MAKATI—Corporate directors in the Philippines explored opportunities to accelerate climate action and resilience in coastal communities, as world leaders underscore greater climate action from the private sector in the ongoing climate talks in Glasgow. Business officials were presented with corridors where they could contribute to meeting the country’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) and the 1.5 degrees Celsius global warming threshold set in the Paris Agreement.

“The bulk of the 75 percent emission reductions committed in the Philippine NDC is contingent upon foreign support and only 2.71 percent will be implemented through domestic means, underscoring the necessity for greater participation from the private sector. We need to send far stronger signals to businesses that they can also step ahead to enjoy first and reap the benefits of climate action to their bottom line and brand,” said Nazrin Camille Castro, branch manager of The Climate Reality Project Philippines, in the second installment of Pilipinas: Aspire, Rise, Sustain.

“The private sector is a critical player in the climate action industry. In the Philippines, projections from 2020 to 2030 put the industrial, energy, transport, and agricultural sectors as the topmost emitters of greenhouse gases. I invite you to think beyond business-as-usual and to take ambitious action,” said United Nations Philippines Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator Gustavo González in his keynote.

Small islands and coastal communities are among the most vulnerable to climate impacts, with sea levels rising four times higher than the global average that may be irreversible for hundreds or thousands of years, and the lack of energy security due to the country’s reliance on imported diesel, resulting in high electricity costs. 

Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) associate for community resilience Arturo Tahup cited the case of Sulu-an Island in Guiuan, Eastern Samar, the very first community hit by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, where community leaders acted as “champions of climate resilience” despite having limited resources and geographic isolation.

“It’s not just about providing physical power to communities, but building and strengthening people’s power. This is energy democracy, which means people in the community are innovators, planners, and decision makers on how to use and create energy that is local, renewable, and community-owned,” he said.

Mindanao has been experiencing power supply issues this year. Philline Donggay, co-founder of Greenergy Solar, said that electricity access in Mindanao is lowest in the Philippines and grid infrastructure is limited and underdeveloped, but she viewed these challenges as an opportunity to provide clean energy systems in the region.

“I recognized that the power passing through gridlines was mostly generated by Mindanao’s great rivers and the country’s tallest volcano. Reclaiming the throne of a renewable energy-based power grid will provide a sense of agency and renewed pride to the region,” she added.

Motorized transport is a significant contributor to the country’s emissions, which makes it a crucial point of intervention for the private sector. A recent Metro Manila bike count estimated that 4.2 metric tons of carbon dioxide will be avoided if approximately 39,000 people will use bicycles instead of private cars.

“There needs to be a shift in the most efficient modes. This is where efforts to promote and enable active mobility are central. Not only does it abate emissions and tap into concerns for sustainability, but it also takes into consideration issues of equity and accessibility. And in order to do this, we need to mobilize both public and private sectors,” said Celine Tabinga, urban transitions analyst of ICSC.

Greenhouse gas emissions contribute as well to air pollution, the leading environmental health threat in the country. Long-term exposure to air pollution has been linked to an increased risk of COVID-19 infection, according to Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) analyst Isabella Suarez. 

Both climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic have exposed systemic weaknesses in global economies, hence addressing air pollution makes economic sense. “Companies that invest in solutions to address air pollution can simultaneously reduce their carbon footprint. By targeting health and climate co-benefits together, businesses can set priorities, build support and momentum, and demonstrate greater impact, faster,” she added.

ICSC and CREA examined the air quality status in the Philippines for the past 20 years. Findings from the report, which includes health and economic impacts of air pollution today, will be released on November 10, 2021.

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This press release was originally published at the ICSC’s website.

“Pilipinas: Aspire, Rise, Sustain” is a three-part series certified by the Securities and Exchange Commission, as participation in this webinar meets the recommended best practices for continuing directors education prescribed by the SEC. The next two webinars will be on November 5 and November 12. For more information, visit this site.