Is Tañada the climate adaptation champion we need in the Senate?

Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III is a lawyer and a human rights and labor advocate. He has served the House of Representatives and has written laws such as the Renewable Energy Act of 2008, People’s Survival Fund Act,  Anti-Torture Act of 2009, and the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity. He is currently running under the slate Otso Diretso.

For Tañada, the need to address vulnerability to climate change is a top priority. As one of the authors of the People’s Survival Fund Act, a law that allots an annual fund for local government units and local organisations to implement climate change adaptation pojects, Tañada believes that a proper implementation of the law will help Filipinos deal with climate change impacts.

 He also believes that framing laws and policies in relation to climate change should be done within the framework of climate justice.

 “Climate change is a complex issue, one that is not limited to physical or environmental factors alone. There are political-economic aspects to climate change as well. The poorest of the poor, for example, may have the least to do about carbon emissions, fossil fuels, mining, etc., they are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change,” he said.

Erin Tañada with Samira Gutoc. Both are running for Senate under the Otso Diretso slate. Photo from Erin Tañada’s Facebook page.

 “Those who are most responsible for carbon emissions, for example, would more likely be those among the richest now. They will have the highest capacity to adapt to and recover from the impact of climate change. Our poor farmers, workers, and the most vulnerable sectors of our population, will have the least capacity to adapt and recover and would stand to lose the most,” he added.

Being a labor advocate, the senatorial hopeful acknowledges that there is a need to address the just transition of workers who work in the fossil fuel industry to shift them to cleaner jobs. His platforms of job creation in rural and urban areas and a national minimum wage will be the backdrop of this just transition.

 “We will make sure that we have an effective, responsive, and context-sensitive training program for those workers who still want to work in the energy sector but would need a new skill  set to work in renewable energy industry. We will also study and develop a compensation, transition, and reintegration package for all workers who will be displaced because of the transition,” Tañada said.

 As for mitigation measures and the Philippine’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, Tañada believes we can do more, and political will will play a big part in ensuring that the Philippines can do a significant emissions reduction.

“Much of the 70% reduction would or should come from the energy sector. Our focus, in this regard, is to quickly transition to renewable energy given that we have just 10 years before 2030,” he said.

Photo from Tañada’s Facebook page

He laid out three important points that should be done to have a more ambitious set of targets:

  • Build up the Peoples’ Survival Fund;
  • Put resources behind research and development. R&D can help come up with new technologies to support renewable energy programs. R&D can also help  develop strategies to build capacity of people in the energy sector, mostly the workers on how they can transition;
  • Educate the population on climate change, how we contribute to environmental degradation, and how we are directly affected by the impact of environmental disasters.

“The President’s current energy policies does not agree with our target, we need a Senate that will be willing to put this issue in its legislative agenda and be willing to see that laws are enacted to help us reach the carbon emission target,” he added.

 And “clean coal” plants? The senatorial candidate simply does not believe in them. “There should be no such thing,” he said. In fact, what he proposes is not just to reduce coal plants in the country but eliminate them.

 Tañada believes that national economy and environmental integrity should not be compromising or sacrificing each other and that the Senate plays a crucial role in ensuring that laws support this agenda.

Story published for Climate Stories PH