Vulnerable countries urged to lead fight vs. climate change

Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has called on climate-vulnerable countries to “lead the charge” in saving the planet from the worsening climate crisis and to demand from rich nations largely responsible for this global emergency to fulfill their pledge of providing the massive financing needed to accomplish this goal. 

In his statement at the opening of the recent Ministerial Dialogue of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), Dominguez also urged these countries, including the Philippines, to work together in building a “global insurance safety net” that will enable them to access affordable financing arrangements, investments, and technologies to reverse the devastating effects of climate change. 

“This Climate Vulnerable Forum, consisting of countries most threatened by the ill effects of global warming, has the golden opportunity to serve as a world leader in this fight against climate change. Let us lead the charge now and show the rest of the global community how simultaneous and concerted actions can make a lasting impact in saving the only planet we have,” Dominguez told the forum.  

Co-hosted by the Philippines and Bangladesh, which chairs CVF, the three-day Asia Regional Dialogue aims to identify and promote headline climate change policy priorities for vulnerable developing countries of the region ahead of critical multilateral global policy events in 2021, such as the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) to be held starting October 31 in Glasgow, Scotland. 

“We must now demand the wealthier countries to raise the financing to support the achievement” of the respective Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement of climate-vulnerable economies, said Dominguez, who represents the Philippines in the CVF. 

NDCs embody the efforts of signatories to the Paris agreement to reduce national emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.

“Those countries that contribute the most to greenhouse gas emissions must bear the greater burden for mitigating the planet’s warming. Those most vulnerable to the consequences of climate change should receive the most urgent support. These are the essential components of climate justice,” he stressed.  

The Ministerial Dialogue provides an opportunity for Ministers of CVF member and observer-countries in the region to exchange views on challenges, successes, and experiences in climate change policy and develop collective policy priorities. 

Dominguez said climate-vulnerable countries “need to work together to come up with new financial frameworks in order to build a global insurance safety net.” 

“We should be able to devise a toolkit of innovative, responsive, affordable, and accessible financial solutions to mitigate the adverse effects of climate events on vulnerable nations. The toolkit should be able to assist the developing countries through financing arrangements, investments and technology transfers,” he said. 

Dominguez said the discussion among developing nations “facing the most severe consequences of global warming” while bearing the least responsibility for the pollution caused by industrialization, “underscores the inseparability of our efforts to mitigate global warming and our demand for climate justice.” 

Citing the Philippines as an example, he said the country contributes only about 3/10 of 1 percent to total global greenhouse gas emissions. 

As an archipelago sitting on both the typhoon belt and the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines, however, is most exposed to the adverse effects of climate change.

This is evident in the Philippines’s 9th-place ranking among 181 nations in the 2020 World Risk Index, which lists the countries most affected by extreme weather events; and in its 4th-place status in the Global Climate Risk Index 2021, which named the Top 10 countries most severely hit by extreme weather events from 2000 to 2019.

Taking these grim realities into account, Dominguez said the Philippines committed an ambitious NDC of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent over the next decade. 

“This ambitious goal will require comprehensive policy changes and a whole-of-nation approach,” said Dominguez, who is also chairperson-designate of the Philippines’ Climate Change Commission (CCC). 

Included in this “whole-of-nation” approach is the government’s   push for the passage by Congress of a bill that will ban single-use plastics to provide every Filipino the opportunity to directly help in saving the world’s environment; and an ongoing study on possible financing mechanisms to enable the government to improve the generating capacity of a hydropower plant in Mindanao. 

A concomitant goal is to acquire and repurpose coal-fired power plants in Mindanao to shift most of its energy requirements to hydropower, and eventually spur investments from companies seeking to expand their operations in areas powered by clean energy, Dominguez said. 

He said the board of the Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. (PCIC), which he chairs, will also work on expanding the assets and crops it covers so Filipino farmers can be given adequate financial protection from economic losses arising from climate change while reinforcing the country’s risk and resilience efforts.