Let me begin my speech with this question: Do our children and grandchildren deserve the Earth we are leaving behind for them?
I have asked this several times in the past, but I ask it again today because all our efforts to limit global warming to 1.5C would ultimately affect our children and our children's children.
The 2015 Paris Agreement is a landmark agreement in this history of humankind. However, its aspirations will not happen on its own.
Our goal is to limit warming to 1.5C. Whether or not a vulnerable developing country like the Philippines can significantly contribute to achieving that goal in terms of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) reduction is not the issue.
This has been said many times, our GHG emission is very minute at less than one percent. Even if we become 100% carbon-neutral, it would not change the Earth's landscape. But we must do so to survive and thrive.
The Low Carbon Monitor (LCM) Report, which was commissioned by the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), states that keeping to a 1.5C limit could raise growth economic output by as much as 1% by the 2040s, since so many of the devastating impacts associated with higher levels of warming would be avoided.
The Report cites the benefits of keeping warming to 1.5C:
Climate change damages would be substantially lower. For the Philippines, it will avoid 0.4% of losses to annual GDP growth by the year 2040.
2C of warming would result in 99% loss of all coral reefs. Keeping warming to 1.5C saves at least 10% of all reefs, with chances for survival gradually improving after mid-century.
1.5C policies maximize contributions to reducing air pollution that already kills 7 million people each year worldwide.
By 2050, 1.5C policies would avoid 5% reduction to productivity of key crops, such as rice and wheat.
1.5C policies require high proportions of renewable energy capacity, 60% of which needs to be provided off-grid. Such policies bring the greatest possible contribution towards achieving universal energy access by 2030.
Policies compatible with the 1.5C goal accelerate access to cheap renewable energy, reducing current costs by as much as five times before mid-century due to increased renewable energy installation capacity worldwide.
Pursuing a development path consistent with 1.5 degrees will not only protect our people and the environment, it will also spur economic growth.
For instance, low-emission power generation and renewable energy produce the greatest number of jobs per megawatt, far more than carbon intensive energy systems. By aiming for 1.5 degrees instead of 2 degrees, and investing more in energy efficiency and renewable energy, we can create almost 70% more jobs as early as 2030.
Furthermore, fossil fuels are highly volatile commoditized products on the international markets. When we purchase them from overseas, we drain financial resources from our economy to support employment abroad, all the while increasing our exposure to financial risks outside our control. This simply makes no economic sense when we have access to a great abundance of locally-available clean energy resources.
Off-grid renewable energy solutions will also be indispensable. For instance, we have over 7,000 islands and a national grid system is simply impossible. The call to transform and steadily decarbonize our economies will help us all pursue a path of development compatible not just with Paris Agreement ambitions but also with the very needs of our people.
While the transition to a clean energy-powered economy is critical to climate action, there is more than just energy to consider. The race to a 1.5-compatible economy presents an opportunity to transform development itself. Due to the increasingly dire threat posed by climate change, we need to upgrade everything. Infrastructure, supply chains, urban services, logistics, food supply, and more.
In order to make everything more resilient, we need to upgrade virtually all facets of our economy, which can only produce massive jobs and pump prime our economy. Climate action makes development sense.
The Philippines loses around 6.5 billion dollars every year to disasters caused by natural hazards. This particular vulnerability to climate change moved me to sponsor the landmark People's Survival Fund (PSF) Law, which established the country's first climate finance mechanism and pioneered direct access climate finance in the local setting. We hope more local governments and community organizations would be able to access the fund for their climate-resilient projects.
While we need to ensure that global pledges amounting to 100 billion dollars in public finance annually are delivered with the right balance--at least half going to adaptation--this figure pales starkly in comparison to private finance, that is several magnitudes greater, which we need to tap with urgency.
The implementation of our Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) is contingent on financial support. This multi-stakeholder consultation is crucial in determining not only sectoral targets but also the programs that we will present for financial and technical support. We can tap billions from public and private funds, but we can only do so if the plans we develop are truly responsive to the scale of the impacts of the climate crisis in our communities.
In closing, I wish to stress that the situation we are in requires urgent, massive, and effective action. We all need to be involved and work together.
The world is not just about us. There is a future and resources need to be protected and conserved for those who will be born beyond our time. The climate crisis presents the opportunity to promote sustainable growth for our own survival and for the generations to come.
Survive and thrive--this is our collective goal. Nothing more. And certainly nothing less.***
Source: Senate of the Philippines