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Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje signed the landmark international climate agreement reached in Paris last December during a high-level signing ceremony held on April 22 at the United Nations headquarters in New York City.

The signing ceremony for the Paris accord took place on the first day the agreement was opened for signature, which coincides with the global observance of Earth Day.

The agreement was adopted by 196 countries that participated in the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, France on December 12, 2015.

Paje, who led the Philippine delegation to the signing ceremony, was designated and authorized by President Benigno Aquino III to sign the agreement for and on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines by virtue of a Special Authority dated April 7, 2016.

He also delivered the Philippine statement in which he appealed to other nations to immediately work toward reducing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and not wait for the Paris climate accord to come into force in 2020.

“Our contribution to the global problem that is climate change is admittedly a droplet in the well, but streams, lakes and oceans are all composed of mere droplets. We cannot do this alone,” Paje told world leaders who attended the event.

“Climate change will only be solved through the concerted efforts of all countries. We strongly urge that all countries build upon our momentum from Paris and work together towards full implementation of the agreement,” the environment chief added.

Paje said the Philippines signed the deal in the hope that all 196 countries who adopted it last December will begin the implementation of their respective intended nationally determined contribution (INDC).

INDC is a long-term commitment of a country to curb its GHG emissions, identifying among others its climate mitigation and adaptation actions that will be implemented beyond 2020.

Under its INDC submitted to the UNFCCC in October last year, the Philippines committed to reduce its carbon emissions by 70 percent by 2030, which will come from the energy, transport, waste, forestry and industry sectors.

“The Philippines, a highly vulnerable developing nation, has already taken step forward and has made its positions and commitment to immediately pursue national actions to address climate change through our INDC,” Paje said.

He said that while the country has one of the most ambitious national targets, the full implementation of its contribution to global action “requires grant-based support in the form of adequate, predictable and sustainable financing.”

However, despite financial constraints, Paje said the Philippines still managed to demonstrate its commitment of meeting its goal by starting the implementation of its National Climate Action Plan and the integration of climate change in national and local development plans and budgets.

“To secure a sustainable future, the Philippine government is pursuing value-added strategies to ensure the provision of ecosystem services and green growth strategies to address pollution and environmental degradation, including increasing our renewable energy capacity in the coming years,” Paje said.

He said the country also started investing in a climate resilient economy by incorporating the UN’s 17 sustainable developmental goals in its development and strategic plans and program.

“In the Philippines, we have been actively pursuing definitive actions through the convention and have recently submitted our Articles of Accession to the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol,” Paje pointed out.

According to Paje, the country’s GHG inventory management and reporting system among national agencies and partner institutions are already being established to create a transparent, accurate, complete and comparable baseline of emissions. ###

ENVIRONMENT Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje will deliver the Philippine statement when he represents President Aquino in the high-level signing ceremony for the historic U.N. climate change agreement adopted in Paris last December.

Paje's attendance to the signing ceremony to be held at the UN headquarters in New York City on April 22, which coincides with the annual global celebration of Earth Day, was due to an invitation sent to the country by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

President Aquino issued a special authority designating and authorizing Paje to sign for and behalf of the Republic of the Philippines the Paris Agreement.

According to Paje, the formal signing of the U.N. climate deal is a victory for the Philippines having been an active player in the seven-year effort to get the world to act on climate change.

“The irony of being among the countries most extremely vulnerable to climate change despite having one of the smallest carbon footprints impelled us to be highly articulate and assertive on the global stage on the need for urgent action against climate change,” Paje said.

The Philippines was among the states that were most insistent on reaching a truly meaningful global compact to limit and reduce the global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Leaders from all over the world are expected to participate in the formal signing so there will be a “smooth finalization of the operational details” to accomplish provisions in the new climate change accord.

The agreement will come into force once signed by at least 55 countries. Climate ambassadors from around the world have until April 17, 2017 to sign the deal.

The Philippines had already submitted its first Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) which serves as the roadmap to actualize the country’s commitments to address climate change.

“Priority mitigation measures will cover 40 of the 70 percent total emission reduction which will include greater use of cleaner and renewable energy, improved mass transport services, more efficient waste management, reforestation and forest protection, and co-firing biomass,” Paje explained.

The INDCs are the submissions prepared by each country to help mitigate climate change, which was formally submitted before the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change last October.

