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Velasco backs climate emergency declaration

Allan Velasco
SPEAKER Lord Allan Velasco. File photo by VER NOVENO

SPEAKER Lord Allan Velasco on Sunday said he fully supports the declaration of a climate emergency to encourage swift action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Velasco said the declaration would compel the government, including Congress, and other stakeholders to place climate change at the center of their policy and planning decisions.

“Declaring a climate emergency means recognizing that climate crisis is the fight of our lives and that there is an urgent need for a massive-scale mobilization to protect Filipinos and the environment from climate change and its devastating impacts,” Velasco said.

The House leader noted that the Philippines has been facing climate emergency for decades now with millions of Filipinos left to suffer the catastrophic effects of extreme weather events made stronger and more deadly by climate change.

Velasco said it is for this reason why the Philippines is considered as one of the most disaster-prone and climate-vulnerable countries in the world.

The Speaker stressed the massive devastation caused by recent tropical cyclones—including Supertyphoon Rolly and Typhoon Ulysses which claimed 73 lives and caused the worst flooding in Metro Manila and Cagayan Valley in years—has made it imperative for the country to pursue stronger climate-adaptive and -resilient measures.

“There will be more typhoons that will come our way, and we have to become better at preparations and in handling situations that call for sound judgment to prevent devastating death tolls and economic costs of future calamities,” Velasco said.

The House of Representatives recently unanimously adopted a resolution endorsed by the Committee on Climate Change declaring a climate and environmental emergency.

House Resolution (HR) 1377) also seeks to mobilize government agencies and instrumentalities, together with local government units, to effectively implement environmental, climate change adaptation and mitigation measures.

Also, the chamber’s Committee on Disaster Resilience has adopted HR 535 expressing the sense of the legislative body that there is a disaster climate emergency requiring a “whole-of-government, whole-of-society and whole-of-nation policy response to anticipate, halt, reduce, reverse, address and adopt to its impacts, consequences and causes.”

Velasco said the declaration of a climate emergency would amplify the country’s demand for climate justice from developed nations and help achieve its goals under the landmark Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

The Paris Agreement calls all signatory countries to submit stronger climate targets, known as Nationally Determined Contributions or NDCs, every five years. The NDCs state what each country will do at a national level to reduce emissions, enhance their resilience to climate change threats, and help finance climate action.