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Submitted by Stella Poletta on

After reading the WB report, as a Filipino I feel as though I am being admonished of having thrown a small pebble in the moving waters of the lake where before me, some have already thrown massive and heavy volcanic rocks! The case is the same with the arguments of climate change. The Philippines is not a highly industrialized nation with large manufacturing activity which by logic apart from scientific data tell us that the country has minimally contributed to the global gas emission. Heck, most of the rural communities in the large island of Mindanao have rotational and prolonged brown-outs that in terms of energy use, the nation is still far from being modern and contributor of global pollution. On the contrary, the Philippines (the small pebble) is the recipient and basin of the effects of the climate change caused by heavy industrialization of developed countries (volcanic rocks). Instead of asking the review of our climate change efforts for mitigation and adaptation, I think it should have been we as Filipinos asking for the damages of the continuous typhoons and floods the country is experiencing right now. But as the country is promoting itself as a developing country, civilized and adhering to globalization and unity of resolving climate change issues, we surmise that playing as a victim is not the road best to undertake. Rather, since the Aquino government administration, efforts have been directed for both the mitigation and adaptation projects to confront the climate change phenomena such as renewable energy projects while the present government of Duterte is revolutionizing the mining industry and logging for more environment friendly policies and practices. In this light of current commendable efforts of the Filipino people to confront the concerns of climate change, the WB review comes as pessimistic, not realistic and undermining the necessity of the developing nations such as the Philippines to create a balance between the need to sustain the economic growth and food security of Filipinos while maintaining to live well in a friendly environment.

In essence, the review has highlighted how adaptation activities is overcoming the demanded mitigation priorities and how funds for climate change of the government was mainly utilized for response, recovery and rehabilitation efforts such as flood control projects. What should be done according to the review is to prioritize the mitigation activities such as prevention instead of adaptive measures such as building dams for flood control and management. At a first glance, we can observe how the demands of the review is in striking contrast to the urgent and necessary actions of the country in assuring the security of its constituents. The flood control and management activities are actually done out of necessity and not in terms of priority. As expected, to secure the safety of the people in times of disaster is more demanding of time, efforts and funds than preventive activities and projects beforehand. In addition, to prioritize the mitigation policies is a deterrence to the nation’s aim of economic growth and energy security which necessarily comes along with it. The Philippines, recognizant of the effects of coal plants emission of gas, has incentivized the initiatives of the renewable energy projects such as the Burgos wind energy plant. But to completely reply on this alternative energy now which is also cost exorbitant, means halting sharply the economic gains that the country has painstakingly achieved apart from depriving the rural communities of improvement in basic electricity and food security most especially in the areas of Mindanao. In the near future, it is hoped though that innovations in technology will provide less costly solar energy resources in which case the Philippines will benefit most being in a tropics with high daily sun exposure. For the meantime, it highly unthinkable to force the country to rely solely in alternative energy instead of coal. By doing so, it is either future Filipinos will die with hunger due to enormous national debt (from the WB for example) while current citizens live in green or adopt adaptive measures to climate change now and both current and future citizens will live in peace!

In my opinion, it is to the best interest of every state to provide the ideals of achieving economic growth and stability while living in harmony with its eco-system and environment. To achieve these goals, the research and review of major institutions like World Bank is beneficial to the society. However, it is I believe necessary to review issues such as global climate change in the context of the “localized” scenario instead of applying the same treaties of solution to all concerned nations. In short, the concerns and situations of a developing country such as the Philippines is entirely different from the small country of Belgium in Europe or the larger United States of America (by the way, USA has still not ratified the treaty of Paris climate change while the EU has adopted measures both to mitigate and adapt). One of these localized concerns of the country which I believe will be the major contributor to the pollution is the rapid increase of population growth. Yet, I do not see any mention of this concern. I believe that the concerns of climate change in the Philippines must be tackled in pragmatic manner and by addressing the most essential factor such as the increase in population growth while adopting the adaptation measures. For this matter, the Filipino government and intellectual community has the knowledge, capacity and know-how to confront this problem as this has been a dilemma for many decades now, without necessarily resorting to higher levels of financing as recommended in this review which will only augment the already high national debt the country has.