Addressing climate crisis with PHL: Germany partners for a greener world

THE catastrophic effects of the ongoing climate crisis can be felt extensively in many parts of the globe, with the Philippines being one of the most vulnerable countries.

With this in mind, Germany is upholding its promise to help create a greener planet, while limiting global warming both nationally and internationally.

“We consider the climate crisis the greatest security challenge of our time. The world cannot afford to wait longer. We need to end the fossil age, and rapidly reduce emissions,” Ambassador Anke Reiffenstuel said.

“This is why Germany has massively upped the pace on the shift to green energy, with the aim of being climate neutral by 2045. Globally, [my country is a reliable partner of those] that are vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as the Philippines,” Reiffenstuel further stated. “Being a priority country of the International Climate Initiative, Germany is currently implementing more than 50 projects with a total volume of more than €88 million [or around P5.2 billion] in the areas of climate, environment and biodiversity.”

Germany’s foreign minister Annalena Baerbock reemphasized her country’s commitment at the recent Conference of the Parties, or COP27, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt: “[We are] putting climate justice at the top of our agenda,” she said, and added that the European country was to raise its contribution for climate finance directed to emerging and developing countries at the tune of $6 billion per year.

Baerbock also stressed the “breakthrough on the issue of loss and damage” that was achieved in the conference, which is “opening up a new chapter in the area of climate justice.”

During its “G7” presidency, Germany also initiated the development of a “Global Shield Against Climate Risks,” which was unanimously supported by the group. The Global Shield, officially launched on November 14, 2022 at the COP 27, systematically analyzes—country by country—gaps in protection, and works with those hardest hit by climate change to develop protection packages, as well as financial protection against climate-related loss and damage.

Environment-friendly transport systems

SINCE 2014 German development agency Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) has been implementing projects that aim to transform the local public-transport system—a key sector for reducing emissions in the Philippines.

Jeepneys, a part of everyday Filipino life, use diesel—a fossil fuel proven to contribute to the production of ground-level ozone. Traffic jams in the city provoke longer idle time for the said vehicles and others that employ fossil fuels. According to a GIZ study published in 2016, there are 250,000 jeepneys in the Philippines, with 55,000 of them operating in Metro Manila alone. They account for 40 percent of vehicle trips, making them the biggest greenhouse-gas emissions contributor in the transport sector.

Together with the Department of Transportation, the GIZ embarked on the “Jeepney+ NAMA,” or Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action project, which aimed to create a modern, sustainable and climate-friendly transport system in Philippine cities. By 2026 the project strives to modernize jeepney fleets and reduce the share of diesel-powered vehicles by 22 percent. This means replacing them with electric jeepneys and public-transport vehicles that follow the Euro-4 emission norms.

The project also helps craft systems that will make public transport more efficient for users. Institutional reorganization and planning will also help fully modernize the country’s jeepneys.

“The transport sectors both in Germany and in the Philippines [are] key when it comes to reducing emissions. Focusing on public transportation benefits especially the lower-income segments of society, and has positive, sustainable long-term effects,” Reiffenstuel explained.

She went further that Germany has expanded its rail networks and financially incentivized the use of public transportation, while taxes on airfares were increased. At the same time, the said country has invested in making cycling more attractive and in incentivizing individuals to switch to e-mobility.

The envoy added that the “Jeepney+” project doesn’t stop there: The aim is to help create people-oriented cities, empowered by efficient, dignified and sustainable mobility. Through another GIZ-powered project called “TRANSfer,” similar efforts are being implemented to also modernize the Philippines’s bus systems.

Climate resiliency among farmers

ANOTHER crucial but vulnerable sector affected by the climate crisis is agriculture, especially in Mindanao. Typhoons, floods and droughts—induced by the climate crisis—are now more frequent and destructive, leaving farmers’ livelihood at risk.

Partnering with the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, World Vision and GIZ, the German government is helping farmers adapt to climate change, while teaching them about eco-friendly practices that will sustain their yield.

The project initially focuses on farmers located on the North Cotabato side of the Liguasan Marsh: a low-lying tract of land that gets flooded during the rainy season. In such areas, floodwater takes longer to dissipate after heavy rains.

“Every year farmers lose so much of their crops due to the effects of climate change,” said Executive Director Marlon P. Palomo of PRRM. “This leads to financial loss for the farmer, but also has an effect on the rest of the country, as it means less rice and produce will be available for sale, leading to higher prices.”

As of September 2022, 360 farmers are now undergoing capacity-building workshops. These include biointensive gardening practices, information on the “Systems of Rice Intensification” methodology, and even seed banking to ensure genetic diversity in the area. Farmers are also being taught on ways to compost and make natural fertilizers for organic produce.

Keeping the world informed

JOURNALISTS reporting on climate change carry the heavy burden of being the bearers of mostly bad news. As the world grapples with the pressure to adapt to climate change, the information is sometimes met with rejection and denial.

Armed with data and credibility, it is the members of the press’ job to help the world understand what is going on, and inform ways to help prevent the climate crisis from getting worse.

Through a five-day training with mentors like journalist Kyle James and Project Officer Deborah Urban of the Deutsche Welle Akademie, Filipino journalists from seven different news organizations went through an intensive course in October 2022 on the manner to better report about the climate.

Participating media practitioners were provided with an overview of global warming’s causes and consequences, and were briefed on safety and security issues. They were also trained to better understand and use data to ultimately become better storytellers.

The journalists were given the chance to hear practical tips from Imelda Albano, the founding president of the Philippine Network of Environmental Journalists, and senior coordinator for the Philippines and the Pacific Region of Internews’ Earth Journalism Network.

Participants and their mentors also visited  the Technical Education And Skills Development Authority’s main building and Green Technology Center to witness first-hand how projects like the “Greening Technical Vocational Education and Training and Skills Development” bring new employment opportunities to Filipinos, and improve existing job profiles to accelerate the transition to green economies and sustainable societies.

In the wake of Typhoon Paeng (international name Nalgae), Germany redirected part of the ​​P70.4-million (€1.2-million) donation through the International Organization for Migration’s strategic response and recovery plan for Covid-19 for the Philippines, to enable emergency assistance for communities affected by the typhoon.

Addressing climate change is a long and arduous process. Reiffenstuel however assures the Philippines that Germany will remain a committed partner in this fight.


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