Congress creates climate change adaptation fund

Posted on June 09, 2012

AT THE last day of the second regular session, Congress passed a measure creating a local climate change adaptation fund amid intensifying typhoons and storms in the country.

Ratified by the Senate and House of Representatives on Wednesday was Senate Bill (SB) 2811 or the People’s Survival Fund, one of the world’s first climate change adaptation funds, a press statement released on Friday showed.

“I am pleased that both houses of Congress saw the importance of the People’s Survival Fund, which will complement the Climate Change Law by helping achieve its objectives through provision of funds to local governments and communities for their climate change adaptation programs,” Senator Loren B. Legarda, climate change committee chair, was quoted as saying in a statement.

The measure is now up for submission to Malacañang for signing into law.

If enacted into law, the People’s Survival Fund will bankroll local governments’ adaptation activities like land and water resources management, agriculture and fisheries, and health and natural ecosystems development, the bill states.

Projects to be implemented should be in line with the government’s climate adaptation plan listed under the National Strategic Framework on Climate Change, it added.

“There is no substitute for national and local government budgets that are climate change-adaptive. The measure will allow us to pole-vault toward ensuring disaster- and climate change-resilient communities,” Ms. Legada said.

The National Treasury will funnel a billion pesos to the fund annually through the General Appropriations Act.

The bill, principally authored by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, also mandated the Budget Department to ensure “the appropriate prioritization and allocation of funds to support climate change-related programs and projects,” the statement said.

Margareta Wahlstrom, UN Secretary-General for disaster risk reduction, last month said Republic Act (RA) 9729 or the Climate Change Act of 2009 is one of the best climate change laws in the world, but noted its poor implementation at the local level.

The country’s climate change law was enacted as an offshoot of tropical storm Ondoy (Ketsana), which ravaged the country in September 2009.

Flooding caused by Ondoy in Luzon resulted in a death toll of 469, and P10.9 billion worth of damage to agriculture and infrastructure.

Situated at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, the country experiences at least 20 typhoons and tropical storms annually. The weather bureau had said that the strength of these storms have been intensifying due to climate change. -- Antonio Siegfrid O. Alegado