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Opinion

Collective action for future generations

A GREAT BRITISH VIEW - Daniel Pruce - The Philippine Star

Today, increasing temperature, rising sea levels and extreme weather events are becoming the new normal. The UN has stressed the need for collective action, saying that we only have 11 years left to prevent a climate change catastrophe that could result in the extinction of a million species due to human activity.

In the Philippines, there is an average of 20 typhoons a year that affect agriculture, health, infrastructure in 822 coastal municipalities and 25 coastal cities. Records show that the direct impact of these natural disasters is about 1 percent of the country’s GDP.

The UK is committed to tackling climate change and is leading the way with action. Our legally binding Climate Change Act committed us to reduce emissions by 80 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels. We have already reduced emissions by 43 percent, despite our economy growing by 72 percent in that time. In June this year we went even further – passing into law a net-zero GHG emissions target by 2050.

Why did we do this?

We recognise that this more ambitious path will require significant investment. But there is also huge economic opportunity in accelerating deployment of renewables and innovative technologies, particularly as they are increasingly cost-competitive with coal, even in this region. Over 30 percent of the UK’s electricity is generated from renewable sources. And we now produce 40 percent of the world’s offshore wind. This will enable us to close all our non- abated coal fired power stations by 2025. For two weeks in May we burnt no coal for electricity at all – the longest coal-free period since 1882.

The UK is also a leader in climate finance. We have pledged at least £5.8bn of International Climate Finance between 2016 and 2020. To build resilience to climate change impacts, the UK recently pledged to the Green Climate Fund that it will double its contribution to £1.44bn to support mitigation and adaptation projects in vulnerable countries from 2020 to 2023. Our Prosperity Fund Low Carbon Energy Programme, providing policy support and technical assistance on green finance and energy efficiency, is now rolling out in the Philippines.

But concerted effort by the international community is still needed.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres recently hosted the UN Climate Action Summit that put forward more ambitious actions on climate finance, energy transition, industry transition, nature-based solutions, cities, resilience and adaptation. The UK and Egypt led the Resilience and Adaptation theme. The Summit provided a critical opportunity to drive an unprecedented shift in how we approach resilience and adaptation in terms of response, support provided and integration of climate risk at the centre of governmental and business decision making. We are grateful for the support of the Philippine delegation to the political declaration and other initiatives under the Resilience and Adaptation theme, including the Risk-Informed Early Action Partnership, which is a new initiative to enhance disaster risk management with early action financing and increasing capacity to act on early warning systems.

I believe that working in partnership, countries such as the UK and the Philippines, will contribute to meaningful decisions on international action at the important global climate talks called ‘COP’. The UK in partnership with Italy is optimistic to host COP 26 next year in Glasgow and will endeavour to achieve and accelerate global commitments under the Paris Agreement.

We only have one planet. Let us work together to make our economies resilient, cleaner and greener – now and for future generations.

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(Daniel Pruce British Ambassador to the Philippines Twitter @DanielPruce)

CLIMATE CHANGE

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