Climate and Environment

Presidential bets touch on rarely discussed climate crisis, adaptation plans

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Presidential bets touch on rarely discussed climate crisis, adaptation plans
Presidential candidates attend the second round of Comelec-sponsored Pilipinas Debates 2022 at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila tent in Pasay City on Sunday, April 3, 2022.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of human-induced climate change such as stronger cyclones, sea level rise and flooding. Conversations on climate change, however, have been largely missing from the election campaign.

But, on Sunday, presidential candidates who attended the debate organized by the Commission on Elections were finally asked how they plan to tackle issues related to the climate crisis such as just and rapid transition to renewable energy, and threats to water supply and food security.

Groups have been calling on presidential bets to present strategies to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change as the winners in the May elections will lead the country during the crucial window to address the crisis.

Here’s what the presidential aspirants who attended the debate said about climate change.

Renewable energy

In 2020, the Duterte administration said it will no longer accept proposals to build new coal-powered generators. The moratorium was announced in tandem with the relaxation of foreign ownership limits in geothermal energy projects worth $50 million or more. Experts, however, expect the Philippines to continue its dependence on coal in the next years.

Labor leader Leody de Guzman remained consistent in his stances: pushing for clean energy technologies and rejecting the use of planet-warming fossil fuels. He also stressed the need for political will to implement the Renewable Energy Act of 2008, which offers incentives like income-tax holidays and duty-free importation of machinery and equipment as well as incentives to farmers who plant biomass resources for RE generation.

"Dapat magkaroon ng matibay na decision upang bitawan na natin ‘yung coal plant dahil ito ‘yung pinakamaruming source of energy. Itong fossil fuel alisin na natin," the standard-bearer of the Partido Lakas ng Masa said. He previously said he will shut down coal-powered plants in the first two years of his term.

(We need to have a firm decision to let go of coal plants because coal is the dirtiest source of energy. We need to stop using fossil fuels.)

He also called for a rapid transition to renewable energy, noting the Philippines has a lot of potential to develop clean energy sources.

Vice President Leni Robredo emphasized the need to achieve carbon neutrality, which refers to a balance between carbon emissions and their absorption, by 2050 as she called for a clear energy roadmap to reach this goal.

Robredo also raised the potential use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) sources. But for environment and clean energy advocates, the construction and operation of LNG projects will harm not only the host communities, but also the country’s climate and energy security ambitions.

Presidential aspirant Ernesto Abella agreed with Robredo on having an energy roadmap. If elected, he will make the agriculture sector more sustainable by using renewable energy technologies.

While he is open to harnessing nuclear energy, Abella acknowledged the risks of doing so.

Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso said he plans to develop agrovoltaic energy, or the simultaneous use of land areas for both solar photovoltaic power generation and agriculture. Presidential bet Jose Montemayor mentioned the call for climate justice and climate finance.

Access to clean water

Droughts are exacerbating water scarcity, which negatively affects people’s health. Increased incidences of flood also threaten to destroy and contaminate water sources.

If she wins in the May polls, Robredo will prioritize water resource management infrastructure and identification of new water sources.

Domagoso mentioned watershed protection for efficient use of water resources, while Norberto Gonzales called for proper national planning. Sen. Panfilo Lacson said he will focus on irrigating lands and increase spending on research and development.

"Bakit tayo hindi mag-invest ng mas malaking halaga sa national budget para sa research and development nang sa ganoon ipunin ‘yung nasasayang na tubig galing sa ulan para pakinabangan ng mamamayan di lang sa irrigation ng kundi sa pang-araw araw na pangangailangan?" Lacson asked.

(Why don’t we invest a bigger amount of our national budget for research and development so that we can find ways to collected rainwater so it will benefit the people, not only for irrigation but for their daily needs?)

For Sen. Manny Pacquiao, a department that will manage water resources is needed.

Food security

Impacts of human-induced climate change such as increases in temperature and changes in rainfall pattern are affecting food production and food access

Montemayor linked the climate crisis to food security. "This is a vicious cycle and we need to emphasize this to future generations."

"We cannot forever rely on other countries," he said, adding he will stop the implementation of the Rice Tarrification Law of 2018 since it is hurting farm income.

Pacquiao also said the country should not be dependent on imports.

Faisal Mangondato, the standard-bearer of the Katipunan ng Kamalayang Kayumanggi party, said the government should prioritize the agriculture sector. Moreno, for his part, pitched to subsidize fertilizers for farmers and impose a three-year moratorium on land conversion.

vuukle comment


2022 POLLS



  • Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with