Statement of CHR Executive Director, Atty Jacqueline Ann de Guia, on the proposed increased budget allocation for climate change spending for 2023

Statement of CHR Executive Director, Atty Jacqueline Ann de Guia, on the proposed increased budget allocation for climate change spending for 2023

Reports of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change provide clear, indisputable evidence of global warming. Key indicators point to alarming changes in temperature and increased frequency of extreme weather and climate events.

While more and more States have strengthened their commitment to address climate change, there is still an urgent need for: (1) an increase in the level of ambition of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) between now and 2030; and/or (2) a significant overachievement of the latest NDCs; otherwise, the world will still face a dangerous 2.7 degree increase in temperature by the end of the century. The most vulnerable sectors, who already bear the brunt of the climate crisis, will experience further deprivation of their fundamental human rights.

The Philippines only accounts for 0.3 percent of global emissions. The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), however, believes that the country can set a strong precedent for climate action.

CHR welcomes the proposed increased budget allocation for climate change expenditures for FY 2023. From the Php 289.7 billion budget in 2022, it was raised by 56% making it Php 453.1 billion for the next fiscal year. According to the statement by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on 7 September 2022, the expanded climate fund is in line with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s agenda highlighting the following areas: food, water, and human security; environmental sustainability; climate smart industries and services; knowledge and capacity development; sustainable energy; and cross-cutting concerns.

We stress that climate change is a human rights issue. CHR reiterates that all human rights are interrelated, interdependent, and indivisible. Any threat to the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment is a threat to all other civic, political, economic, social, and cultural rights. Subsequent programs and policies by the government to address climate change must then be grounded on a human rights-based approach. To this we offer our National Inquiry on Climate Change (NICC) report () as a guiding framework with specific recommendations to governments, including our own; carbon majors and other carbon-intensive industries; financial institutions and investors; UN and other international bodies; national human rights institutions; courts and those in the legal profession; non-government and civil society organisations; and citizens around the world.

In the report, CHR has found evidence that major fossil-fuel companies or so-called ‘carbon majors’ engaged in willful obfuscation of climate science and obstruction of efforts towards a global transition from fossil fuels to clean renewable energy. Since the right to a healthy environment is a ‘claim right’, other parties—such as, businesses and other private enterprises—also entail responsibility towards right-holders. Citizens can therefore demand accountability from major polluters.

We urge the administration and its leaders to empower the people in this regard. CHR hopes for a just transition towards an environmentally stable economy where the benefits of science and technology are enjoyed by all; where all Filipinos are equipped with necessary knowledge and capacity to prepare for climate change impacts; and where mitigation measures are coupled with mechanisms for loss and damage for victims of climate change-related disasters.

CHR also looks forward to the creation of legally-binding instruments that will concretise the social responsibility of businesses in the context of climate change, as well as cultivate national independence from fossil fuels, following the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Alongside these, we implore for more intensified efforts from the government to restore biodiversity and protect environmental defenders and climate activists.