Paje further stated that during the ceremony, the Philippines will manifest its intent to shift from the INDCs to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, to Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) which will be updated every five years.

The Philippines submitted a goal of 70 percent carbon emissions reduction by 2030 as its contribution to help combat climate change.

Paje, who also represented the Philippines during the high-level signing ceremony for the adoption of the U.N. climate deal in Paris, said the country is already taking steps to perform its commitments.

One of these measures is the National Greening Program (NGP), which has been bringing positive impacts in mitigating climate change.

NGP is the flagship reforestation program of the Aquino administration that seeks to cover 1.5 million hectares of denuded forest with trees from 2011 to 2016.

As of December 2015, a total of 1.35 million hectares have been planted with trees in various parts of the country.

In November last year, President Benigno Aquino signed an Executive Order extending the NGP until 2028 to cover 7 million hectares more of forestland.

According to Paje, President Aquino has given the assurance that the country will continue to work with the U.N. and other countries against global warming for the benefit of climate vulnerable communities around the world. ###

The country’s environment sector is celebrating the Earth Day this year with a signing of a covenant supporting the ratification by the Philippines of the Paris Agreement, the landmark United Nations climate change accord negotiated by world leaders last December.

The covenant will be signed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Climate Change Commission (CCC), other national government agencies, and other stakeholders in the environment sector on April 22.

Paje, who is heading to New York to represent President Aquino in the formal signing of the Paris Agreement and to deliver the Philippine statement at the U.N. Headquarters on April 22, said the covenant signifies the country’s commitment to curbing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

“As one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change, the Philippines is firm on its stand on limiting its GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions,” the environment chief said.

He also added: “We are committed to enjoin the participation of more sectors in the decision-making process so that together we can all scale up our efforts in reducing emissions, building resilience, and decreasing vulnerability to climate change impacts.”

The Paris Agreement was negotiated and adopted by 196 countries during the 21st Conference of Parties of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris last December.

Close to 200 countries are expected to attend the signing ceremony for the climate change accord in New York City.

The Paris Agreement calls for keeping the average global temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius while pursuing efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, all above pre-industrial levels.

It also calls for adaptation to climate change impacts, increasing resilience, and developing low GHG emissions while ensuring sustainable food production, as well as indicating plans to finance efforts of developing countries in implementing procedures to minimize climate change.

Aside from the covenant signing, the DENR and its partner agencies and organizations have lined up a number of activities focusing on the international Earth Day theme, “Trees for the Earth, Let’s get Planting” while adopting the local campaign slogan, “Step Up and Deliver, #GreenEnvironmentGawingForever.”

The “Isang Diwa sa Pagdiriwang ng Kalikasan” or the “Sandiwang” is scheduled in the afternoon of April 22 to feature an artistic and cultural interfaith celebration of Earth Day.

Various religious groups will gather for the event at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City to profess their respective prayers for the protection of Mother Earth. They will also hold religious rituals for the healing of the earth, and present cultural, musical and advocacy shows.

During the Sandiwang, eco-friendly products will be available for sale, while the “Hilot Pinoy” group will offer free massage services to the public.

On April 23, local bands will pay a concert tribute to Mother Earth for the 16th Earth Day Jam at the Plaza Rajah Sulayman along Roxas Boulevard in Manila.

Bike enthusiasts will advocate for cleaner air by promoting the use of bicycles as environment-friendly transport option during the Earth Day Bike Parade 2016 on April 24. The parade, which will start at 5:00 a.m. at the Makati City Hall grounds, will drum up awareness with a 34-kilometer ride through the cities of Mandaluyong, Pasig, Pasay, Quezon and Manila.

More than 100 youth and science teachers from secondary schools in Northern Luzon will participate in the Earth Day Youth Camp on April 26-28 in Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte, where campers will be trained how to organize and synergize climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts.

Amateur and professional runners will have the chance to run and help “Protect, Respect, and Oversee” the planet when they join the PROEarth Run 2016 at the Mall of Asia grounds in Pasay City on April 30. The fun run will have 3K, 5K and 10K segments whose proceeds will be used for the environmental projects of Earth Day Network Philippines, the event’s lead organizer. ###

The Philippines is committed to reducing emissions not only of carbon dioxide but also other greenhouse gases (GHG) that contribute to global warming and climate change, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

DENR Undersecretary Jonas Leones said measures are being undertaken by the government to tackle emissions of other GHG other than carbon dioxide, which had been the focus of anti-climate change efforts in the past.

