Philippines Environment Secretary Atienza meets with world leaders on climate change

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza today began attending side meetings with some heads of state and environment leaders to discuss common measures to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions and explore ways in getting support for developing countries, like the Philippines, hardest hit by the effects of climate change.

“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions require concerted global actions,” Atienza said. “We must act together and along with other developing countries strongly clamoring for the setting up of the Adaptation Fund to assist poor and highly vulnerable countries with technologies and other forms of incentives to protect their forests, corals, biodiversity, among others, from global warming.”

He added “forest degradation, for instance, cause greenhouse gas emissions while forest protection ensures the continued absorption by the trees of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” said Atienza.

The DENR chief is in Bali, Indonesia as head of the Philippine delegation at the ongoing 13th Session of the Conference of Parties (COP) to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the 3rd Meeting of Parties (MOP) of the Kyoto Protocol opened in the island of Bali in Indonesia. About 10,000 delegates representing 190 countries are attending in Bali conferences.

Atienza said the Philippines is one of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, especially in terms of extreme weather events. He explained that the country, being located in the typhoon belt in the Pacific. On the average of 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year and the number of super typhoons has been increasing in recent years.

“With strong typhoons and mountainous topography, the Philippines suffers from numerous landslides and flooding which claim a huge toll in lives lost,” Atienza said.

He added that agricultural production and food security are always threatened by droughts. Flooding brings with it higher incidences of water-borne diseases like dengue and malaria, with the poor, the elderly, the children and the sick absorbing the brunt of suffering.

“The Philippine greenhouse gas emission is estimated at only 0.38% of global emissions. This means we hardly contribute to the problem of greenhouse gas emissions, yet we suffer immensely from the effects of climate change.”

Atienza said the Bali conferences are expected to tackle highly controversial issues, including the greenhouse gas reduction arrangement after 2012, when the present mandatory reduction will end. “How extensive is the reduction of greenhouse gas and will it be voluntary or mandatory are some of the contentious details to be tacked,” he said.

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