“Government policies such as the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, Biofuels Act, oil deregulation law, Mining Act of 1995, Forestry Code, neo-liberal globalization, corruption, bureaucrat capitalism aggravate our climate vulnerability despite the signing of the CCA,” said Tapang.
He cited factors that adversely affect the ability of the community to respond, to cope with or recover easily from disaster events results to vulnerability. “These are high poverty incidence, high inflation rates, low wages despite the increasing daily cost of living, high unemployment and underemployment rate, landlessness/inequitable distribution of country’s resources,” Tapang said.
While the CCA’s National Framework and Strategy acknowledges the decline in agriculture and food security, the law does not mention land reform as a crucial adaptation measure to climate change. According to Cosico, farmers have traditional knowledge on what crops to plant that can adapt to climate change. They also have farming practices that could adapt to the effects of climate change such as a crop diversification system and seasonal climate forecast.
“Unfortunately, a large part of agricultural land are privately owned and used for commercial or industrial farming or corporate agriculture. The agriculture industry as well as the people’s food security, are vulnerable to the effects of global warming,” she said.
Boongaling also said that studies have shown that if the ownership and control of farmers over their land are stable, it allows them to be more flexible in the face of a rapidly changing climate. They could decide what plants to cultivate in what season and what technology to use that will give them the maximum yield with the least impact on the environment.
Ironically, International Financing Institutions (IFIs) have made a business out of the issue of climate change.
Boongaling cited provisions in the CCA that give the authority to the Climate Change Commission to recommend “key development investments” in climate sensitive areas. Its National Framework Strategy also identifies the development of a “competitive energy investment climate” as part of its mitigation strategy.
Because the government relies on IFIs to finance climate change mitigation programs of the government, the latter uses this as leverage to push for policies that would enable multinational corporations to earn more profits. The World Bank, for example, has its Climate Investment Funds. “The problem with these sources of funding is the existence of conditionalities,” Boongaling said. Hence, the state of the country’s economy would also be vulnerable to the increasing debt-burden, privatization of key industries and social sectors, speculation and financial instability, corruption, to name a few.
Even the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) uses the market-based approach in identifying responses to climate change. The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) mechanism is a mitigation option, a kind of international payment for ecosystem services. Through this mechanism, developed countries could pay developing countries like the Philippines for conserving its forests so that the world would turn a blind eye to the environmentally-destructive practices of the former. The REDD+ was passed in the Conference of the Parties (Cop) 15 negotiations in December 2009. The passage of REDD+ came about when the Cop failed to arrive at a binding agreement for countries under the United Nations. Cop is the governing body of the UNFCCC.
There are already existing REDD+ projects in the country and one is in Mindoro according to Boongaling. Issues like land grabbing also arise in the implementation of REDD+. Many indigenous peoples who live in the forest are prone to displacement because REDD+ project areas are restricted. The definition of forests under REDD+ is flawed. A plantation is considered as a forest. Landlords who own plantations, therefore, would have an opportunity to ask for funds to further monopolize the land.
“Governments from around the globe have repeatedly failed to come up with a lasting remedy and a truly pro-people response to the reality of climate change,” said the Philippine Watch Alliance, an alliance compromised of representatives of grassroots organizations, non-government organizations, community organizations, the scientific community and environmental groups that seeks to address and discuss the issue of climate change in the Philippines.
According to environmental groups, for as long as solutions to climate change are dictated by developing countries –the major culprits of climate change –these would surely fail. Take for example the Kyoto Protocol of 1998, a landmark international agreement that was signed by different countries to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impact of climate change. It miserably failed not only because it was not able to force developed countries to abide by the treaty, but it has also adapted market-based mechanisms to combat climate change.
The PCWA noted, “The Kyoto Protocol failed to achieve its mandate due to low targets, flawed mechanisms, lack of political will by nations – particularly the United States, which did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol – to cut down emissions, and the accommodation of market-based mechanisms which maintained the unsustainable global order of overproduction by developed countries and transnational corporations.”
As for the Philippines, the issue of climate change is an issue closely linked to social justice and national development. The country needs to come up with a solution based on the people’s welfare and interests. Boongaling said that to effectively confront climate change, the Philippine government needs to “initiate a radical shift in its overall framework to one that has a basic appreciation of the root of the current crisis, that would identify who are responsible and thus must be held accountable and that deals with climate change not simply as an environmental crisis.”?