Monday, January 4, 2010

DENR further boosts climate change action in 2009 USA, LLC

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MANILA, Dec. 3 (PNA) - Soon-to-end 2009 is a banner year for Philippine action on climate change with Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) leading fresh initiatives aligned with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's campaign on addressing this global scourge.

These initiatives cover mitigation, to help lower climate change-driving greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and adaptation so the country can cope with repercussions of increasingly irregular climatic patterns.

"Climate change is one of the biggest environmental challenges in world history," DENR Secretary Jose "Lito" Atienza said.

Early this year, DENR clarified criteria on establishing buffer zones for the country's designated protected areas (PAs).

This aims to better protect PAs which government distinguished from other areas due to uniqueness and significance of natural resources there.

Forests in PAs and elsewhere also help sequester or absorb carbon dioxide which experts identified as among climate change-driving GHGs.

Atienza issued DENR's revised implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for Republic Act 7586, the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992, to clarify criteria for establishing the buffer zones.

"Buffer zones shall be established whenever ecological integrity of PAs is threatened," he noted in the revised IRR.

Aside from climate change, threats to PAs include pollution, invasive species, communities' encroachment, presence of natural and semi-natural corridors for faunal movement as well as interchange of species.

To further increase coverage of carbon-absorbing forests, DENR also established in early 2009 a funding scheme for 'green' workers participating in its emergency employment projects in agro-forestry and reforestation.

This scheme calls for paying each "green" agro-forestry farmer PhP3,270 per month for planting cash crops within the one-hectare area assigned to such worker.

Authorities project these cash crops to generate for the worker around P23,000 in annual sales earnings.

DENR's funding scheme also provides each reforestation worker as much as P19,400 for producing seedlings as well as for planting and maintaining these in the one-hectare tract such person must work on.

Atienza said DENR projected spending some P1.5 billion for such agro-forestry and reforestation work opportunities.

DENR generated such opportunities for uplanders nationwide through its Upland Development Program so beneficiaries concerned can cope with impact of the on-going global crunch.

These opportunities also form part of DENR's contributions to the Comprehensive Livelihood and Emergency Employment Program of President Arroyo.

DENR prioritized uplanders in provinces government identified as being either the most impoverished or suffering from food supply shortage.

National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) identified the country's 10 poorest provinces in 2006 as Tawi-tawi, Zamboanga del Norte, Maguindanao, Apayao, Surigao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Northern Samar, Masbate, Abra and Misamis Occidental.

NSCB reported 2006 poverty incidence in these provinces ranged from 48.8 percent (Misamis Occidental) to 78.9 percent (Tawi-tawi).

In mid-2009, DENR called on local industrial players to green respective operations so these can help bring about sustainable development (SD) in a low-carbon economy.

DENR recommended several measures aimed at helping industries shift to greener operations.

These measures include establishing low-carbon management programs, practicing industrial ecology and eco-efficiency as well as using techniques to control emissions particularly those that drive climate change.

Without such measures, DENR fears difficulty in achieving SD which it defines as development that meets needs of the present without compromising future generations' ability to meet own requirements.

DENR believes industries must be responsible in producing and distributing respective products particularly since natural resources are becoming more depleted as economic and population growth are fueling demand for these.

To help promote industrial greening nationwide, DENR assured continuing to offer its package of incentives and reward mechanisms for players concerned.

These include more relaxed reportorial requirements, flexible payment schemes and simplified requirements for securing DENR's Environmental Compliance Certificates as well as the Revised Industrial Ecowatch System (RIES) public disclosure program which recognizes industries' compliance with environmental regulations.

Under RIES, DENR assigns to enterprises colors that indicate respective levels of compliance with environmental regulations.

These colors are gold and silver for compliance exceeding what such regulations provide, green or blue for enterprises' "sufficient effort to comply with DENR standards," red for insufficient effort to meet requirements and black for absence of effort to comply with these environmental provisions, DENR noted.

Atienza also believes shifting to greener industrial processes will give enterprises an edge over competitors since the world is already moving towards a low-carbon economy.

DENR's Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) is likewise studying other anti-pollution incentives which government can offer the business sector.

"We're looking into this to further encourage pollution prevention among businesses," EMB Dir. Julian Amador said.

EMB made this move as DENR and World Bank studies show air and water pollution from various sources, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene collectively account for nearly six percent of reported deaths nationwide annually.

Such studies also show the combination of these three factors result in lost income and health expenses amounting to some PhP14.3 billion a year.

In September, DENR and the Philippine government joined 20 Asian nations in adopting during the International Conference on Green Industry in Asia (ICGIA) the Manila Declaration on industrial greening and sustainable development.

These nations are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Laos, Malaysia, the Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor Leste and Vietnam.

The Manila Declaration represents these nations' commitment on helping respective industrial sectors shift to resource-efficient and low-carbon production processes so there can be lesser climate change-driving GHG emissions.

