Greenpeace decks Manila City Hall with demand for RE Bill passage as Bali Climate meeting draws to a close

Feature story - December 14, 2007
As the international climate conference in Bali, Indonesia nears conclusion, Greenpeace volunteers today scaled historic Manila City Hall to hang a gigantic banner with the message "Time to Save the Climate. Pass the Renewable Energy Bill Now!," warning that failure to act could spell doom for some parts of the capital which would be submerged by increasing sea levels.

As the international UN climate conference in Bali, Indonesia nears conclusion, Greenpeace volunteers hang a giant banner at the Manila City Hall to demand immediate passage of the renewable energy ill. The environmental organization has been calling on the Philippine government to fast-track the passage of the Renewable Energy Bill which, once enacted, will catalyze the shift away from the country's dependency on fossil fuels and pave the path for the massive uptake of renewable energy to help stop climate change.

"We call on the Philippine government to move swiftly from rhetoric to action by enacting concrete solutions to help solve the global problem of climate change. We also enjoin local governments such as Manila, along with Filipino citizens, to join the groundswell of global opinion demanding urgent action to stop this environmental threat, and push for the bill's speedy enactment," said Greenpeace Southeast Asia spokesperson Lea Guerrero.

The Philippines is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including extreme weather events and sea level rise. A recent study by development organization Germanwatch has placed the Philippines as the country most affected by climate change in 2006, due to extreme weather disasters. In an earlier study entitled "The Philippines: A Climate Hotspot," Greenpeace stated that a partial and conservative projection of a one-meter rise in sea level is projected to inundate the country's coastlines, covering an area of almost 700 million square meters. Among the coastal areas vulnerable to sea level rise is the country's capital, Manila, parts of which are already sinking due to subsidence.

Greenpeace has been repeatedly calling on the Philippine government to fast-track the passage of the Renewable Energy (RE) Bill which, once enacted, will catalyze the shift away from the country's dependency on fossil fuels and pave the path for the massive uptake of renewable energy to help stop climate change.

However, despite official statements constantly affirming the prioritization of the bill, the government has been remiss in ensuring that the RE Bill's passage is expedited. Last year, the 13th Congress failed to take the opportunity to enact the crucial bill into law. Committee hearings on the RE Bill in the House of Representatives only started last month. In the Senate, the first RE Bill proceeding is expected to start only today. The Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) meeting earlier this week also failed to

identify the RE Bill as priority legislation despite the government's subsequent statement in the Bali meeting that the government will soon enact an RE Law.

"In a hundred years the area where Manila City Hall is currently standing could be flooded with seawater, along with Roxas Boulevard and Luneta Park. This can also happen to a thousand other municipalities around the country if little or no action is done to address climate change. The worsening impacts of climate change now being felt with alarming intensity and increasing regularity are telling us that there is no time to lose. In the country's projected long-term struggle against climate change, the immediate passage of the RE Bill is the first important step," said Guerrero.

While the major responsibility for stopping climate change rests on the industrialized countries to cut back on their greenhouse gas emissions now, it is equally important that developing countries like the Philippines avoid the mistakes made by the west in building these climate killing and dirty energy sources. Investments in renewable energy systems are envisioned to liberate the country from the treadmill of dirty energy production and use.

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