The Climate Change Commission (CCC) reconstituted its panel of technical experts as it aims to localize the implementation of mitigation and adaptation programs to achieve its “bold and ambitious” commitment under the Paris Agreement.
During the launch of the CCC’s new 16-member National Panel of Technical Experts (NPTE) on Wednesday, Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said the “high-caliber” team will be providing practical advice to the climate change body for it to effectively implement at the local level “achievable” mitigation and adaptation programs.
Dominguez, who is also the CCC chairperson-designate, said this new set of Filipino experts will also help engage and educate local communities in adopting these programs.
He called for the reconstitution of the NPTE following the Philippines’ declaration of its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75 percent over the next decade as its Nationally Determined Contribution to the Paris Agreement.
“This is a bold and ambitious commitment. It underscores both our determination to shape a greener future for our people as well as the real risks we confront as one of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of
global warming,” he said. “We will achieve that commitment. To do so, we need to implement achievable programs on the ground. We need to convince our people that climate change is reversible if we all act together and begin reducing our own carbon footprint.”
The newly-formed panel of Filipino experts are trained in science, but are also familiar with working with communities, businesses and the local government units, and thus excel in building partnerships and linkages, Dominguez said.
The finance chief added the chosen experts were drawn from a roster of 130 notable experts, and were selected because they have been doing practical work on the ground, and are thus aware of what is going on at the grassroots level.
In the same event, Dominguez also said the financial impact that the country suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic has not hampered the government’s efforts to combat climate change.
“The pandemic has not slowed and will not slow our response to climate change,” he said. “The pandemic is a problem, it is true, it has lasted for two years but these climate change issues that we have to face will affect the next generations and we are very concerned precisely that we have to really boost up our responses to climate change and the way to do that is to gather a panel of experts who will actually help us implement climate change mitigation and adaptation.”
Asked how does the government intend to balance both interests on business and the environment when it comes to regulating carbon emissions, Dominguez admitted that this would not be easy to answer.
“That is is a very difficult question to answer because balancing interests the need for the growth and the need to protect our environment are at the heart of governance and that’s why we have these experts to advise us how to move ahead,” he said.
But Dominguez reiterated that they are looking into the possibility of reducing Mindanao’s reliance on coal-fired energy through investing and buying out coal-fired power plants in a bid to mothball or repurpose them as the government works on increasing the capacity of the Agus river system.
“This is something that we have been working on for at least seven months and the prospects are very bright,” he said. “Again there is no easy answer on how to balance so that is why we have to look at our panel of experts to think through this idea of balancing.”
The 16 experts hail from the different provinces and regions across the country—Metro Manila, Laguna, Quezon and Catanduanes in Luzon; Leyte, Cebu and Iloilo in the Visayas; and Davao, Zamboanga, Tawi-Tawi, and Agusan Del Norte in Mindanao.
Among the members of the new panel are Dr. Jihan Adil, Dr. Nathaniel Alibuyog, Dr. Zenaida Andrade, Dr. Wilfredo Campos, Dr. Gay Defiesta, Dr. Ramon Lorenzo Luis Guinto, Dr. Eduardo Mangaoang, Dr. Jimmy Masagca, Dr. Susan Mercado, Dr. Richard Muallil, Dr. Emma Porio, Dr. Patricia Ann Sanchez, Engineer Merriam Santillan, Dr. Encarnacion Emilia Yap, Dr. Maria Angela Zafra, and Dr. Doracie Zoleta Nantes.