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Dominguez calls for bolder collective action vs climate crisis

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Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has called for “bolder collective action” in realizing the Philippines’ global commitment to reduce its carbon footprint, starting with the ambitious goal of banning single-use plastics, as it is among the countries most vulnerable to the adverse impact of the climate crisis.

Dominguez, who is the chairperson-designate of the Climate Change Commission (CCC), said the Philippines should “aim high” and strive to be a world leader in making a difference in the battle against the climate crisis by crafting a set of science-based, well-studied Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), as part of its long-term commitment under the 2015 Paris Agreement.

“In a word, we have higher stakes in this global effort than many other nations. I want us to be a world leader in making a difference in this battle against the climate crisis3 I want us to pave the way in this area through our ambition,” said Dominguez at Wednesday’s opening of the second multi-stakeholder consultative meeting on the Philippines’ NDC.

“This is precisely the reason why we need to take a bolder collective action in crafting our first NDC. It is better to be late and to have ambitious and well-thought out contributions, rather than poorly constructed ones submitted on time, without a general consensus behind it,” he added.

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

In 2017, the Philippines ratified the Paris Agreement, which outlines a global framework on climate change mitigation, adaptation and finance.

The second multi-stakeholder meeting on the NDC was led and organized by the CCC.

Dominguez noted that this second meeting, held Feb. 3, aims to correct the lack of effort in the past to craft the country’s NDC and build the broadest consensus among stakeholders behind it.

Over 300 participants attended the virtual meeting held via Zoom.

The participants included representatives from the government, business sector, academe, civil society, non-profit organizations, workers’ associations and unions, youth groups, local government units (LGUs), industry associations and the Philippines’ development partners.

During the meeting, Dominguez reiterated the support of the CCC and the Department of Finance (DOF) to the enactment of a law banning the use of single-use plastics, which he described as “a crucial component of effective solid waste management and climate crisis action.”

“Once passed, every Filipino, by not consuming plastics, is contributing to help save our environment,” he said.

Disposable, single-use plastics, apart from polluting oceans and waterways, also leave a large carbon footprint, from the time their raw materials are refined to make the finished products and until after they are disposed of.

Citing a study showing the Philippines as the world’s third biggest plastics polluter in the oceans, Dominguez said “a strong mandate to reduce single-use plastics appears to be an obvious element in our NDC.”

He said the results of this study done by the Ocean Conservancy Charity and the McKinsey Center for Business and Environment on the Philippines’ plastics use “is an embarrassment.”

“This is irresponsible. We need to move to curb single-use plastic products for our own sake and to conserve the sustainability of our oceans,” Dominguez said.

Dominguez pointed out that there is no merit in the argument that the country should contribute less to the global effort of reducing greenhouse gas emissions because of  its small carbon footprint.

“We are a nation of over a hundred million people with a median age of 25. As our economy resumes its rapid expansion, our carbon footprint will grow with it. Committing to reduce our carbon footprint is a matter of survival for our future generations,” Dominguez said.

He said the NDC, which will represent the national program for reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, requires both political will and public support, as well as lifestyle changes, tighter regulations and economic costs for everyone.  

“On the matter of defining our first NDC, ambitiousness is a virtue. Let us aim high, make our nation proud, and accept our responsibilities for saving the planet,” Dominguez said.

“Without political will and public support, the program will likely be met with resistance. I, therefore, call on everyone to set our differences aside and cooperate on this effort,” Dominguez said.

He called on the participants to the second multi-stakeholder meeting to have the foresight and courage to redefine the country’s development along the lines of sustainability.

“There will be pain in making the adjustments. But it is the life of the planet that is at stake here,” Dominguez said.

Dominguez also underscored the need for the NDC to be crafted with science as its guide, as “the climate crisis is much too important to be distracted by geopolitics.”

“All the elements of our contribution must be feasible and should lead to a better economy for our people,” he said.

“I trust that the participants in this meeting will work the hardest and imagine creatively,” he added. “The outcome of this consultation will be our nation’s manifesto to the world, a statement that a determined, clear-sighted, and committed people can do much to roll back the deterioration of the only planet we have.”

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