By Catherine J. Teves
MANILA, May 22 (PNA) — Environment watchdog Greenpeace Southeast Asia supported President Benigno Aquino III's stand that the nation's action for development must factor in climate change.
"We share President Aquino's call that in everything we do, we should take into account the effects of climate change," Greenpeace said Thursday (May 22) through lawyer Zelda Soriano, this organization's political advisor.
Greenpeace released the statement after Mr. Aquino acknowledged on the same day in his speech before delegates to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Metro Manila, that climate change can be a game-changer.
"It's vital that everything we do – from planning of our infrastructure to reconstruction of the homes of our people – take into account the possible impacts of climate change," he said at the event.
Experts already identified the Philippines as among countries most vulnerable to climate change's impacts.
They said such impacts are onslaught of weather extremes, sea level rise and temperature increase.
President Aquino assured government's continuing efforts to be increasingly prepared for climate change, however.
He believes such preparation will help better protect life, limb and property nationwide from impacts of the changing climate.
"As our entire planet is confronted by the reality of climate change, there is no country in the world that can afford having a government ill-equipped to handle the effects of increasingly powerful weather disturbances," he said.
In a press conference earlier this week, Greenpeace and other environment advocates urged ASEAN to make environmental protection a pillar of this bloc's economic integration bid so Southeast Asia can better track towards sustainable development through green growth.
The parties raised urgency for action, noting such integration is scheduled to commencenext year but ASEAN still lacks mechanisms for promoting green growth in Southeast Asia.
"We simply can't follow developed countries that subscribed to the notion of growing now and cleaning later," Soriano said during the press conference.
She noted Southeast Asia can't afford to adapt what developed countries did as environmental degradation negatively impacts on people and their productivity.
Such impact will be significant for Southeast Asia as over 500 million ASEAN citizens depend on ecosystems for their food, livelihood and other needs, she continued.
Greenpeace re-emphasized such point in its statement following President Aquino's speech at WEF.
"Regional economic integration is the best time for ASEAN members to phase out carbon-intensive coal, gas and oil and give policy support for clean and renewable energy (RE) sources," Greenpeace also said in the statement.
Among the country's RE sources are the sun, wind, water bodies, Greenpeace noted.
The group continues pushing for increased RE use, warning carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions like those from coal-fired power plants will only exacerbate climate change.
According to experts, CO2 is among greenhouse gases that accumulate in the atmosphere, trapping heat there so temperature rises.
The rise in temperature results in global warming that causes climate change, they noted.
To help address the climate change threat, Mr. Aquino said government already made resiliency a staple of its bid for better growth and development.
"All our plans – whether local or national – are now being increasingly oriented towards a direction that includes resilience in the face of disaster," he said.
He said among government efforts to increase communities' resiliency is the thrust to build back better in areas reeling from the wrath of super typhoon 'Yolanda' (international name 'Haiyan').
"We are reconstructing roads, energy infrastructure and communities in a strategic manner such that our people, industries and the economy, as a whole, are not put at risk whenever a typhoon makes landfall – this is a vital direction to take for any country that wants to ensure its long-term viability or, in other words, its survival," he said.
Government is also using state-of-the-art technology to map the topography of Philippine floodplains and river basins, he continued.
He said Light Detection And Ranging or LiDAR technology will help government take a more science-based approach towards building resilient communities nationwide.
'Yolanda' struck Central Philippines in November 2013 and nearly destroyed everything in its path.
Experts cited 'Yolanda' as among the strongest tropical cyclones to make landfall in the world's recorded history.
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said more than 6,000 people were reported dead from 'Yolanda' which also affected millions of people. (PNA)