PGMA expresses concern over coral reef preservation; attends climate change confab in North Sulawesi

May 14, 2009 3:20 am 

By Joel C. Atencio

MANILA, May 13 -– President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is very much concerned about the preservation of coral reefs in the Philippine seas and surrounding nations as well as the climate change issue that is affecting millions of Filipinos.

The President will be attending the World Ocean Conference (WOC) on May 14 in Manado, North Sulawesi, Indonesia, wherein she will be joined by other leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

"She will lead the Philippines in lobbying ASEAN to push for bolder and significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by developed countries,” Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said in his press briefing today in Malacañang.

Ermita said Presidential Adviser on Global Warming and Climate Change Secretary Heherson T. Alvarez will also join the President in the Manado summit.

Alvarez left for Indonesia Wednesday to present a paper on “Improving Coastal Communities' Preparedness and Resilience to Climate Change Impacts” at the conference.

"The living conditions of more than half of the Filipino population –- those living in coastal areas throughout the country -– are in peril because of climate change, a commonality that we share with our ASEAN neighbors,” Alvarez said in a statement.

"A year 2000 study reported that 70 percent of our 72 million population reside in and near coastal areas, with 80 percent of provinces and 65 percent of cities and municipalities located along coastlines which support major economic activities like fishing, tourism and farming," he noted.

"We assert that timely and adequate measures to reduce the emissions be undertaken globally in accordance with the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities, equity and justice of the Convention on Climate Change,” Alvarez said.

At the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) sessions in Bonn, Germany last month, Alvarez, who headed the Philippine delegation, submitted the country’s position for bolder and substantial cuts of greenhouse emissions by developed countries.

"The Philippine position is an effort to re-define the emission reduction table and create a global sensitivity to the destructive impacts of storms to vulnerable low-lying archipelagic nations like the Philippines,” said the former senator and environment secretary

He said "deep and early cuts could moderate these storms, which are the initial brunt of a serious problem that we call 'creeping climate change' – a phenomenon that is 'below the radar' and remains undetected by low capacity monitoring systems of developing and least developed countries."

“Our country is visited by 20 tropical cyclones each year, with an annual average loss of Php7.9 billion in lives and property. These storms are becoming more ferocious each year, threatening our food and life support systems. We ask the ASEAN to adopt this position as our collective response to moderate the aggressive escalation of typhoons,” Alvarez urged.

He added, “The cut is not just to avert climate change but to avert creeping climate change. We cannot wait for global emissions to peak in 2050 while we suffer from repeated devastation of our land and our people. A delayed reduction table may not be of much benefit to archipelagic low-lying communities like the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia.” (PNA) scs/JCA/utb

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