Climate-change management: The time is now

ariel-nepmucenoCLIMATE change is a daunting reality that poses the biggest threat to the survival of our planet and our people. Rapid economic gains and substantial population growth are increasing global demand for energy.  Traditional fossil fuels will still be our main source of energy, but in the meantime, the painful truth is that carbon-dioxide emissions are rising so quickly and the warming of our world is escalating to levels that science could not have reasonably predicted.

In the Philippines several scientific and policy studies reveal that the effects of climate change are slowly manifesting themselves in our midst. While not considered to be a major contributor to global climate-change statistics, the country’s greenhouse emissions rank in the top 25 percent among low- and middle-income nations. Recent studies show a big rise in sea levels and temperature. Weather-related incidents, like cyclones or typhoons, intense flooding and droughts in certain areas, are clear indications that global warming poses a real threat to the nation’s life.  One need not calculate the loss of lives and economic opportunities wrought by the aforementioned natural calamities to realize that a concrete road map to address climate change should be given utmost priority.

International obligation

The Kyoto protocol, which required governments to reduce their carbon emissions, shall  soon be expiring and the world is looking forward to the signing of a landmark agreement in the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December. Climate change is such a technically difficult, complex and oftentimes, politically sensitive issue that requires immense sovereign support from all players and stakeholders. Most often, it is forgotten that the basic challenge that our political leaders must confront is to halt the fast pace of global temperature increase caused by carbon emissions, and to lay down strong and firm government responses to meet this and other related targets.  It is hoped that the climate-change debates focus not on politics or power, but on core policies and action plans that deal with the findings of physics and chemistry, which have been known for more than 100 years.

Local response

The Philippine legislature passed the Climate Change Act in 2009, which created the Climate Change Commission.  The role of the latter is to develop an action plan to integrate national, local and private initiatives on climate change.  A welcome development is the fact that funding for climate-change programs have been increasing by more than 20 percent every year since 2009. Likewise, significant laws, such as the Philippine Clean Air Act, Bio Fuels Act and the Renewable Energy Act provide a regulatory framework for the achievement of said goals. Government agencies must also embark on energy-efficiency projects, actively advocate and promote less dependency on fossil fuels and incentivize carbon-emission reduction actions of private companies.

But fighting global warming is not the task of government alone. The role of private industry is extremely crucial to the success of our climate-change journey. Government and industry must work hand in hand to support an international agreement that puts a price on greenhouse emissions and exhorts companies to have carbon-dioxide reduction-management programs.  These programs should be able to track current emissions, forecast future ones, develop technologies and processes like carbon capture and storage, and demonstrate commitment to invest in other sustainable-energy sources like renewables, natural gas and biofuels.

Caring for the environment does not only make good business sense, but is most obviously basic common sense. And, indeed, we must stop believing that someone else will save the earth for us.


1 comment

  1. Mr. Nepomuceno, why dont you balance things out by also saying what the other other side is saying?. Why dont you say something about Roger Revelle(Gore’s mentor) who recanted his climate change view or Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore who says the advocates most from the Left are using scare tactics to overwhelm logic and reason on the issue or Weather Channel founder John Coleman who says that there is no significant man-made global warming now or what Al Gore exposed that he only based his move “The Inconvenient Truth” on the conclusion of one scientist and made over $173 million dollars from it after he was grilled by the US Congress (House & Senate separately); he only had $2 million when he left politics.

    Please be balanced for your readers sake. Thank you.

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