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Climate Change Law Signed - BW

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Friday signed into law a measure that will institutionalize a climate change policy, particularly on mitigating its impact.

Republic Act 9729 or the Philippine Climate Change Act of 2009 comes in the aftermath of destruction caused by tropical storm Ondoy (international name: Ketsana), typhoon Pepeng (international name: Parma) and typhoon Ramil (international name: Lupit) which is currently pounding storm-battered Northern Luzon.

Ondoy and Pepeng have ravaged Metro Manila and North Luzon, respectively, with damage reaching P30.986 billion and the death toll at 929, according to the National Disaster Coordinating Council’s Friday update.

Under the new law, a national climate change action plan would be crafted that would include roadmap for mitigation with emphasis on voluntary reduction of local carbon emissions, and adaptation with focus on disaster risk reduction.

The law created a Climate Change Commission, an autonomous policy-making body attached to the Office of the President tasked with coordinating, monitoring and evaluating programs and action plans, and will represent the country in international fora.

MalacaƱang said the commission’s advisory board will be composed of secretaries of concerned departments as well as representatives from the academe, the business sector, nongovernmental organizations and those involved in disaster risk reduction management. Its advisory board would include the heads of the League of Provinces, League of Cities, League of Municipalities and Liga ng mga Barangay.

The commission will assume the functions of the Presidential Task Force on climate change and the inter-agency committee on climate change under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, both of which would be abolished once the law is implemented.

The signing of the new law comes amid calls on Friday by concerned private groups to come up with a policy on mitigating the impact of climate change. In a forum, Helen N. Mendoza, president of the Philippine Network on Climate Change, said since the industrialized countries’ "consumption habit" is the culprit in the emission of greenhouse gases that trap warm air, rich nations should help provide funding for vulnerable countries in their drive for mitigation and disaster risk reduction.

"To do adaptation, developing countries would need adequate, reliable and consistent funding support from developed countries that are responsible for what happened to the climate... The financial help is an obligation of the rich and the help that they would give is not a charity," she said in a forum organized by the University of the Philippines (UP)-Manila titled "Global Climate Change Conference: The Science and Social Impact of Global Climate Change-A Philippine Setting."

Anna Theresa A. Santiago, overall organizer of the forum and biology professor at UP-Manila, said governments need "political will" to implement disaster risk reduction measures.

"Do we need to wait for another catastrophic event?" she asked, referring to the impact of Ondoy and Pepeng. — B. S. Sto. Domingo and B. U. Allauigan

Source: BusinessWorld Online - October 24, 2009

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