On the campaign trail up to his recent participation in the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, the president has called for immediate action to achieve climate equity and justice. PHOTO BY RTVM
On the campaign trail up to his recent participation in the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, the president has called for immediate action to achieve climate equity and justice. PHOTO BY RTVM

IN his bid to "reintroduce" the Philippines to the world stage, President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. wants environmental protection included in his administration's economic transformation thrust.

On the campaign trail up to his recent participation in the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, the president has called for immediate action to achieve climate equity and justice, echoing his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte's concern that the country was in "serious trouble" due to climate change and global warming.

"Those who are least responsible suffer the most. The Philippines, for example, is a net carbon sink; we absorb more carbon dioxide than we emit," the president told the UN. "And yet, we are the fourth most vulnerable country to the effects of climate change."

"This injustice must be corrected and those who need to do more must act now. We accept our share of responsibility and will continue to do our part to avert this collective disaster," he added.

The onslaught of Super Typhoon "Karding" last month September was a reminder that the government needed to act fast to fight climate change and mitigate its impacts.

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The Philippines is hit by at least 20 typhoons a year and scientists have warned that storms are becoming more intense as the planet continues to heat up because of greenhouse gases.

Marcos has pressed the panic button and his office has proposed P453.1 billion in funding for climate change expenditures in the 2023 budget.

The amount was justified by Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno, who pointed out that the Philippines had incurred losses of $10 billion over the past decade due to climate-related hazards.

"Climate change is the greatest threat facing humanity today. With its devastating social and economic impacts, it requires urgent action from all levels of society," Diokno said.

By allocating more money for climate change mitigation, the government is bent on showing the world that the Philippines is "determined to be a world leader in this fight against the crisis", the Finance chief added.

The Green Force, an initiative co-led by the Finance department and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, aims to synergize public and private investments in greening the business landscape and mainstreaming climate change.

Earlier this year, Philippine Sustainable Finance Roadmap also laid down steps to mobilize financing for climate action initiatives and climate-resilient public infrastructure, among others.

At a recent meeting with the Board of Governors of the Asian Development Bank, meanwhile, Marcos enjoined neighboring nations to help ensure climate-resilient economies and reiterated a call for united efforts against climate change.

Countries should develop economies that are "green ... sustainable, truly climate-resilient and responsive to people's immediate needs" and take "into account the ecosystem from which we harness our resource," he said.

Also at the forefront of the fight is the Climate Change Commission (CCC), which has ramped up efforts to ensure that Marcos' message resonates with every Filipino and the rest of the world.

Robert Borje, CCC vice chairman and executive director told a global climate change dialogue last month that all nations must seize the "opportunity to advance inclusive climate finance", driven by a process that ensures "balanced geographical participation, particularly of developing states in the Asia-Pacific region".

The CCC called for collaboration with partners and stakeholders "to implement more climate actions with results" and also challenged developed nations to "go beyond dollars and cents" in securing climate security and equity.

For the 27th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP27) in Egypt in November, the CCC said it would renew its call for a more effective and efficient global strategy with a particular focus on measures for developing and vulnerable nations.

"To give our people the environment we deserve, we – the global community — need to do more for the least responsible for climate change, those with the least resources, and those who are most vulnerable and at risk," Borje said.

"Conversely, for those most responsible for climate change, with the most resources, you — the developed and industrialized countries — need to do more. This is climate justice," he added.

Marcos has said that he was looking forward to attending COP27, which will be held at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh from November 6 to 18.