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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations

Philippine Statement
by
 
Honorable Angelo T. Reyes
Secretary, Department of Energy, Philippines
and
Chairman, Presidential Task Force on Climate Change

 

Plenary III
Innovating a Climate-Friendly World –
The Role of Technology and its Dissemination
 
(UN High-Level Meeting on Climate Change, 24 September 2007)

I thank you co-chair.

As this high level meeting will be my first time to speak before a gathering at the united nations, allow me to thank our united nations secretary general, h.e. Bank Ki-Moon, for providing the leadership and inspiration for this global call for action on this most important issue of climate change.

Let me also state that my presence here today not only serves to highlight the priority the Philippines places on domestic action to contribute to our common cause, but also to benefit from this sharing of thoughts, experiences, and hopefully, concrete proposals for a way forward when we meet again in bali.

Fifteen years ago, the Philippines, alongside many other countries, convened at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro and signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). We did so, fully recognizing the urgent need to deal with the detrimental impact of human activities on the global environment.

Affirming the significance of climate change, we strengthened our commitment to the Convention by signing the Kyoto Protocol on April 15, 1998. Although the Philippines’ greenhouse gas emissions level is insignificant compared to those of other countries, we are committed to doing our part in helping mitigate—and adapting to—the potential consequences of climate change.

For instance, we are tapping renewable energy, exploring alternative fuels, developing geohazard maps, and undertaking aggressive reforestation of denuded areas. We are also enhancing human resource capacities in areas like weather forecasting, treatment of tropical diseases, and agricultural productivity, to name a few.

With access to the latest technological advances in key areas like energy and transportation, we can certainly make greater strides in our share of the global response to climate change.

In the field of renewable energy, the Philippines remains among the most significant users of geothermal power. But, as a tropical archipelago with a combined coastline twice that of the United States, our nation has barely scratched the surface in terms of harnessing the tremendous energy potential of solar heat, ocean waves and monsoon winds.

The Ideal scenario for the energy sector would be a replication of the technological revolution that changed the telecommunications landscape around the world.

In a span of less than 20 years, a convergence of innovations in wireless communications, digital technology and fiber optics swept away old telecom monopolies, sent international phone rates crashing, and made all of us accessible virtually anywhere on the planet.

This phenomenon allowed developing countries to leapfrog to state-of-the-art telecom networks, bypassing clunky and costly systems strung together by copper cables and analog switches.

Today, many of us would probably find it difficult to reconstruct what life was like without mobile phones. Can you imagine how much richer our quality of life would be if cleaner, more affordable energy can be just as accessible?

Yet the prospect of that coming to pass is not at all far-fetched. Some of us might recall that mobile phones used to be bulky and expensive. But with technology vendors investing in sustained research and development (R&D), the market soon started growing exponentially and allowed the industry to quickly achieve economies of scale.

Similarly, renewable energy sources are not yet as cost-efficient as traditional power plants. But, in time, one vendor will make a breakthrough that will open the floodgates to a raft of fresh innovations building one on top of the other.

Just last month, for instance, i understand that effeciency in solar energy technology has been taken to a whole new level with the use of giant concave mirrors that can harness the equivalent energy from a thousand suns. If this technology truly proves viable, would it not make sense for many countries reeling from the escalating cost of fossil fuels to share in further R&D investments or to help boost the size of the market?

The urgency of cobbling a global response to climate change gives us optimism that R&D in energy and related fields will take on a more collaborative—and less proprietary—character. After all, this is not the time for each of us to think as independent states but as co-stewards of a shared and endangered planet.

Whether we represent developed or developing nations, we all bear the responsibility of imparting and sharing knowledge, skills and technology to move further along the path of human progress, while mitigating—or perhaps even reversing—climate change. The Philippines is committed to pursuing its climate change program consistent with the global principle that recognizes the need to provide for an expanded, effective and fully functioning market mechanism for carbon trading given diverse approaches on domestic actions adopted by individual member economies or in accordance to the UNFCCC principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities.”

In this massive but noble effort, you can count on our full and enthusiastic cooperation.

Climate Change Overview in the Philippines

We are all aware of the history of negotiations and milestones in environmental issues within the un context. the Philippines, has played an active part in this process, signing on to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and the subsequent Kyoto Protocol - and although the Philippines’ greenhouse gas emission levels may be insignificant compared to those of other countries, we are fully committed to doing our part in helping mitigate - and adapting to -the destructive consequences of climate change.

The Philippines being an archipelago characterized by large mountainous terrain with narrow plains and interior valleys, is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

being on the Pacific rim, The country is no stranger to natural hazards like tropical cyclones, floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. The UNDP’s 2004 Global Report on Disasters ranked the country highest in terms of tropical cyclone occurrence and resultant deaths, and third in terms of people exposed to such events annually.

