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Is the Philippines’ climate law the best in the world?

By Tierney Smith

The climate change laws in the Philippines are “best in world” according to a UN special envoy.

Margareta Wahlström, the special Disaster Risk Reduction representative of the UN Secretary General praised the Philippines for the law on climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction for taking a lead in the global campaign to mitigate the risk from climate change.

Speaking at a press conference in the country she said: “You do have now an excellent legal framework for disaster risk reduction and an excellent framework for climate adaptation. The basis [of the laws] is really for empowering local governments.”

The aim of the Philippine Climate Change Act is to protect the rights of the people in harmony with nature (© Jonicdao/Creative Commons)

She stressed that the laws represented a policy shift from reactionary to proactive and commended Senator Loren Legarda for her work in creating the laws.

The climate laws in the Philippines consist of two Acts of Parliament. The first, passed in 2009 was the Climate Change Act which created the Climate Change Commission to tackle related issues across the country.

This Commission then cosponsored the second of the Philippines laws the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010.

What makes these laws the best in the world?

Let’s compare these laws to the UK Climate Change Act of 2008. In a similar way the Philippines laws set out a Climate Change Commission to tackle climate change, the UK’s Committee on Climate Change was also founded as provision to the 2008 law.

However, beyond this the law also laid out clear targets for the country to reduce its emissions by 80% by 2050 on 1990 levels and to set out 5 yearly carbon budgets and incentive mechanism to help the country achieve this aim.

In the same way, the latest country to pass climate laws, Mexico will also set out clear budgets on emission reductions within this legislation as well as establishing a voluntary carbon trading scheme.

Unlike these laws, the Philippines Climate Change Act of 2009 has no legally binding targets on greenhouse gas emissions and it has no targets on renewables.

However, reading over the country’s climate laws, some aspects do make the Philippines stand out as progressive when it comes to the ways in which they plan for climate change and help it live up to the new title given to it by Wahlström.

The Act aims to include all agencies in the creating climate change policy, inclduing trade and industry (© Oddbjorn Manen/UN Photo)

An inclusion of all relevant departments and agencies:

One of the major criticisms of climate policy, the world over, is that it is often treated as an isolated issue, and dealt with by a few specific departments and organisations. How many times before have we heard that their needs to be a more joined up approach to climate policy?

Written into the 2009 Act was the premise that the advisory boards to any Commission should include secretaries from the Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Environment and Natural Resources as well as Education, Foreign Affairs, Health and Interior and Local Government.

Other sectors included in the Commission include Defence, Science and Technology, Industry and Development, showing a multi-faceted approach to climate change.

Outside organisations including representatives for women, from provinces and cities, from industry, education and civil society are also included in the Commission which meets at least four times a year.

To further ensure this cross-sector and cross-department approach is taken it is written into the Act for “the State to systematically integrate the concept of climate change in various phases of policy formulation, development plans, poverty reduction strategies and other development tools and techniques by all agencies and instrumentalities of government.”

Implementation of local and national adaptation plans

The Philippines Climate Change Act implemented a National Climate Change Action Plan including national impacts of climate change, the identification of vulnerable communities and areas including ecosystems, identification of disproportionate impact on men, women and children, an assessment of management of risks and the identification of greenhouse has mitigation potentials.

Alongside this, however, it also proposed a series of Local Climate Change Action Plans which would allow frontline agencies to formulate, plan and implement plans in their area within the framework of the National Plan.

The work done by municipal and city governments would then feed back into the National Plan. The Bill also called for municipal and city governments to consider climate change adaptation, as one of their regular functions.

The Act also aims to bring gender and youth issues to the forefront of climate debate (© Jean Perre Laffont/UN Photo)

Focus on Gender and youth involvement

Another area where more work has to be done globally is the inclusion of women, and the youth in climate change policy. While this is slowly improving, there is still a lot more to be done to both acknowledge the impacts of a changing climate on these vulnerable groups but also the power they have in driving change.

In the Philippine’s Climate Change Act and the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act mentions of both women and children are in abundance including “the policy of the State to incorporate a gender-sensitive, pro-children and pro-poor perspective in all climate change and renewable energy efforts” and to “conduct early recovery and post-disaster needs assessment institutionalising gender analysis.”

The depth and bravery of the Philippines’ law should provide food for thought for national negotiators as they gather in Bonn next week for the next round of UN negotiations on climate change.

How do you think the Philippines has done? Should the EU be matching this? What about other developing economies?

Let us know what you think. Leave us a comment below, leave a post on our Facebook page, tweet us @rtccnewswire or email info@rtcc.org.


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  • john

    This is a farce. Where is the department of transportation in the advisory board. You are not brave if you dont tackle the most obvious problems that not only contribute to increase in climate temperature but is a public health issue that gives asthma to our children. Fix the air pollution.

  • c5cjr

    creating & implementing laws are two different things, PH has too many good laws but never been implemented

  • Neil

    I live in the Philippines and while implementation is still a challenge, the outlined strategies are really good. A decade ago, you will seldom hear or see children, farmers and fishermen talk about protecting the environment. Now, it seems that everyone has an idea on how climate change can affect their livelihood. One might observe these awareness in rural areas…but there’s little of it in urban Philippines.

    Still, the country still need a large number of leaders with political power to keep the momentum.

  • phinazh

    Viva Filipinas!

  • Sinoo

    They will also sing and dance for a handout. They have a ton of laws, but they are NEVER guilty enforced. All you have to do is slice money under the table and you get away with ANYTHING.

  • Regie Tagavilla

    It’s a start. What the people should really know more is the cause of global warming? And what are the things that each individual can contribute to lessen these causes?

    While METHANE has been the MAJOR CAUSE of GLOBAL WARMING, it is carbon emission that’s being pinpointed. While switching to VEGAN DIET is the best solution, MITIGATION is what they are talking about.

  • speten

    I agree. I am a Filipino and yes there are a lot of good laws here in the Philippines. Implementation is yet another task needed. Good laws without practice just trash :D

  • Arnel Alipao

    Definitely true!!! Philippine LAWS with respect to climate change and disaster risk reduction are really commendable. What is there that needs to be given an emphasis is the firm implementation of these laws from National down to Local units of governance. Because what we really need this time is a true GOOD GOVERNANCE!

  • Doonie

    Marami sa ating mga kababayan ang wala ng tiwala sa Gobyerno ng Pilipinas. Meron batas o wala nasa sarili na natin pag papasya kung ano nararapat gawin para maisakatuparan ang adaptation sa Climate Change. Huwag na natin iasa pa sa Gobyerno. Juan at Pedro isa ka sa makakalutas ng lumalalang problema ng mundo ang “Global warming”. Pag isipan mo sa sarili mo ano ba ang maitutulong para mapabagal ang pag lala o tuluyang pag kasira ng mundo? Natanong mo na ba sa sarili mo yan?