President Benigno Aquino III urged world leaders on Wednesday to help lessen the impact of climate change by reducing carbon emissions, saying developed countries only make developing nations more vulnerable to disasters.
“Everyone here has to do everything they can to address climate change, without first waiting for their neighbors to engage in action. Doing anything less leaves the problem unattended, thereby increasing the problem we all face,” Aquino told world leaders at the United Nations Climate Change Summit Plenary 2014 at the UN headquarters in New York.
Aquino likewise urged his fellow leaders to stop debating on whether climate change is real or not, since “there is no doubt that it exists, which is the reason we are all here.”
“Excellencies, the time of debate is over. It would be wrong, however, to engage in another protracted debate over the individual commitments of countries. To my mind that would be adopting the wrong framework,” he said.
Together countries should face these challenges and surmount them, or “together we will suffer the consequences of inaction,” Aquino said.
He said climate change does not recognize national boundaries, or political or economic affiliations.
Small countries like the Philippines are in fact put in a very disadvantageous position as compared to highly industrialized nations whose carbon emissions are much, much more because it suffers from destructive typhoons like the world’s worst – Haiyan (Super Typhoon Yolanda) in November 2013.
“It would not be an exaggeration to say that Filipinos bear a disproportionate amount of the burden when it comes to climate change. Being less industrialized, we are not a major emitter,” he said.
The Philippine government has taken steps as early as 2008 by passing the Renewable Energy Act and has undertaken a massive national re-greening program on top of an intensified anti-illegal logging campaign, among many others.
“We have never lacked the resolve, for example, as regards transitioning towards less traditional sources of energy. What we lack is the access to technology, financing and investment that would allow us to accelerate our strategy,” Aquino added.
He said the Philippines continues to take steps to maintain and even improve its low-emission development strategy and the trajectory of energy mix, and is hopeful that fellow developing nations, especially those who have been gaining the economic wherewithal to pursue similar strategies, will tread a parallel path.
“We are tagging public expenditure on climate change to ensure that the appropriate prioritization and allocation of funds is achieved,” Aquino revealed.
The country has engaged other stakeholders in developing a disaster risk financing and insurance policy framework that can reduce the impact of disasters on the poorest and most vulnerable Filipinos, he said.
“Perhaps the international community may see the value of such an instrument, and look at it as a model to increase the financial resiliency of other nations in a situation similar to ours,” Aquino added.