently access the means of implementation under the Paris Agreement.

Concluding note

The Philippines’ NDC conveys the country’s progressive climate change mitigation commitment and adaptation challenges and requirements, including addressing residual loss and damage, in pursuit of low carbon, sustainable and climate and disaster-resilient development. With continuing analysis and public-private sector collaboration, enhancements on this NDC are expected to reflect increasing ambition and economy-wide mitigation potential, based on the growth directions and projected climate change adaptation needs of the Filipino people. These shall include enhancement of transformative policies and measures for climate change mitigation and information for clarity, transparency and understanding in accordance with relevant guidelines. The Philippines shall continue to engage all stakeholders concerned in the NDC implementation, updating, and monitoring and review processes.”

The submission can be accessed through this link:https://www4.unfccc.int/sites/ndcstaging/PublishedDocuments/Philippines First/Philippines - NDC.pdf

The author is the executive director of the Young Environmental Forum and a nonresident fellow of the Stratbase ADR Institute. He completed his climate change and development course at the University of East Anglia (United Kingdom) and an executive program on sustainability leadership at Yale University (USA). You can email him at [email protected]