"This declaration indicates our intention to pursue greening of industries," Atienza said during ICGIA which DENR spearheaded at Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Manila.

President Arroyo also urged ICGIA delegates to fast-track efforts on addressing climate change.

"We must move quickly," she said as international scientists warned about havoc the world will face unless nations act to prevent climate change from escalating further.

Through DENR, the Philippine government hosted ICGIA which United Nations Industrial Development Organization organized with United Nations Environment Programme as well as United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

DENR is bullish the declaration will boost Asia's bid for sealing in Copenhagen, Denmark this December a new international deal on addressing climate change.

"It'll be another pressure for industrial countries to do more in reducing GHG emissions that cause global warming and climate change," said DENR Undersecretary Demetrio Ignacio.

He said nations that adopted the declaration will present the Manila Declaration during the United Nations (UN) Conference of Parties (COP15) in Copenhagen.

At the East Asian Seas Congress in late November 2009, the Philippines through DENR marked another milestone in its campaign to address climate change by joining East Asian nations in committing to step up implementation of integrated coastal management (ICM) to better protect the region's coastal and marine environment.

During this event, which DENR spearheaded at PICC in coordination with Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia, Atienza called for more local government action on ICM.

He raised urgency of such action, warning studies show East Asia's coral reefs will vanish in 20 years while its mangroves will disappear in 30 years unless initiatives to protect these and other natural resources are undertaken.

Citing climate change as among threats to existence of East Asian communities, he said experts project this scourge to bring about sea level and temperature rise as well as increasingly violent weather disturbances that can destroy and even wipe such areas.

"Some 1.5 billion people live along East Asia's shores, our seas contain 30 percent of the world's coral reefs and produce 40 percent of global marine fish - these are threatened by over-exploitation, pollution and climate change," he said.

Throughout 2009, DENR also supported various sectors' initiatives on addressing climate change.

These include the high-level climate change dialogue Asian Development Bank hosted in Manila, the conference on green consumerism and climate change, tree planting activities of Rotary Clubs nationwide, the conference on mitigating GHG emissions from livestock and agro-industrial waste as well as Clean Air Initiative-Asia's roundtable forum on air pollution.

DENR is expected to come up with more initiatives next year particularly as President Arroyo signed into law last October Republic Act 9729, the Climate Change Act of 2009.

This law requires government to formulate the framework strategy that'll be the basis for its program on climate change planning, research and development, extension as well as monitoring activities to help protect vulnerable communities from sea level rise and other adverse effects of changing climatic patterns due to global warming.

"We must really move to help moderate destructive impacts of climate change," Presidential Adviser on Climate Change Secretary Heherson Alvarez said on the side of the signing ceremony at Malacanang.

He cited the onslaught of storm "Ondoy" as a signal for stepping up action to address climate change.

"Typhoon Ondoy is clearly a manifestation of the consequences of global inaction in addressing the immediate impacts of creeping climate change," he warned.

RA 9729 also requires creation of the independent and autonomous Climate Change Commission (CCC) to formulate government's framework strategy.

"It shall be the policy of the State to enjoin participation of national and local governments, businesses, non-government organizations (NGOs), local communities and the pubic to prevent and reduce adverse impacts of climate change and at the same time maximize benefits of climate change," RA 9729 said further.

This law covers adaptation and mitigation measures although the Philippines is prioritizing the former at this time since the country isn't among major GHG emitters.

To help ensure implementation of CCA measures, DENR Undersecretary Ramon Paje is urging all sectors to think out of the box and come up with new schemes for financing this strategy.

"We need innovation in financing," he said during the three-day Second National Conference on CCA which DENR, Albay provincial government, the German government as well as various organizations and public offices held in Manila this year.

He believes innovation is critical in facilitating CCA particularly as authorities confirmed the country is already experiencing climate change's repercussions like onslaught of increasingly violent weather disturbances.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change lead coordinating author Dr. Rodel Lasco also pointed to urgency of generating needed resources.

He reported CCA between 2010 and 2050 will likely cost developing countries around USD75 billion to USD90 billion annually.

"Gross cost will be highest in the Asia-Pacific region where the Philippines is," he told the conference participants.

Unless the Philippines adapts successfully to climate change, Paje projects poverty incidence nationwide to worsen.

He based this projection on destruction which experts expect climate change to continue bringing on resources for economic development.

Alvarez also proposed for government's prioritization two initiatives which the Philippines can finance using its share of the Kyoto Protocol Adaptation Fund that'll enable developing countries to deal with climate change.

"We can use this fund for capability-building and for technology transfer," he said.

He noted government must invest in both as experts already warned the Philippines and several other countries will continue bearing the brunt of increasingly violent typhoons as climate change surges.


Source Citation
"DENR further boosts climate change action in 2009." Philippines News Agency 3 Dec. 2009. General Business File ASAP. Web. 4 Jan. 2010. .

Gale Document Number:A213654885

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