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Climate change remains DENR’s top priority–Paje

ADDRESSING the worst impact of climate change remains the top priority of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for 2013.

Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said considering that the Philippines is among the countries in the world most vulnerable to climate change given the number of deadly typhoons visiting the country every year, the agency will continue to implement programs geared toward climate-change adaptation and mitigation.

He said the DENR, the agency mandated to manage the country’s natural wealth, will endeavor to build on past gains, to reduce the country’s carbon footprint—or the total carbon emission into the atmosphere that causes global warming.

“Mitigating and adapting to climate change have long been inherent in the mandated functions of the DENR, more so since the country has been considered as one of the most vulnerable to its adverse effects,” Paje said.

According to the 2013 Global Climate Risk Index, the Philippines placed fourth among more than 190 countries around the world that have suffered the most extreme weather events such as flooding and storms over the past 20 years.

Paje said the DENR has undertaken initiatives to reduce carbon emissions through its reforestation and other tree-planting projects, and anti-air pollution programs.

He said the department is now drawing up fresh action plans to meet its target to plant trees on some 300,000 hectares for 2013 under the National Greening Program, which aims to cover some 1.5 million hectares with trees by 2016.

Paje said massive tree-planting could lessen the impact of global warming due to carbon dioxide emissions.  “Reforestation reduces carbon emissions because trees absorb carbon dioxide, which is one of the major contributing elements to the greenhouse effect that causes climate change,” he said.

The environment chief said the DENR will also intensify its campaign to minimize air pollution by promoting the use of clean fuel and energy efficient products.

He said the agency will continue to coordinate with local officials and the Land Transportation Office in curbing pollution from mobile sources by cracking down on smoke belchers. The DENR had earlier set emissions standards for different types of vehicles, including motorcycles, to conform to European standards.

Paje reported that the Philippines has also successfully implemented clean development mechanism (CDM) projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the use of environmentally sustainable fuel technologies.

“Our country is globally ranked 10th in terms of number of CDM projects, with 59 registered with the United Nations,” Paje said.

“The country’s success in implementing these CDM projects was also the reason why the Environmental Performance Index gave the Philippines a perfect score of 100 percent under the indicator for carbon dioxide per capita,” he added.

CDM is one of the instruments created by the Kyoto Protocol to facilitate carbon trading. It enables countries with emissions reductions commitments to reach their targets in an economically efficient way.

(Jonathan L. Mayuga)







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