MANILA, Philippines – Environment Secretary Gina Lopez on Monday, November 21, said the Philippines will be given access to $3 million from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) that will help address issues related to climate change.
“Next year [in February], the executive director of the Green Climate Fund is coming, and he’s giving us access to $3 million,” Lopez told reporters on Monday as she gave an overview of what happened during the recently concluded world climate conference, COP22, in Morocco.
The Philippines, Lopez said, will have to submit a proposal first to the GCF before it can be given access to the funding by the first quarter of 2017.
The Fund, headed by Executive Director Javier Manzanares, was created to limit or reduce greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries, and to help vulnerable societies adapt to the impact of climate change.
“We are a good investment for climate change. I also proposed that the Philippines be a laboratory of sorts for climate change. Why? Because the number one country vulnerable to climate change is the Philippines,” Lopez said, echoing her remarks in Morocco.
“[This] means if there’s gonna be any research on adaptation measures, it should be done here in the Philippines. If any adaptation measure works here in the Philippines, and our people get saved, it would probably work anywhere else in the world.”
Planting mangroves, bamboos
Lopez on Monday zeroed in on planting mangroves and bamboos as strategies to address 3 components of climate change: adaptation, mitigation, and inclusive growth.
Planting mangroves, she said, is a “fantastic” adaptation measure which is also good for food security and could be a stimulus for economic growth.
Meanwhile, Lopez said bamboo “scientifically sequesters 400 times more carbon than an ordinary tree. And it’s so inexpensive and it’s so fast to grow, in 3 years it’s big already.”
She added that bamboo, like coconut, has many uses.
“We’re going heavily into bamboo, and then heavily into mangroves, and these two have adaptation excellence, mitigation excellence, and are very good for inclusive growth,” she explained.
“If we have these models and right now DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) has the money to start these models, then we have something to show the rest of the world…. I really see the possibilities of the models we’re having in bamboo, in mangroves, which will later be funded by the rest of the developed countries. Why? Because it’s a good investment, for carbon credits, it’s a good way to help.”
The goal is to plant one million hectares of mangroves and one million hectares of bamboos starting 2017.
While the DENR has the money to start planting, Lopez said this money is “not enough to plant everything.”
The target for mangroves alone will require P25 billion ($502.36 million), she said, but the country’s National Greening Program only has P9 billion ($180.86 million).
“I think that if we can show that we can make a difference with the money that we have, I’m quite very optimistic we will be able to get the funding,” she added.
The Philippines will submit its proposal this year so that it could access the fund by next year.
Aside from the Green Climate Fund, Lopez said a German group is also giving the country access to $5 million, while France will help in cleaning up the Pasig River via the San Juan River.
The Philippines is also in talks with both countries when it comes to renewable energy.
As for China, Lopez said it looks like the country is very open to working with the Philippines.
“I met with the Chinese environment minister, and he’s also very interested on working with us – they have technology on bamboo. So I’m very much looking forward to this, especially given the inclination of the Duterte government to work with China,” she said.
President Rodrigo Duterte was persuaded by his Cabinet to sign the Paris Agreement on Climate Change after his initial hesitation on how the historic pact affects the Philippines’ bid to industrialize.
Lopez said she expects the agreement to be ratified by the country this year. – Rappler.com
$1 = P49.77