Following the successful adoption of the Paris Agreement in December 2015, all eyes are now on the next steps that will be taken by countries to implement it. The intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) that both developed and developing nations have submitted have given us an idea of what their respective mitigation targets are as well as their goals for adaptation. In the case of the Philippines, the 70-percent emission reduction target it has set relative to business-as-usual scenario from 2000-2030 has been marked ambitious, given the fact that Manila is one of the countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
This reduction goal is conditional, which means it will need the support of industrialized countries - which are also the biggest greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters - for it to be met. The Philippines said it will decrease GHG emissions from the transport, waste, forestry and industry sectors through the assistance and technology transfer it will receive from other countries. The question to be asked now is how much would go to what sector and why. This is only not just a matter of transparency, but also of feasibility and credibility - funds that will go into the implementation of the INDC could best be maximized and consequently produce the intended results if they are strategically channeled to the right sectors and efforts. It is imperative then that the Philippines provides related data and sets a timeline for undertaking mitigation activities in each sector to meet its emissons reduction target.
This challenge becomes increasingly relevant in the face of another outstanding question that has to be addressed - and that is should the country’s INDC be purely conditional? While the Philippine government has no doubt pursued efforts on its own to lower ther country’s carbon footprint, it will be a testament to the political will of its leadership if it effectively implements the programs it has “climate-tagged.” The 2015 national budget has P133.6 billion set aside for expenditures covering 361 programs, projects and activities that were developed to address climate change. That’s a lot of money and it must be monitored if it will produce tangible results. Furthermore, given that amount of money and the compass of efforts, wouldn’t it be worth examining what role could these climate-tagged initiatives play into meeting the targets the country has set in its INDC?
Another aspect that must be considered is the prioritization of adaptation as a priority in the INDC. It is a considerable triumph for the country that the Paris agreement stated that assistance for adaptation will come in the form of grants, not loans. What must be tracked, again, however, are the local actions that will correspond to this international assistance. The Cabinet Cluster on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation is expected to launch a resiliency convergence program that will incease the understanding of climate risk in various local government units. How will this complement and enhance the earlier initiative of Ecotowns by the Climate Change Commission, which focused on providing technical assistance to cities, provinces and municipalities in crafting their local climate action plans?
A related query is the utilization of the Peoples’ Survival Fund (PSF), which is the main funding mechanism for the adaptation needs of local communities. Why has it been difficult for local government units such as cities and municipalities to access it?
The adaptive capacity of each sector must also be examined so we would know how to strengthen it. This will require robust consultation with government agencies and other stakeholders. In the drafting of its INDC, the Department of Agriculture was reportedly not consulted. This must not happen again if and when the country decides to revise its INDC or craft its NDC or Nationally-Determined Contribution post-2020 as farmers and fisherfolk have suffered most from extreme weather events. As we speak, farmers in the southern province of Maguindanao are already foreseeing massive losses from El Niño.
The next set of leaders then to be elected in 2016 and who will serve in the next 3-6 years must see to it that we would be able to walk the talk. The INDC of the Philippines is ambitious, yes, but it must be matched with equally ambitious efforts too.