“Given the situation and consistent with a science-based approach, the country had to look beyond carbon dioxide alone as the driver of global warming, and consider all the significant [GHGs] which include methane nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons or HFCs, perfluorinated compounds or PFCs, and sulfur hexafluoride,” Leones said during the recently concluded First PMAP Foundation Summit on Clean Air and Climate Change.

Leones represented Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje to the event organized by the People Management Association of the Philippines, the country’s premier organization of human resource practitioners and people managers, held at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City. The conference theme was “Clean Air: Our Life, Our Future.”

Paje is heading to the United Nations headquarters in New York later this month to represent the Philippines in the high-level signing ceremony for the historic U.N. climate change agreement adopted in Paris last December.

During the PMAP conference, Leones reported that aside from the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) the Philippines submitted to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in October last year, it also prepared its own Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).

The INDC includes the intention of the Philippines to reduce its carbon emissions by 70 percent by 2030, while the NDC serves as a tool and roadmap by which the country’s intended commitments will be actualized.

The NDC covers the energy, transport, waste, forestry and industry sectors. It aims to reduce carbon emissions through the use of electric vehicles, heat rate improvements in power plants, addressing GHG emissions from wastes, shift to natural refrigerants and promotion of “biochar” technology.

Leones said the government is also banking on the National Greening Program (NGP), the flagship reforestation program of the Aquino administration that aims to cover 1.5 million hectares with trees by the end of the year, to fight climate change.

The program has been extended to 2028 to cover the estimated 7.1 million remaining open and denuded forestland in the country, by virtue of an executive order issued by President Benigno Aquino III last year.

“The NGP is a key component of the country’s climate change mitigation and poverty-alleviation campaigns. Forests act as carbon sinks, while providing livelihood for the host communities. Forests capture carbon dioxide, and produce oxygen, and thus are also crucial to our quest for clean air,” Leones said.

In addition, Leones said the DENR had also pushed for the early implementation of Euro 4 fuel standards for new motor vehicles to June 2015 instead of January 2016, to lessen sulfur emissions. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has commended local communities, people’s organizations (POs) and mountaineers for helping authorities put out the forest fires that hit Mt. Kitanglad and Mt. Kalatungan in Bukidnon province last weekend.

It particularly cited the members of Kitanglad Guard Volunteers (KGV), a group of indigenous people in Northern Mindanao, and several volunteer mountaineers who helped DENR forest rangers and personnel construct an 11-km. firebreak to contain the blaze.

DENR Region 10 Director Ruth Tawantawan said the firebreak prevented further destruction of natural forests, grasslands and areas covered by the National Greening Program in the two protected areas.

As of April 10, fire has been contained in all the damaged areas, except for one in Barangay La Roxas in Pangantucan town.

Employees from the office of community environment and natural resources officers (CENROs) in the towns of Manolo Fortich, Valencia, Don Carlos and Talakag responded to the fire.

Tawantawan said it’s a good thing the DENR had invested in training for POs on fire prevention.

“Preparedness is the key. The extensive orientations and seminars on fire prevention which have been conducted for POs last year, in anticipation of the El Niño have prepared them for this disaster,” she said.

Tawantawan also reported that the fire originated from extremely parched areas of the mountains. She said the thin canopy and dry leaves are likely to have caused the fire.

She also warned that irresponsible disposal of lighted cigarette butts, the kaingin system and hunting activities could result to fire in the densely populated areas in lowlands and grasslands.

Meanwhile, the Protected Areas Management Boards (PAMB) of Mt. Kitanglad and Mt. Kalatungan are now preparing to activate community-based Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils and draft a fire prevention master plan to harmonize all fire prevention efforts in said protected areas.

Bukidnon’s provincial environment and natural resources office serves as the central command post of command centers located in five barangays across the province.

Earlier this month, Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje has called on all PAMBs across the country to come up with their respective forest protection plan and allocate funds for the establishment of fire lines and other forest fire prevention activities like training for technical staff and volunteers in the light of the series of grassfires that gutted large areas of grasslands in protected areas in Visayas and Mindanao.

The environment chief also underscored the need to intensify public awareness campaign to prevent forest fires before the onset of the dry season, with March being declared as ‘Fire Prevention Month’ in the Philippines. ###