Climate Change Commission appoints implementation-focused advisers

PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE CLIMATE Change Commission on Wednesday replaced its national panel of technical experts with 16 new members as it transitioned towards project implementation.

Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, the chairman-designate of the commission, said in a briefing that the new panel was chosen as the commission moves away from initial research.

“We are now in the business of implementing concrete projects and programs to build the resilience of our communities, reverse the degradation, and protect our vital food sources,” he said.

“These are experts who are familiar with working on the ground, with businesses and local governments. Trained in science, they also excel in building partnerships and linkages. These are Filipino experts who will engage local communities in climate change mitigation and adaptation.”

The panel consists of 10 women and six men. Four of them come from Mindanao, while six each are from Luzon and the Visayas.

Representing environmental engineering, public health fisheries, sociology, and disaster risk management fields, the panel provides technical advice to the commission.

Panel member Maria Angela Zafra, who works on inclusive business models and sustainable tourism, said industries are sources of carbon emissions, noting that financing is moving towards projects that integrate business concerns to business operations.

“Of the major banks, if you look at their sustainable finance frameworks, their portfolio is also geared towards promoting renewable energy as well as energy efficiency projects,” she said.

“One of the things we should develop is also the demand for it, because the banks will supply sustainable finance and then we develop the industry as the source of the demand. Once both sides are ready, that’s the time we can transition into a greener industry as well.”

Mr. Dominguez said the experts will advise government on how to balance the need to protect the environment and support economic growth.

“The Philippine government is already looking at a possibility of reducing the reliance in Mindanao on coal-fired energy as we increase the capacity of the Agus river system. So, we’re working with the (Asian Development Bank) and private sector to put up a fund in which we’ll invest in and buy out the coal-fired plants and start mothballing them and repurposing them,” he said.

Finance Assistant Secretary Paola Sherina A. Alvarez said in August that the government is working with the ADB on a Coal Replacement Fund that will support the acquisition and shut down of coal-fired power plants in Mindanao while the Agus-Pulangi hydropower plant generating capacity is upgraded. — Jenina P. Ibanez