TABUK CITY, Kalinga, Sept. 24 (PIA) -- The Cordillera region watershed areas supplying the major river networks that traverse various food production areas in the region and the Cagayan Valley provinces are crucial in sustaining the life support system not only of Northern Luzon but the entire country.
Commissioner of the Climate Change Commission Heherson T. Alvarez underscored this during a recent meeting with the officials of Tabuk city and the private sectors saying that this is the reason why the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is tapping Tabuk City to be the model in the preparation programs in mitigating climate change in the region.
Alvarez emphasized the need to prepare the people on the inevitable occurrence of changing weather conditions and the impact it may cause on the people and their communities.
This is where the local government and private sector play an important role in adopting the anticipatory approach to possible disasters to help build resiliency among communities, he said.
The fight against climate change, according to Alvarez, is a “daunting task, but if we work together (through public private partnership) it would be easier to accomplish something.”
He said that climate change is upon us, that if we do not address the issues now, the whole civilization will be endangered.
In the Cordilleras, the preparation, he said, would focus in sustaining the forest and watershed areas to prevent the drying up of the farmlands in the region and the lowland areas. He said that based on reports, around five hectares of forest cover in the region are being destroyed annually.
Recovery of these lost forest cover he said needs to be addressed and strategically planned to maximize funds and resources.
Alvarez was recently in the city for the memorandum of agreement (MOA) signing for the conduct of projects for the mitigation of climate with Tabuk City as the pilot area in CAR.
Signatories of the MOA were the Tabuk City government in partnership with the LikasDiwa Foundation Inc., DENR, PENRO Kalinga, Kalinga-Apayao State College and the Tabuk Waters.
Alvarez also graced the "Tabuk City: Handa sa Climate Change Forum" participated by the academe, local officials and representatives from the private sector. (JDP/GGD-PIA CAR, Kalinga)
24 September 2012
by Geraldine G. Dumallig
PARTICIPANTS of a two-day Asian conference in Manila vowed to work for a unified green-building standards and a viable green-rating system to set a specific target for annual reduction of carbon footprints for the building sector.
The move was in response to the challenge of Climate Change Commissioner Heherson Alvarez, who called on the building sector to set target goals for the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emission.
Alvarez said there is a need for buildings that are environment-friendly and efficient in the use of space, energy and water.
Buildings account for 39 percent of CO2 emissions globally.
“In the Philippines,” Alvarez said, “the building sector is the second-largest carbon-dioxide emitter next to the transport sector.”
“It is high time that our engineers and architects put their words into action being men of precise calculation and numbers. A paradigm shift must be made to green buildings and bring the Philippines up to global standards in sustainable buildings and construction techniques,” Alvarez said.
The conference, billed as an “Asian Technoforum on Sustainability,” was held on November 8 and 9, and sponsored by the Architects Regional Council Asia, Philippine Green Building Initiative (PGBI) and allied organizations at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.
Architect Michael Ang of the United Architects of the Philippines (UAP), the conference’s director, announced that the calls and recommendations made by Alvarez would be heeded by the industry with urgency.
He asked Alvarez to guide the builders’ group in setting the target for an annual CO2-emission reduction by next year.
To help cut CO2 and greenhouse-gas emission, Alvarez encouraged the participating organizations from across Asia to replicate best practices.
He recommended to the PGBI and its allies to study, adopt or modify the green standards established by Singapore’s Building and Construction Authority (BCA).
Singapore is using its land, water, energy and other resources in the most efficient, prudent and pragmatic ways.
Singapore’s sustainable development program has set a target of achieving an 80-percent compliance with its BCA Green Mark certification rating by 2030 and an energy-efficiency target of 35-percent reduction from the 2005 level by 2030.
Also, Alvarez said PGBI should establish a working group to look into US developments on zero-energy commercial buildings or zero-energy buildings (ZEBs) that “use no more energy over the course of the year than it produces from on-site renewable source.”
Newly constructed ZEBs on the US Pacific Coast are gaining wide international attention from engineering and conservation groups.
ZEBs are constructed using readily available technology, with an integrated design, as well as mechanical and electrical systems, that achieve high levels of energy efficiency.
Last, the UAP, the Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers, PGBI and allies must start drafting a proposed legislation that will establish a national green-building code.
The proposed code, Alvarez said, should include an evaluation process and rate buildings on their sustainability, site development, energy use, water consumption, natural-lighting quality, use of green materials and other vital considerations.
17 November 2012
by Jonathan L. Mayuga
THE government master plan that calls for at least P351.72 billion in infrastructure spending for major flood-control projects in Metro Manila and Laguna de Bay should be reviewed thoroughly.
This appeal was made by former Sen. Heherson Alvarez, a member of the Climate Change Commission (CCC) chaired by President Aquino, who argued that building the 11 infrastructure projects, including a large dam in Marikina that will cost P198.43 billion, should be studied in the context of climate change.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) also plans to set aside some P84 billion for its flood-control projects from 2011 to 2016.
