Press Release
June 3, 2008

Loren seeks urgent creation of climate change body

SEN. Loren Legarda yesterday asked her colleagues in the Senate to speed up the passage of a bill seeking to create a powerful body aimed at addressing the ill effects of climate change in the country.

In a privilege speech, Loren said the measure was as vital as the bills on anti-poverty, economic reconstruction and national security. The body shall be called Climate Change Commission.

"Mother Nature, the great nurturer, is now an unforgiving destroyer," she said in her speech delivered three days before the celebration of the World Environment Day.

Loren said the celebration comes at a time when the world is still grieving the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people as a result of the devastations of 7.9 earthquake in Western China and Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar.

But right here at home, she said, the Philippines had a mid-May typhoon that ravaged La Union, Zambales and Pangasinan. "It has been this way for years. The planet with a gentle and kind temperament, though with occasional outburst of rage, is a thing of the past," she said.

But why is nature running amok?

"The answer is climate change," she said. "Climate change is a man-made monster. Cavalier, wanton and reckless use of fossil fuel and the clear-cutting of irreplaceable forest resources have conspired with weak environmental policies to push our planet nearer to an environmental holocaust."

And in this season of celebrating World Environment Day, climate change should be declared as the greatest scourge of our generation, she said.

"What man's folly had created, man's sense of survival and sense of purpose have to reverse. Before it is too late."

Loren said the proposed Climate Change Commission will elevate climate change issues, including the attendant hazards and risks, into the top rank of government priority.

"Clashing civilizations can forge amity and come to peace," she said. "Religious and ethnic strife can find resolution. Wars end. Guns are stilled. Swords are fashioned into plowshares. There is always a term limit to discord among races and creed."

Loren said climate change is a problem of another kind.

"It is a multi-headed hydra, manifesting its destructive power in cyclones and tsunamis, in droughts, in massive flooding, in snow-less winters, in summers of baking heat, in the wild and erratic climate shifts," she said.

"The multi-headed hydra is a parasite that feeds on the wastefulness, complacency, indifference and weakness of its host. This parasite will overpower mankind, even put an end to life as we know it, unless it is purged," she added.

Loren's said the hydra's destructive powers are "whimsical, ungoverned by rules, they leap across territorial boundaries and are without limitation."

A manifestation of the widespread and unsettling impact of climate change is the current global food crisis, a climate change-induced global emergency, she added.

Loren said the ground level work for climate-proofing and carbon sequestration and the parallel environmental initiatives at the Senate may not get screaming headlines and the attention of the pundits.

"But they represent sincere and viable anti-dotes to the greatest scourge of our generation. They are big, determined steps for the survival of humankind," she said.

Loren said there were firm plans to host an Asia-Pacific Conference on Climate Change Adaptation in Manila in late October or early November this year. The Province of Albay, the first LGU in Southeast Asia to champion climate change adaptation, she added, will convene the Conference in coordination with UNESCAP.

With the theme "Local Governments Take the Lead", she said the conference aims to harness the immense resources of local governments and their partners by forging a network and cooperation framework in preparation for the 14th Conference of the Parties in December.

Loren said over 100 million people from across the globe are threatened by the silent tsunami of hunger, according to the World Food Program. Food riots had toppled the government of Haiti, where hungry and desperate people have been forced to eat baked mud laced with little amounts of flour and sugar.

But too bad, she said, a number of developed countries were in a state of denial on the issue for decades and this upset the environmental equilibrium even further. Even sections of the scientific community called climate change a hoax or non-life threatening.

Loren said she has supported a number of measures to ease the effects of climate change, among them, climate-proofing of small farms through agro-forestry in Albay, the developmet of a new template for re-greening Philippine highways and roadways, another effort to mitigate the hazards of climate change.

Her own Luntiang Pilipinas project, she said, is also building a national nursery at Los Banos in Laguna in partnership with the Bureau of Plant Industry. Antique and Iloilo will also benefit from municipal nurseries the Luntian will fund and support. In selected areas of Cebu, the Million Mangroves Project is ongoing, she said.

"On this season we celebrate World Environment Day, the minutes and the hours on the global environmental clock are all ticking to sunset," Loren said.

"Let us all work to reverse this and usher in the morning in our planet."

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