Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje described as “a step in the right direction” the joint efforts by the Philippines and France to raise global awareness on the urgent need to take bold action against climate change and address its impacts.


In his two-day visit to the country, French President Francois Hollande launched with President Benigno Aquino III the Manila Call to Action on Climate Change and urged other nations to act now to stop the devastating effects of climate change.


“We welcome the Manila Call to Action on Climate Change as a step in the right direction. This initiative could set the tone for the Paris climate change conference set for December this year,” Paje said.


France will host the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change or COP 21 in which countries will try to reach and sign a new international climate agreement to replace the Kyoto Protocol.


Paje, chairman of the Cabinet Cluster on Climate Change, meanwhile, told a forum that the Philippines recognizes the urgency of responding to climate change and has moved to improve its defenses and resilience to the global phenomenon.


He said Filipinos have refused to become complacent in the face of extreme weather events and changing climate.


“While we accept the increasing intensity of typhoons as the new normal, we refuse to be complacent. We act because we suffer the worst and we truly know the urgency of action on climate imbalance,” Paje said during a climate change forum organized by the French Embassy at the National Museum on Thursday.


The environment chief said that for a country that experiences an average of 21 storms and typhoons every year, the Philippines is more than ever vulnerable to the impacts of climate change with rising sea levels and increasing frequency of tropical cyclones.


Paje said the cost of damage in infrastructure and agriculture alone to typhoons and natural disasters in the country from 2001 to 2013 amounts to about P265 billion, and the number of individuals who had to rebuild their lives is also staggering.


He noted that for Supertyphoon Yolanda alone, more than 1.4 million families were seriously affected, with about 7,000 casualties.


In response to the country’s vulnerability to climate change impacts, Paje cited the various efforts undertaken by government to improve its natural defenses and resiliency.


Paje said the country has launched massive watershed rehabilitation efforts and banned logging in all natural forest nationwide, and completed the national geohazards assessment and mapping that significantly improved the adaptive capacities of the flood- and landslide-prone communities.


All these programs are implemented in partnership with the local communities and civil society organizations, he pointed out.


He also thanked the French government for its commitment to support the country’s climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, particularly the ongoing greenhouse gas inventory being implemented by the Cabinet Cluster on Climate Change in partnership with the Ateneo de Manila University, the establishment of the Urban Planning Center at the University of the Philippines, and the existing Climate Change Academy at the Bicol University in Legazpi City, Albay.

Posted By: Lynne Pingoy


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