Another snag to the purported comprehensive plan is the fact that the government is still locked in a legal battle with Baggerwerken Decloedt en Zoon (BDC), a Belgian company that was contracted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) during the Arroyo administration to dredge the 94,900-hectare Laguna de Bay.
BDC has sued the Philippine government before the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (Icsid) in Washington, D.C. for scrubbing the P18.7-billion contract under orders of President Aquino and is seeking at least P6 billion in damages.
The company is 150 years old and had been engaged in dredging projects in China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Vietnam, the US, Belgium, the Netherlands, Mexico and in Africa.
BDC officials earlier told the BusinessMirror that a 100-kilometer ring dike planned for Laguna de Bay “won’t work as planned.”
Filiep de Zutter, project manager for the Laguna Lake Rehabilitation Project (LLRP), said the dike would not keep the water away and would even block traditional waterways.
De Zutter stressed that “stopping the quick rate of siltation would improve the water holding capacity of the country’s biggest lake.”
LLRP was designed to deepen the lake by taking out silt, treating it and establishing wetlands at two points of the lake, one each for Laguna and Rizal.
It also called for putting deep silt traps in the 24 tributaries of the lake to reduce the rate of siltation and make it easier to take out the sediments.
Mr. Aquino condemned the project, insisting that the silt will only be transferred even as the BDC said the silt will be treated and placed in the wetlands that would be laced with geotextiles to act as sieves.
“It is not a case of merely dumping silt from one part to another coastal area of the lake,” de Zutter explained.
BDC also acceded to work on the Marikina Watershed to stop the entry of about 2.4 million cubic meters of silt to Laguna de Bay annually.
The Belgian company also worked for the extension of official development assistance (ODA) to the Philippine government to finance the project but the money has languished with Banque Paribas, with the administration saddled with commitment fees that have already accumulated since 2010.
BDC said the best way to safeguard the environmental integrity of Laguna de Bay is to prevent its use as a large septic tank, with large concentrations of estrogen in urine feminizing the six remaining species of fish inhabiting the lake.
From an average depth of 30 meters a century ago, the lake is now only 2.5 meters deep, which makes it a bad source of potable water for southern National Capital Region (NCR).
Icsid hearings on the case started in June and are proceeding apace, with legal experts saying it may not take a year to resolve.
The Philippines previously lost at least three cases before Icsid, two of them on energy projects.
Pointing out that the country’s scarce resources must be strategically deployed, Alvarez said these are enormous investments that are likely to be wasted if climate-change science and sensitivity are not factored into engineering plans.
“While the DPWH program is a very comprehensive initiative, we must anticipate extreme situations and the prolonged impacts of climate change that will adversely affect many aspects of conventional infrastructure development and engineering, like a sudden river rise of 1-meter scenario under continuous heavy rains,” Alvarez stressed.
“The proposed dikes, river walls and revetments, mini dams, drainage mains, and flood gates, embankments and catch basins should be designed to withstand the destructive powers of super typhoons, monstrous floods, including sea level rise because of global warming.” he added.
Citing the flashfloods on Monday after only an hour of heavy downpour, Alvarez said the drainage systems in Metro Manila should be improved and developed to accommodate the massive volume of rainfall as the country experiences an average of 20 typhoons a year and will increase in frequency and escalate in strength in the coming years.
14 September 2012
by Marvyn N. Benaning
Parts of Metro Manila went under several feet of water on Saturday after heavy rains lashed the capital overnight, forcing more than 400 people to flee their homes, officials said.
The downpour stopped by mid-morning, allowing evacuees to return to their homes. But weathermen warned that heavy monsoon rains could continue through Tuesday.
A strong typhoon (“Sanba”) moving towards Japan “has no direct effect (on the Philippines) but it enhanced the southwestern monsoon so we will continue to experience rains,” said government meteorologist Gary de la Cruz.
Low-lying coastal areas of the capital were hardest hit, forcing people to flee their homes, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.
In Quezon City, hard hit areas included Barangays Doña Imelda, Sto. Domingo, Mariblo, Roxas district, Damayan Lagi, Tatalon and Masambong. Safety officials dispatched 12 rescue boats to Tatalon district.
At least 10 domestic flights were cancelled and universities in affected areas called off Saturday classes.
Although the heavy rains eased later in the day, De la Cruz said the country could continue to suffer downpours until Tuesday.
So far, Sanba has caused only one fatality in the Philippines, a fisherman who ventured out to sea on Sept. 12 but whose body was recovered only two days later, the disaster management council said.
Storms and flooding from torrential rains affected more than two million people in August and killed scores.
Climate Change Commissioner Heherson Alvarez has called for a review of the comprehensive flood management plans of the Department of Public Works and Highways.
In an interview with the Inquirer, Alvarez said that any master plan to reduce the vulnerability of Metro Manila and outlying regions to flooding and extraordinary rainfall must be “climate change sensitive.”
He described as “not well conceived” the DPWH master plan which calls for at least P351.72 billion ($8.4 billion) in infrastructure spending, including major flood control projects.
Alvarez said the plan needed to take into account the intensifying and destructive impacts of extreme weather anomalies. He suggested it be carefully restudied from the perspectives of climate change-oriented engineers.
