A-FAB calls on PNoy to fast-track climate change plans and rally ASEAN

Jakarta/Manila, 23 September 2011 – The ASEAN for a Fair, Ambitious and Binding Global Climate Deal (A-FAB), an association spearheaded by Greenpeace Southeast Asia, Oxfam and other partner organizations, is calling on President Benigno “PNoy” Aquino III to take immediate actions that would reverse the direction the country is taking toward policies that increase our carbon footprint, and instead fast-track plans that would inspire our neighbors to put climate change at the front and center of ASEAN cooperation. The call was made as this week’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Energy Ministerial Meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, drew to a close today.

“The Philippines is the only country in Southeast Asia where the President is the head of a climate change body. This speaks of the significance of climate change as an issue for the Philippines. This week’s Energy Ministerial Meeting and the ASEAN Summit in November are opportunities for the Philippines to inspire ASEAN cooperation. President Aquino should lead the majority of developing countries that are most vulnerable to climate change impacts in calling on the ASEAN to unite and work towards ensuring that this year’s last rounds of climate change negotiations in Panama and Durban result in fair, ambitious and binding commitments,” said Shalimar Vitan, Oxfam Advocacy Coordinator for Southeast Asia.

Southeast Asian countries are among the most vulnerable and least prepared to deal with climate change impacts. An ADB report estimates that the cost of adaptation for the agriculture and coastal zones in four member states (the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia) would be approximately US$5 billion per year by 2020 on average. [1]

A-FAB is calling for the ASEAN to strongly move as a bloc during the upcoming climate change negotiations and push for clear commitments from developed countries for more ambitious carbon emissions reductions, concrete sources of funding for the Green Climate Fund, and ensure that at least 50 percent of funding goes to climate change adaptation in developing countries. A-FAB also points to the Philippines’ unique position as being among the first countries to have a climate change commission, a National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP), and having its President’s have a direct role in the climate change body. The NCCAP has already gone through several rounds of consultations with various stakeholder groups, but has yet to be approved by the President.

“President Aquino can spell the difference in ASEAN as a true leader of climate change action if he acts swiftly, by prioritizing the implementation of the NCCAP as well as the development and deployment of renewable energy sources. The Philippines is among the most vulnerable to climate impacts, and could be setting the example for sustainable development powered by renewable energy. Likewise, at the regional level, ASEAN can show its serious commitment towards addressing the issue by coming out with the ASEAN Declaration on Climate Change, and eventually operationalize this across member countries.” said Atty. Zelda Soriano, Greenpeace Southeast Asia’s Political Consultant.

Greenpeace has also asked President Aquino to shelve all plans for coal-fired power plants and concretely prioritize renewable energy in the Philippine Energy Plan (PEP).

“President Aquino has personally cut the ribbon during the inauguration of coal-fired power plants, the most recent of which is the plant in La Paz, Iloilo. We fear that this sends mixed signals regarding the country’s commitment to shifting the country’s energy needs toward sustainable sources. Coal plants are the single biggest contributors to carbon emissions, largely responsible for climate change. These coal plants’ capacities are taking away from renewables and lock us deeper into a carbon-intensive future when, in fact, we already have better alternatives readily available,” said Amalie Obusan, Climate and Energy Campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. “But all is not yet too late. The Philippines could very well become the prime example of sustainable development if we shift gears now.”

A-FAB is an umbrella organization calling for a more active and transparent participation of the ASEAN at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

[1] “The economics of Climate Change in Southeast Asia” (Salim et al, ADB 2009) as cited Financing Adaptation in the Philippines; What is needed and where, Oxfam 2009. Also available at http://www.adb.org/Documents/Books/Economics-Climate-Change-SEA/PDF/Economics-Climate-Change.pdf Using this figure to arrive at a national cost estimate for the Philippines, divide $5 billion by 4 countries = $1.25 billion for climate change adaptation.