Developed countries should pay their 'climate dept' to PHL, groups urge

Grants, not loans.

This is the call of Philippine civil society groups as they held up a symbolic huge bill listing the 'climate debt' reportedly amassed by developed countries to emerging economies like the Philippines.

Rich countries should pay for contributing 58% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that caused climate change from which we suffer greatly, said Gerry Arances, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) representative.

PHL: one of the most vulnerable countries in the world

Because of the Philippines' geographical, topographical, economic and social conditions, it remains to be one of the most vulnerable countries in the world when it comes to the effects of climate change, said Lidy Nacpil, PMCJ convenor.

The Philippines ranks fourth in the Global Climate Risk Index of 2013, a study done by Germanwatch.

Meanwhile, UK-based Maplecroft ranked Manila as the second the most vulnerable city to climate change.

Aside from extreme weather conditions, the agricultural areas are also affected because the land is becoming more saline, Nacpil explains. Farmers don't know when to start planting because of the prolonged rainy and summer seasons.

Representative of fisherfolk under the Pambansang Katipunan ng mga Samahan sa Kanayunan (PKSK) Ruperto Aleroza explained how many fishermen die while fishing during unexpected storms.

“Sa Gensan, last year lamang may 340 na mga mangingisda na nawawala dahil sa paglubog ng bangka dahil hindi nila inaasahan na biglang magkakaroon ng masamang panahon,” he said.

Nacpil also claims that the ocean acidification of our waters also causes the fish to become smaller; and their numbers, less. They also cause coral bleaching, changes in migratory patterns, and the lack of food supply of fish.

Mindanao has been experiencing more storms as shown by data from the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) since 2009.

Hence, they call for the fulfilllment of the decade-old commitment of developed countries to provide funding for climate change mitigation and adaptation to developing countries such as the Philippines.

Supposed grants coming in as loans and investments

Rich developed countries plan to give their public funds to their private sectors in order to encourage them to invest in climate finance, said Nacpil in an interview.

The problem with this is that the private sector 'gives' climate finance in the form of investments and loans.

“Okay lang naman kung donation,” Nacpil said. “[But] when they say that the private sector will go into climate finance, they mean investments. They mean negosyo. Hindi lang sa hindi satin mapupunta ang pera [...] pero maglalagak sila ng pera para kumita sila.”

Private investors, as proven by practice, invest their money in mitigation—e.g. solar panels, renewable energy, low carbon technology, etc.—which is a more profitable venuture than adaptation.

“What is profitable in relief and rehabilitation, for instance, from disasters? [...] Who will profit from training people in the communities to deal with extreme weather events? Or strengthening housing structures of poor families who cannot pay for it anyway?”

Nacpil points out that the country needs the money to strengthen the climate resiliency against extreme weather conditions and recovery from their damages.

“Each destructive typhoon season costs us 2% of our GDP, and the reconstruction costs a further 2%, which means we lose nearly 5% of our economy every year to storms,” Commissioner Saño told The Guardian.

The climate finance should be taken from the developed countries' public funds because they are repariations for the environmental damages they did that caused climate change. They should not come directly from the private sector, Nacpil explained.

Call to increase local allocation for climate finance

Although the Philippines lack the finances to cover all expenses needed to deal with climate change, we should still allot as much as we can, Nacpil said.

In 2012, the People's Survival Fund (PSF) was signed into law. Under the PSF, one billion pesos should be allotted to climate adaptation per year.

Another one billion pesos is allotted to the Disaster Risk Response Management every year.

But these are not the only ways to get climate finance locally. “If [the local government units] build in to their budget yung climate programs nila, they don't have to wait for the PSF. In fact, the PSF is only designed to stimulate. One billion pesos a year cannot cover it.”

“Pero hindi dapat natin lubayan yung pagdemand [sa mga developed countries] kasi hindi na puwede maghintay ang tao,” Nacpil said. — TJD, GMA News