For other ecosystems like the country’s coastal areas, initial studies indicate that existing coastal problems like flooding and inundation may increase due to accelerated sea level rise and increasing frequency of cyclones and coastal storms resulting from climate change.

Meanwhile, our watersheds, which contain the country’s forests and a significant portion of its biodiversity are also expected to be adversely affected by climate change. Downstream effects include impact on about 1.5 million sq. kms. of agricultural land getting irrigation water from these watersheds. A third of the country’s total population living in the uplands of these watersheds and depending on them for sustenance, also stand to be directly affected.

The Philippines’ wetlands covering approximately 14,100 sq. kms. and comprising about 22 lakes, 8 freshwater swamps and marshes, and 61 coastal wetlands will also be affected.

Given these direct and adverse manifestations, the Philippines must first exert equal effort and emphasis on both mitigation and adaptation, as these two actions are key components for an effective strategy and holistic approach to climate change.

For a developing country like the Philippines, mitigation may be viewed as a longer range challenge, while adaptation is more of an immediate concern. Both areas, however, require widespread information dissemination activities to impress across all sectors in the country the urgent and important need to address climate change.

Involvement by concerned government agencies, the private sector, local government units, the academe, peoples’ organization, NGOs and other stakeholders is important to ensure that climate change initiatives reach the consciousness of every Filipino and positively changes their way of life.

if you have been listening closely, i have probably described a common experience in many of your own countries. it is this same commonality that must bind all stakeholders together in taking united and concerted efforts to seek solutions.

Efforts Toward Mitigating Climate Change

Mitigation measures shall be geared towards preventing or reducing greenhouse gases. The energy sector is recognized to be a major contributor of greenhouse gasses. The five-point reform package contained in the Philippine Energy Plan is geared towards attaining energy independence by aggressively developing renewable energy potential such as biomass, solar and wind. A key energy sector goal is to achieve 60 percent self-sufficiency level by 2010 with significant contributions coming from renewable energy and conversion of oil-based power plant to natural gas.

Anchored on the current Renewable Policy Framework, the Philippines will pursue its program with the following strategies:

  • become number one geothermal energy producer in the world through intensified development of the country’s geothermal sites;
  • become the largest wind producer in Southeast Asia;
  • become the solar manufacturing hub of Southeast Asia through the establishment of local industry in the manufacturing of affordable solar energy systems;
  • push for the development of viable mini-and-micro hydropower plants through various cost-efficient foreign assistance/loans.

We take pride that the Philippines’ share of renewable energy in its power generation is now at more than 40 percent of its total energy mix.

Biofuels for transport use is a major policy strategy to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. The passage of the Biofuels Act in January this year paved the way for a stronger push to reducing greenhouse gas and towards attaining our energy independence agenda. It gives impetus to domestic development of bio-fuels in the country. The Act initially mandates a minimum of 1% biodiesel blend within three months from the effectivity of this act, and at least 5% bioethanol blend within two years upon effectivity of this Act. The blend shall increase to 2% biodiesel and 10% ethanol in gasoline after four years.

And on the basis of this Act, the Philippine Department of Energy is mandated to prepare the Philippine Biofuels Program or the National Biofuels Program consistent with its existing Alternative Fuels Program. Among others, the Biofuels Program includes the establishment of support facilities to ensure security of feedstock supply and investments in supply infrastructure, directions on the availability of alternative fuel technologies for vehicles, engines and parts and identification of other viable feedstock for the production of biofuels.

To further promote the use of renewable and alternative energy sources, active support for the passage of the Renewable Energy Bill will be undertaken that shall provide incentives to and require mandatory use of renewable energy by power generators.

Towards higher use of environment-friendly alternative fuels, the Philippines will conduct extensive promotion of alternative fuels for transport sector. Compressed natural gas (CNG) public utility buses are expected to ply all the major routes from Manila and to each southern environs.

Meanwhile, nuclear energy remains an energy option for the country in the long-term. The Philippines is now pursuing exploratory initiatives to assess various aspects critical to pursuing nuclear energy, especially with considerations on safety and waste disposal of its operation. The country had a 620-MW nuclear power plant that could have been a major source of power since 1986. The Philippines intends to take a more proactive role on nuclear by initiating preparatory activities for the reinstatement or possible reconsideration of an open Nuclear Policy for Energy Development in the Philippines.

Likewise, we recognize the need to strengthen our skills and capabilities in anticipation of major tasks about to unfold before us. To be able to make an informed decision on the matter, we need a holistic Human Resource Development (HRD) Program to develop a corps of nuclear scientists and technical experts to study the critical aspects of nuclear power plant operations such as siting, safety, security, transport of nuclear fuel, health and environmental impact, social acceptability and nuclear fuel waste disposal.

Another area that warrants focused effort is on the promotion of efficiency and conservation in both the production and use of energy in households, industries and government offices. The priority policy thrust is towards energy-saving products. This will include end-use equipment, including appliances, lighting products, high-efficient electric motors, fans, pumps and transformers.

