Responding to Greta

Published in SunStar Bacolod under my column – DISRUPTIVE MODE on October 2, 2019

Sixteen-year old climate activist Greta Thunberg has become an overnight name for saying what other environmental activists failed to strongly say to our leaders – shut up and show it.

For decades, our leaders have designed all sorts of policies, treatises and pacts to mitigate the impact of and adopt measures in response to climate change, but human consumption has ballooned to tremendous proportions and capitalists have profited much from this phenomenon. Greta and the rest of teenagers today across the globe has every right to demand for a cleaner, healthier, and sustainable future.    

My response to Greta came early as ten years ago by authoring City Ordinance No. 504, an ordinance creating climate change mitigation and adaptation programs of Bacolod City and calls for the creation of a Bacolod Network on Climate Change (BNCC) composed of representatives from different sectors. The ordinance calls for vulnerability and adaptation (V&A) assessment of current and future climate risks and coping measures and mechanisms adopted by local communities.

I am sharing the disruptive features of the ordinance because it calls for leaving our comfort zones. It moves us to adopt sustainable and organic agriculture, forest resource and biodiversity conservation, and ecological waste management focused on reduction, recycling, and re-use of city wastes. It calls for a dynamic coastal resource management through a participatory process of planning, implementing and monitoring sustainable uses of coastal resources.

It mandates sustainable energy development, energy conservation and efficiency as well as sustainable transportation and the promotion of environment-friendly modes of transportation covering land, water and air. 

The city shall come up with an annual energy efficiency targets that addresses the demand-side efficiency improvements, energy conservation, and use of energy efficient technologies. There shall also be regular traffic improvement schemes, geared towards the development and use of efficient mass transport systems, non-motorized transport modes and provisions of infrastructure such as “bike lanes” and “no-vehicles allowed areas”, emission control schemes focusing on improved fuel and vehicle efficiency, parking facilities development by public and private sector and improvement of road markings and signages, as well as, intersection control. 

Industries shall be encouraged to implement energy efficiency measures, promotion of energy conservation and use of alternative non-CO2 emitting industrial processes; and to use and develop of renewable and alternative energy such as solar, wind, biomass, and hydro. The Office of the Building Official shall encourage energy-efficient designs for new buildings. 

The city shall prioritize public sanitation including preserving quality of water, land and air in relation to climate change’s direct and indirect effects on health. The city’s environment and natural resources officer (ENRO) shall actively conduct information dissemination to barangays on the effects of or destruction caused by climate change upon beaches, reefs and coastal infrastructure; importance of water conservation in order to address the threat of decreasing quantity and quality of drinking water due to climate change; as well as preparatory measures in cases of calamities or enhancement of disaster management capacity in times extreme weather events and serious need for humanitarian assistance to victims of natural disasters. 

In agriculture and fisheries, the city shall promote research and extension work on climate change adaptation thru local research institutions, the academe and relevant stakeholders.

The city shall provide for resources for the integration of lessons about climate change and global warming in all educational institutions and promote dialogues between workers and employers to promote green and decent jobs.

My entry to politics in 2004 was prompted by my advocacies, including environmental conservation and so I am grateful for gaining deeper knowledge about ecological preservation. I was able to fulfill my dream to do something for Mother Earth in my role as a policymaker.  But I am sad for Greta because many policies remain in paper. I am hoping Greta’s generation will win this time. In her words, we need to inform ourselves of the situation because the politics needed to push it does not exist today.

Full Text of City Ordinance No. 504 – Bacolod City Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Ordinance

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