Summit of Conscience bolsters call for climate action

By Catherine J. Teves

MANILA, Oct. 9 (PNA) — Government further elevated its bid to build up climate change resilience of communities across the Philippines which experts identified as among countries most vulnerable to the changing climate’s impacts.

On Friday, the Senate Committee on Climate Change – in cooperation with the Climate Change Commission (CCC), the French Embassy in Manila and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – conducted in Metro Manila the country’s Summit of Conscience for the Climate.

The summit sought raising public consciousness that climate change affects everyone and is an issue each individual must be concerned about.

Discussions at the summit also presented the challenge for people nationwide to act on climate change according to their conscience.

“We must care and do something to show we care,” environment advocate and Senate climate change committee chairperson Loren Legarda said on the summit’s side.

She noted dealing with climate change demands changes in people’s values, beliefs and ways of living so they can do what’s right and good for the environment.

“Even simple acts like turning off lights when these aren’t used help,” she said.

Experts already raised urgency for action on climate change as they warned increasing onslaught of extreme weather events as well as sea level and temperature rise are the changing climate’s impacts on archipelagic Philippines.

They continue citing need to lower greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions worldwide, noting a 2°C rise in global temperature must be prevented to avoid climate chaos.

GHG emissions accumulate and trap heat in the atmosphere so temperature rises and this leads to climate change, they noted.

In line with the next international climate negotiations this December in Paris, government submitted to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change the Philippines’ commitment to reduce its GHG emissions.

“We did so even if the Philippines isn’t a major GHG emitter,” CCC Vice-Chairperson Lucille Sering said at the summit.

She hopes such action by the Philippines will move major GHG emitters to significantly reduce their respective emissions.

The Philippines is looking forward to countries finally reaching in Paris a climate GHG emission reduction deal.

“2015 is a significant year because the 2009 climate negotiations failed and we just can’t fail again this time,” said Sering.

Failed climate negotiations will spell havoc for all, warned Laurent Legodec, who’s the French Embassy in Manila’s charge d’affaires.

He noted if emissions continue at the current pace, temperature can rise by over 4°C.

“We must reduce the level of GHG emissions,” he said at the summit.

Authorities noted Friday’s summit is the first in a series of similar events to be held around the country to help promote public consciousness and action on the changing climate.

Conduct of the summits is in line with Legarda’s international commitment to initiate these events around the Philippines.

She made such commitment during the Summit of Conscience for the Climate held in Paris earlier this year.

Such international summit launched the ‘Why do I Care’ campaign which encourages each individual to ask this personal question and challenges a person to undertake climate change action based on what his or her conscience dictates.

Philippine authorities are encouraging people nationwide to ask themselves such same question and do their share in helping address climate change.

“I care because Earth doesn’t belong to us – we belong to this Earth instead,” National Commission for Culture and the Arts Chairperson Felipe de Leon Jr. said at the summit.

University of the Philippines President Dr. Alfredo Pascual also said the country’s premier State university is implementing measures to help address climate change and protect the environment.

“UP is doing its part in reducing carbon,” he said at the summit, referring to carbon dioxide which experts identified as among the climate change-driving GHGs.

To mark the country’s observance of International Day for Disaster Reduction on Oct. 13 this year, UNISDR Geneva Chief of Advocacy Dr. Jerry Velasquez presented during the summit the Citation for Resilience on the Ifugao Knowledge for Life.

He noted such citation honors the Ifugao people for continuing to protect 3,000-year-old Ifugao Rice Terraces, one of the eight wonders of the world.

Ifugao province Gov. Denis Habawel led Ifugao officials in receiving the citation.

The terraces’ existence over thousands of years is evidence of this global wonder’s sustainability, he noted.

International Day for Disaster Reduction is a day to celebrate how people and communities are reducing their respective exposure to disasters and raising awareness about disaster risk reduction’s importance.

This year’s celebration focuses on use of traditional, indigenous and local knowledge. (PNA)