Climate and Environment

Environmental agenda must go beyond disaster response, presidential bets told

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Environmental agenda must go beyond disaster response, presidential bets told
This photo taken on January 3, 2022 shows an aerial view of destruction in Burgos town, Siargao island, weeks after super Typhoon Rai devastated the island.
AFP / Roel Catoto

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential aspirants must present a meaningful and transformative agenda on addressing the climate and environmental crises, Greenpeace Philippines said, as the impacts of a warming planet have been increasingly felt in recent years.

Greenpeace Philippines country director Lea Guerrero criticized the lack of discussion so far on environmental and climate issues during the election season, particularly on the struggle for climate justice.

"This reflects the lack of ambitious plans in candidates’ platforms that would protect Filipinos from worsening climate impacts," Guerrero said.

Greenpeace Philippines issued the statement following "The Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews" over the weekend. Presidential bets briefly discussed building back better through climate-resilient infrastructure, transitioning to renewable energy, and planting more trees.

"In the interviews, climate and environmental issues were addressed within the frame of disaster response, rather than systemic solutions that would address the problems at root," Guerrero said.

"The next president needs to advocate the rights of Filipino communities, including securing a green and just future for the youth," she said.

"Instead of merely being reactive to the climate crisis, they must prioritize urgent, long-term, and systemic climate action, including following through with climate emergency declaration and expediting the country’s transition to renewable energy." 

Guerrero also urged presidential bets to demand accountability from fossil fuel corporations and wealthy nations, and stand for "inclusive, transparent and inspired models of governance."

The Philippines is one of the countries most impacted by climate change-induced catastrophes. Scientists warned that some of the consequences of the climate crisis are irreversible for centuries to millennia.

What did presidential bets say?

Vice President Leni Robredo, Sens.Panfilo Lacson and Manny Pacquiao, and Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso attended the program hosted by award-winning journalist Jessica Soho on Saturday.

They were asked about their strategies to prepare the country for and lessen the impacts of disasters.

Robredo stressed the need to "build back better" through climate-resilient infrastructure.

"We must ensure that houses will be storm resilient… If we build evacuation centers, we will ensure that these structures will not be damaged every time a storm hits the country so the loss of lives and property will be lessened," she said in Filipino.

Pacquiao called for the protection of the environment through planting more trees and being "clean and green."

If he wins, Domagoso said he will acquire more technology and equipment, and build facilities that will house people during disasters.

Lacson mentioned the minor contribution of the Philippines to climate change globally, the climate change talks in Glasgow last year, and renewable energy.

"But then we’re still a part of an international community of nations and we can do our share," he said.

Labor leader Leody De Guzman, who was not invited to the presidential interviews, has climate response in his platform and favors a push for renewable energy. 

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