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Interfaith Leaders Laud President Aquino’s Carbon Cut Target

Ambitious target sets tone for next PH presidents to 2030

National leaders of the Interfaith Movement on Climate Change yesterday lauded President Benigno Aquino’s decision targeting a 70 percent reduction in Philippine greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Bishop Noel Pantoja, executive director of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), and Cagayan de Oro Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, S. J., also head of the Climate Change Congress of the Philippines (CCCP), said the target was “sufficiently ambitious for the Philippines, one of the world’s most battered countries, annually ravaged by fierce storm surges and super typhoons.” 

The church leaders were briefed on the Philippines Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) by Commissioner Heherson T. Alvarez, convenor of the Interfaith Dialogue (IFD) conferences being held around the country.  Bishop of Bayombong Ramon B. Villena, D.D., also shares the sentiments of Pantoja and Ledesma.

Alvarez, former chair of the Senate committee on environment, separately discussed the INDC to Amina Rasul Bernardo, president of the Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy, and Imam Akmad B. Wahab, national coordinator of the Imam Council of the Philippines and Executive Director of the Fil-Muslim Youth Council for Peace and Development.   

Under the INDC, which was submitted on October 1, 2015 to the UN Framework on Climate Change Convention, the Philippines seeks  to reduce  GHG  emissions by some  70% by 2030 relative to its business-as-usual scenario of 2000-2030. 

Reduction of carbon emissions will primarily be in the energy, transport, waste, forestry and industry sectors. But the mitigation contribution is conditioned on the extent of financial resources, technology transfer, and capacity-building made available to the country.

“This will be a very crucial guideline to achieve an ambitious target in accordance with the spirit of the new UN agreement to cut CO2 and ultimately eliminate this destructive GHG from the world energy system,” Alvarez said. 

According to Alvarez, the target set by President Aquino as Chair of the Climate Change Commission, is the beginning of a long effort that will challenge the next three presidents of the country until 2030. 

Alvarez is optimistic that within that 15-year period the Aquino reduction target of 70% would be met.  “The Philippines would be a global exemplar as technology would play a key role, as shown with the progressively diminishing cost of alternative technology - the radical drop of price of solar panels,  or with  the  emergence of new lower cost in technology of hydro, wind and geothermal all of which the Philippines have in abundance,” Alvarez explained. 

The Muslim leaders of the Interfaith Climate Change Movement, Rasul and Akmad,  is optimistic that  the goal will help preserve Mindanao’s resources and hasten development of its geothermal and other clean energy resources.  

Pantoja said the IFD reflects the resolve of various faith groups to establish a participatory mechanism for communities to work together, minimizing the dangers from floods, super typhoons, and natural disasters.

First convened in 2010 by Alvarez, the Interfaith Dialogues, participated by more than a thousand religious and civic organizations all over the country, have always stressed that carbon is the cause of global warming resulting in destructive impacts of climate change – catastrophic typhoons, unprecedented floods, and droughts.  IFD has been encouraging and supporting social actions on local and national climate change challenges. The actions include climate education and environmental campaigns for carbon cutting through reduction of fossil fuel use, indigenous people’s cooperation in agro-forestry projects, and sustainable livelihood programs for the marginalized sectors of society.

The IFD provides opportunities to enhance respect between individuals of various creeds and religions and to understand their role as stewards of creation, said Bishop Ledesma, stressing the need for government to educate the people about the INDC and the meaning of the Paris conference for humanity.  

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03 October 2015