Press Release
April 18, 2018

Legarda Champions PH Carbon Reduction Policies

At the Second Annual High-Level Strategy Session (HLSS2) organized by AirQualityAsia (AQA) and the US-Asia Institute, Senator Loren Legarda today delivered a presentation on Parliamentary Leadership on Carbon Reduction Policies - Implementing the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on Clean Air and showcased Philippine laws and initiatives to improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions.

The event was organized at the sidelines of the 2018 Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group (WBG) in Washington, D.C. Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committees on Foreign Relations, Finance and Climate Change, serves as Alternate Head of the Philippine Delegation, with Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno as Head of Delegation.

"Air quality and climate change is relational because factors that cause air pollution, such as the combustion of fossil fuels, are also sources of high CO2 emissions. We are therefore supporting both climate and health goals at once when we implement policies and measures that improve air quality," Legarda said.

Legarda cited data from the World Health Organization estimating that 6.5 million deaths are caused by air pollution annually, making it the world's largest environmental health risk. In the Philippines, about one in four deaths are attributed to air pollution.

She noted that the number one source of this pollution comes from vehicles, which, in 2016, the Philippines registered to have 9,251,565 units nationwide.

Legarda also shared that the Philippine government enacted in 1999 Republic Act No. 8749 or the Philippine Clean Air Act, which provides the policy framework for the country's air quality management program.

"This law seeks to uphold the right of every Filipino to clean and quality air by reducing air pollution from stationary and mobile sources. It encourages cooperation and self-regulation from and among citizens and industries.It emphasizes compliance and accountability to the government's environmental rules and regulations," she stressed.

Legarda said that this law had enabled the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to conduct two monitoring programs of air pollution from stationary and mobile sources: the "Bantay Tsimneya," which monitors industrial emissions; and the "Bantay Tambutso," for vehicular emissions.

Recognizing the contribution of vehicles to air pollution, the DENR updated the emission limits from Euro 2 to Euro 4 emission standards and Euro 3 for motorcycles and tricycles. The agency had also adopted United Nations regulations for processing certificates of conformity (COC).

The law also provided for the preparation of an annual National Air Quality Status Report through monitoring stations, as well as the designation of "airsheds," which refer to geographical areas with similar weather or meteorological conditions and sources of air pollution affecting the interchange and diffusion of air pollution in the surrounding atmosphere within the entire country. To date, there are 98 air quality monitoring stations and 22 airsheds nationwide.

Legarda mentioned that the Philippine Clean Air Act heavily complements the Renewable Energy Act of 2008 in pursuing more affordable and cleaner sources of energy, as well as the first-ever Green Jobs Act in the whole world in transitioning our industrial sectors towards green growth.

She explained that the Philippines still chooses the path towards a low-carbon economy despite the fact that it registers a negligible amount of carbon emissions, which, in 2012, was only at 157.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e) or 0.33 percent of global GHG emissions.

Other carbon reduction initiatives Legarda mentioned are the issuance of Executive Order No. 174 in 2014, which institutionalized the Philippine Greenhouse Gas Inventory Management and Reporting System (PGHGIMRS); the continuation of the National Greening Program; and the support to ratify the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which seeks to phasedown hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in the refrigeration and air-conditioning sector.

In closing, Legarda reminded fellow parliamentarians that the power of the purse rests on Congress, which allowed her, for three years in a row, to ensure that the national budget of the Philippines would truly cater to the needs of our people in light of climate change.

As Chair of the Finance Committee of the Philippine Senate, Legarda, alongside her colleagues in the Senate, had enacted budget provisions for climate adaptation and mitigation, such as the establishment of multi-hazard early warning systems, rainwater harvesting, seed banks, mangroves, rooftop gardens, roadside ditches, sea wall, and practice drills for response and preparedness.

"As parliamentarians, we bear the responsibility of steering our country forward through fostering a policy environment where laws can unlock national potential and serve as the foundation for inclusive and sustainable development where our people could thrive and prosper. And in light of the new realities and challenges due to a warming planet, we are expected to do more for the safety and future of our people, our country, and our planet," Legarda concluded.

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