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Inquiry into PH greenhouse emissions sought

MANILA, Philippines – Metro Manila is seen blanketed with smog as seen in the morning of 5 Feb 2017. The Philippines intends to undertake a 70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from its 2000 levels by 2030. Photo by MARK CAYABYAB/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

Senator Win Gatchalian is calling for the scrutiny of the level of the Philippines’ greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and an update on the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), the plan to ensure that the country meets its intended commitment to reduce at least 70 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 conditioned on external support pursuant to the Paris Agreement.

Senator Win Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, recently filed a resolution directing the appropriate senate committee to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the status of the country’s GHG emissions and NDC.

Gatchalian’s call for a probe into the country’s GHG emissions came a week after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the Department of Energy to transition into cleaner energy alternatives, including solar and wind, and reduce the country’s dependence on coal.

“There is a need for Congress to examine (1) the efforts of various government agencies in arriving at their respective sectoral NDCs and their specific adaptation and mitigation strategies, and (2) the status of the country’s GHG emissions in relation to the development of the NDC with the end in view of ensuring compliance with the Paris Agreement,” Gatchalian said.

“The State has the constitutional obligation to protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature,” he added.

Gatchalian said the Philippines has until 2020 to submit its NDC detailing mitigation and adaptation measures to be undertaken to address climate change.

However, the lawmaker pointed out that the government agencies “have yet to finalize their submissions for the NDCs and some are still conducting their respective stakeholder consultations,” six months before the 2020 deadline.

Moreover, Gatchalian said the only available official data on the Philippines’ GHG emissions dates back to the year 2000 at 126.879 gigagrams of carbon dioxide equivalent.

On October 1, 2015, the Philippines submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), where the country manifested to undertake a 70% reduction in GHG emissions from its 2000 levels by 2030 entirely conditional on external support.

The following year, the country inked the Paris Agreement, which establishes a global warming goal of below 2°C from pre-industrial averages and requests, upon ratification, for a definite voluntary pledge on emission reduction as the signatory country’s NDC.

President Duterte signed the Instrument of Accession to the Paris Agreement on February 28, 2017, which was unanimously concurred by the Senate on March 14, 2017, thereby completing the ratification process. The Instrument of Accession was accepted by the UNFCCC on March 23, 2017, and it officially entered into force on April 22, 2017.