Manila— Countries in the East Asia and the Pacific Region, including the Philippines, need to adopt “climate-smart” growth strategies that are good for both development and the environment. They should integrate climate change risk management into development plans, reduce vulnerability of towns and cities to disasters caused by climate change, and scale up financing for the transition to low-carbon growth paths.
These are among the highlights of today’s roundtable discussion on the World Development Report 2010 (WDR 2010) organized by the World Bank and its partners in government, civil society and the private sector. World Bank climate change specialist Alexander Lotsch presented the report’s key findings.
The report warns that climate change threatens all countries, and developing countries, including those in East Asia and the Pacific, are expected to “bear 75-80 percent of the costs of damage caused by changing climate.”
Mr. Lotsch pointed out that while the East Asia and Pacific region has come a long way in its fight against poverty, such progress has come at a high environmental cost. The region, home to about two billion people, doubled its energy use and carbon dioxide emissions in the 1995-2005 period, he said.
The WDR 2010 points to several climate change factors and vulnerabilities in East Asia and Pacific countries. These include: the growing demand for energy; changes in land use and deforestation; vulnerable coastal populations; water availability, floods, and disease; and economic impact of climate change.
Acting World Bank Country Director Maryse Gautier told the forum participants that reducing the country’s vulnerability to climate change impacts are among the key priorities in the World Bank’s new Country Assistance Strategy for 2010-2012. “Given the country’s vulnerability, the Philippines needs to focus its attention on adaptation and preparedness,” said Ms. Gautier.
World Bank support to adaptation measures, Ms. Gautier said, will be through a combination of technical assistance and lending operations supported by several global climate change facilities, including the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and Global Fund for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR).
The GEF supports both climate change mitigation and adaptation activities, including the Philippines Climate Change Adaptation Project that will help develop and demonstrate climate change adaptation activities in the agriculture and the natural resources sectors. The GFDRR provides technical assistance to enhance the development of disaster risk management and climate change strategies and possibly the Disaster Risk Mitigation and Climate Change Adaptation Projects which will support the government’s efforts to integrate disaster risk and climate risk management in national and local development planning in areas such as agriculture and natural resource management.
“These measures could be expanded to other vulnerable sectors or regions such as the coastal areas where an integrated coastal zone management approach could contribute to reducing vulnerability to natural disasters and other hazards while promoting sustainable livelihoods and reducing poverty,” said Ms. Gautier.
The Philippines accounts for only 0.27 percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions. Nevertheless, it is heartening to note, Ms. Gautier said, that the country is committed to pursue cost-effective solutions to reducing emissions. The emergence of new financing instruments—particularly the Carbon Partnership Facility and the Clean Technology Fund (CTF), a joint initiative of the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation and the Asian Development Bank—opens up the potential for developing broader mitigation programs in areas such as sustainable transport, renewable energy, and waste management, she explained.
“Our Board recently approved the $250 million Clean Technology Fund, a post-Kyoto carbon finance facility that would help support the Government in the areas of efficient sustainable transport and renewable energy,” said Ms. Gautier.
“Building on the experience of ongoing Word Bank-supported projects such as geothermal, wind, and wastewater projects, the World Bank will also support government programs and projects in power, transport, and waste management sectors,” she added.
Recently, the World Bank signed an emission reduction purchase agreement with the Metro Manila Development Authority for the EDSA Bus Reduction Project designed to help address the traffic situation in Epifanio De Los Santos Avenue, contribute to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and curb air pollution along the country’s busiest and main thoroughfare.
Citing WDR 2010 findings, Mr. Lotsch said that meeting the challenges of climate change cannot simply be a choice between economic growth and climate change, but will require climate-smart policies that enhance development, reduce vulnerability, and finance the transition to low-carbon growth paths. “Economic growth alone will not be fast or equitable enough to counter threats from climate change, particularly if it remains carbon intensive and accelerates global warming,” he stressed.
Energy efficiency measures, the report says, have the largest potential to save energy both on the energy supply side (as in the burning of coal, oil, and gas and the production, transmission and distribution of electricity) and the demand side (use of energy in buildings, transport and manufacturing). The second largest source of emission reductions could come from low-to-zero emission fuels for power generation—particularly renewable energy.
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