Alvarez said the DPWH must also get inputs from experts from the Department of Science and Technology as well as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in putting together a comprehensive approach to solve the flooding.
He said the DOST had instruments that could read the volume of moisture to anticipate downpours while the DENR could be tapped for reforestration and greening to absorb surface water.
The Philippines has been identified as one of three countries most vulnerable to climate change, after Tonga and Vanuatu.
Thus, adaptation measures such as flood control plans require close coordination between scientific and technical bodies to plan effective measures against escalating storm surges in the next five or 10 decades, Alvarez explained.
Alvarez said the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) reported that global warming, caused by more than 200 billion metric tons of accumulated greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, will trigger more frequent and stronger typhoons in the coming years.
According to Alvarez, the country’s scarce resources must be strategically deployed because there are “enormous investments that are likely to be wasted” if climate change science and sensitivity are not factored into engineering plans.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
17 September 2012
by Cynthia Balana; Julie Aurelio; AFP
Representatives from the Philippine and German governments on Monday signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for a €36 million ($42.2 million) technical assistance agreement to address the effects of climate change in the Philippines.
Present at the signing were Environment Undersecretary Analzia Teh; Climate Change Commission (CCC) commissioners Naderev Saño and Heherson Alvarez; Senator Edgardo Angara; Presidential Assistant for Climate Change Sec. Elizabeth "Bebet" Gozon; the German Embassy in Manila's Chargé de Affaires, Ralph Timmerman; the German Federal Ministry for the Environment's International Climate Initiative representative, Norbert Gorißen; and German Development Cooperation-Deutsche Gesellenschaftfür Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) Principal Advisor, Dr. Bernd-Markus Liss.
GIZ is an organization commissioned by the German government to dispense technical assistance to the Philippines and the Pacific region.
“Germany is committed to assist the Philippines, but there are many things that have yet to be done,” said Secretary Mary Ann Sering, CCC vice chairperson, in a video message.
According to Saño, the technical assistance —equivalent to P1.76 billion— shall go towards projects that include climate change mitigation, adaptation, and environmental protection.
He explained in an interview that the money will not actually be transferred to the CCC but will come in form of technical assistance.
The partnership will be a "3-year engagement, at least for now," said Saño.
He added that, while climate change is a long-term issue, there is the clear need for the government to address its immediate effects.
Meanwhile, Teh said that they intend to select at least three local government units for assistance in developing climate change adaptation programs, ranging from comprehensive land use to effects mitigation.
"We intend to deliver the fund on a 'call-for-proposal' basis," said Liss, who said that the GIZ is interested to support programs that are relevant to their goal of helping mitigate the impact of climate change.
Addressing climate change in PHL
The Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries to the impact of climate change.
In the 2011 report of the United Nations University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security, the Philippines ranked third —next to Vanuatu and Tonga— in the top ten countries facing the highest risk to climate change. The other countries in the top ten include the Solomon Islands, Guatemala, Bangladesh, Timor-Leste, Costa Rica, Cambodia, and El Salvador.
The risk index report analysed each country’s exposure to disasters such as storms, floods, earthquake, droughts, and sea level rise.
Furthermore, Saño warned that drought and flood pose risk on agricultural production.
Saño mentioned in his presentation that rice yields in the Philippines might decline up to 75 percent by 2100.
Citing other studies showing the impact of climate change and rising water levels on the country, Saño said the Philippines needs to “tackle the root causes of all our problems, (including) climate change disaster risks.”
“It is imperative for the country to enhance adaptive capacity,” he warned.
Despite numerous parallel efforts to address climate change in the Philippines, the CCC is “sole policy-making body of the government tasked to coordinate, monitor, and evaluate the programs the government is taking in relation to climate change,” according to their website.
The main causes of impact of climate change in the country are our “environmental, economic and social unsustainability,” he said.
“Climate change must be addressed by the Philippines as an opportunity,” Saño stressed.
The representatives from the German government said that they look forward to a mutually beneficial partnership with the Philippines.
“I think our benefit is that we can establish good relations with the Philippines,” said Gorißen. He also said that this initiative, if successful could serve as a template for other countries to follow suit.
Liss, for his part, said, “We are all part of global community. We benefit from our mandate to promote sustainable development through technical cooperation projects (like this).”
Gorißen pointed out that the Philippines is one of countries most vulnerable to climate change, but which also has a rich potential for renewable energy —hydroelectric and geothermal— that could be harnessed for sustainable development.
He also said that the International Climate Change Initiative encompasses more than just mitigation and adaptation; among its major undertakings is biodiversity protection —of which there are at least nine bilateral projects being undertaken in the Philippines.
These projects aim to raise public awareness and adaptability to climate change, as well as to enhance citizens' employment and livelihood opportunities for the citizens.
“Our focus is on relevance and result,” Gorißen said.
“(W)e have had strong weather events even before climate change (became an issue). Huwag nating hintayin na for our climate change plan to kick in (before we take action),” Saño concluded
11 September 2012
by Shaira Panela