By: Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment

As the Paris Agreement on Climate Change begins to take effect in the country on Earth Day, environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) joined scientists and activists in holding the Philippine March for Science, highlighting the call for the establishment of a robust national climate science program to help bolster the country’s long-standing demand for climate justice from developed nations.
“The Philippine government should institute a national climate science program focused on building the adaptive capacity of our communities to climate change impacts and strengthen the scientific basis of our long-standing demands for climate justice. The brightest Filipino scientific minds are capable of establishing the extent of climate impacts and the contributions of the world’s top polluter countries and corporations to our country’s worsening climate vulnerability,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
While many advocates welcome the effectivity of the Paris Agreement in the Philippines, policy analysts noted as early as the conclusion of the COP 21 UN Climate Talks in 2015 that the treaty has limited instruments and mechanisms on imposing deep and drastic cuts on industrialized nations, obliging sufficient climate adaptation funds for climate-vulnerable countries, and demanding loss and damages from economies responsible for the vulnerability and impacts that afflict them.
“Even as the global scientific community has to an extent already determined each country and corporation’s contribution to global warming and climate change, the Paris Agreement is unable to make their full accountability binding. We have to strengthen the scientific evidence of the environmental degradation and extreme landlessness and poverty we are experiencing at the hands of these polluter countries and corporations as a compelling basis for strengthening our demands,” explained Bautista.
Data from the Department of Science and Technology show that the Philippine government currently spends only 0.14 percent of our GDP on scientific research and development, a far cry from the global standard of one percent GDP allocation. Only P537.78 million of the P4.73 billion or just 11 percent of total public R&D expenditures was allocated for researches focused on the ‘control and care of the environment’ in 2013. Private industry spending for environment-related R&D was even smaller at just 1 percent of total private spending.
“Our national economy will benefit greatly if there is greater state subsidy and other forms of state support for climate and environment-related research. An ADB study shows that the Philippines may lose up to USD300 billion until 2100 in a business-as-usual scenario of our disaster vulnerabilities. On top of this, the country still has no comprehensive assessment of the damages we have incurred from decades of environmental destruction, natural resource depletion, health impacts, and other social and ecological costs inflicted on our communities and industries,” noted Bautista.
The environmental group said that political will was needed alongside building the country’s technical capacities for climate adaptation, mitigation, and justice efforts.
“As a business-as-usual scenario of the climate crisis is expected from the current state of carbon emission cut contributions, we will need a more assertive climate leadership from President Rodrigo Duterte in the upcoming international climate negotiations. Of course, we will need a more robust climate science to back that up,” ended Bautista.