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On Climate Change
by Marie Banaag

Untitled Document It may seem strange, but if we are to enroll in a seminar-workshop on Climate Change, what we would probably learn is to raise our tolerance to fear and panic. It seems that even the advocates and people in agencies tasked primarily on Climate Change issues are anxious especially with the mind boggling earthquakes and tsunami that recently hit Japan and claimed thousands of lives and left thousands of people sick and homeless.

Today, we don’t refer to these natural calamities as effects of global warming due to deforestation, pollution, and the like as popularly known. We now call them the impacts of Climate Change and we are now embracing all the bad effects attributed to the dramatic rise in human-induced gas emissions.

The government is at a point where it should work in a more aggressive and immediate manner and make all agencies put their acts together to mitigate the effects of Climate Change. While it may not stop the impact of this worldwide concern, at least local government units (LGUs) may resolve issues which may lessen to a certain extent the use of destructive gas emissions, to slow the pace of global warming, and work to reduce the accumulation of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere and foremost on disaster reduction when calamity strikes.

There are potential dangerous consequences of Climate Change in the Philippines. In average of 20 typhoons traverse the country yearly and we have witnessed how strong these typhoons have grown in recent years like that of Typhoon Juan which has devastated the agricultural sector north of Luzon and made hundreds of people homeless. There is also an increasing severity of drought, fires, and floods, so with climate-related illnesses and diseases.

The Climate Change Commission (CCC) under the Office of the President was created by virtue of Republic Act 9729 or the Climate Change Act of 2009. This Office is mandated to coordinate, monitor, and evaluate the programs and action plans of the government relating to Climate Change.

RA9729 compared to other laws relating to the environment is all-encompassing. It systematically integrates the concept of Climate Change in various phases of policy formulation, development plans, poverty reduction strategies, and development tools and techniques by all government agencies and instrumentalities. It also directs LGUs to be the frontline agencies in the formulation, planning, and implementation of Climate Change action plans in their respective areas. It expressly tasks LGUs to mobilize and allocate necessary human resources and logistics to effectively implement their respective Climate Change mitigation action plans and authorize the same to appropriate and use the amount from its Internal Revenue Allotment necessary to implement said local plan effectively, notwithstanding any provision in the Local Government Code prohibiting such.

With all that has been legislated, I wonder if the LGUs have gone far to incorporate climate mitigation policies in their Annual Investment Plans, which may sound like weatherproofing their communities from the flagrant effects of catastrophe. But, it is more on the mitigation aspect, as for instance, taking a step to lessen the transport sector’s contribution to green house gases because vehicle emissions have increased significantly, thus, it may recommend to convert public utility vehicles to use LPG or other renewable energy sources or maybe come up with ordinances that will reduce emissions to levels compatible to a healthy place to live in.

I am certain there are a lot more which I leave to the sound judgment of our local leaders to come up with solutions to help save our communities, our environment.

The LGUs may not have been apprised of the issues confronting Climate Change and the Climate Change Act of course, thus, may we call on the CCC to reach out to our local leaders through an information and education campaign to heighten our LGUs’ awareness over the immediate need to come up with innovative policies to mitigate the impact of this global phenomenon. While the CCC is tasked to cooperate in the global community to address the issues on Climate Change, it should likewise be equally aggressive in the home front in its campaign without us calling its essence for being, after coming up with the National Framework Strategy on Climate Change.
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