For efficient lighting, priority targets of the program are government offices through the replacement of incandescent lamps to compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs).

In the agricultural sector, climate change initiatives shall include efforts in the short-term to:

  • promote feed reformulation for livestocks to reduce methane from livestock metabolism;
  • promote wider use of organic fertilizer to reduce methane nitrous oxide, and:
  • promote reduced pesticide use through integrated pest management systems. In the long-term, activities shall be towards opportunities to:
    • develop dry land rice cultivation to reduce methane from decay of organic materials from flooded paddies, and:
    • develop technologies to minimize methane emission from waste decomposition

The sequestration of greenhouse gasses entails providing more vegetation through the Green Philippines Program which will involve massive reforestation with the planting of 20 million seedlings nationwide. We take pride in the inclusion of this program in the Guinness book of world Records for planting 85,656 seedlings during a one-day activity this year.

Improvement in the management of forests and grasslands shall also be pursued with aggressive forest protection and avoidance of degradation wastage. Improvement in air quality management shall be a continuing strategy through the activation and active management of airshed councils, strict implementation of stack sampling and monitoring and prevention and reduction of open burning of wastes in agricultural and rural households.

In the transport sector, stricter implementation of licensing requirements to ensure compliance with emission testing procedures shall be a continuing priority in the to pursuit of an anti-smoke belching campaign. On the other hand, conversion of engines and vehicles to more fuel efficient units shall be promoted in the long-term by providing assistance to public utility drivers/companies especially jeepneys and tricycles.

The involvement of the local government units (LGUs) will be necessary to promote more actively proper waste management with the implementation of 3Rs –- reduce, re-use and recycle. Conversion of waste to energy shall also be a key activity by the LGUs to promote methane capture for use in electricity, especially for garbage dumps.

Climate Change Adaptation in the National Priorities

The Philippines, just like other developing countries, needs further access to information to be able to develop scientific approaches that will allow government to integrate climate, environmental, social, economic and health considerations in formulating development planning. The government, in its Initial National Communication on Climate Change, indicated the need for adaptation measures, aspects of which are echoed in its various plans and programs which provide for the mitigation of natural disasters. The initiatives aim to enhance capability for risk management, which is currently focused on identifying and mapping multi-hazards and mainstreaming the information into national and local development processes and helping vulnerable communities to prepare and cope with these eventualities.

A top priority in climate change adaptation is towards initiatives to improve our baseline climate profile and upgrade the government’s capability to anticipate changes in weather patterns. This shall help improve our ability to forecast changes and variability in weather patterns and strengths of natural phenomena, especially during El Nino and La Nina.

Another important mitigation strategy concerns our water resources through the protection of aquifers that will entail strict regulation or banning of groundwater extraction in aquifer-critical areas to prevent saltwater intrusion, ground subsidence and minimize the threat of sea level rise. This will require the conduct of a massive information dissemination and education campaign. A possible approach is producing a local version of the film an “Inconvenient Truth” for nationwide showing. Regional roadshows on climate change will also be pursued in the near term.

Expanding capacities of river basins is another important measure. This will involve the dredging of canals and clogged rivers, relocation of informal settlers, establishing river bank stabilization measures and strictly regulating quarrying activities. The stablishment of buffer and setback zones and mangrove plantations as protective barriers from sea level rise and storm surges will be pursued in coastal areas.

Meanwhile, the determination of the most vulnerable areas to natural hazards to forewarn people will be carried out with:

  • the conduct of coastal geological and risk assessment;
  • conduct of hydrodynamic risk assessment to determine potential flooding in lake shore areas;
  • conduct resiliency assessment of various ecosystems and species, to determine priority protection, and:
  • accelerate completion of geo-hazard mapping in the uplands.

Protection of ecosystems and vulnerable species will be strengthened by establishing protection areas and critical habitats for most vulnerable ecosystems and species and by strengthening our anti-poaching campaign.

Other relevant agencies will be involved in mitigation measures and shall undertake the following initiatives:

  • conduct of trainings for local executives for disaster management;
  • establishment of comprehensive early warning and quick response systems for natural disasters;
  • promotion of rational land use;
  • actively promote “clean and green” schools with public schools serving as odels;
  • integrate environment, especially climate change and risk management issues in the school curriculum;
  • develop mechanisms for climate-change related diseases;
  • conduct information and education campaigns on climate-change related diseases, and
  • develop agricultural systems adaptable to changes in weather patterns and crops resilient to changes in temperatures .

The Philippines will reesolutely pursue these programs, and we hope that all countries will learn from each others” experiences and best practices. The challenge remain for orld leaders and governments to lay a realistic implementation framework to take us forward beyond 2012. the philippines pledges to remain engaged and take a leadership role wherever possible.

Thank you.




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