Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Something Good Will Happen


SOMETHING GOOD WILL HAPPEN
by Antonio C. Antonio
November 13, 2014

QUESTION:  Looking at environmental lobbying (in the Philippines? International context?) as a strategy in environmental advocacy, how have we fared so far?

I would prefer to believe that environmental lobbying as a strategy in environmental advocacy is workable.  But this is not just a simple gut feel but there are several events that give credence to the fact that environmental lobbying really works.

In August 8, 2014 I wrote a blog “Losing Our Lives” (http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/2014/08/losing-our-lives.html) which narrated how the U.S. Environment Protection Agency ruled on substantially reducing carbon emission.

 “Mitigation might no longer be the prime strategy since Global Warming and Climate Change is already upon us.” (Antonio, 2013, “Typhoon Yolanda”, http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/2014/04/typhoon-yolanda.html)  Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), the most powerful tropical storm ever to make landfall is a prime indicator of climate change and global warming.  The rise in water level and increase in temperature in the Pacific Ocean provided a deadly combination of causes that made Typhoon Yolanda a killer that took the lives of over 8,000 Filipinos in 3 hours of fury.  “Yolanda is a 1st World problem which unfortunately happened to a 3rd World country.  Our government (both national and local), obviously ill-prepared and ill-equipped to cope with such a disaster, was initially overwhelmed, shocked and paralyzed.  The United States, with all its wealth and power, also failed to stop Hurricane Katrina which registered 230 KPH winds… Yolanda was over 250 KPH.  If governments (our own and other countries) cannot stop typhoons, what can ordinary people like us do to stop natural calamities?  Nothing.” (Antonio, 2013. “Typhoon Yolanda”, http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/2014/04/typhoon-yolanda.html)  

“The Philippines is located in the typhoon alley of the Pacific West and is frequently visited by tropical typhoons… some 28 of them yearly.  Typhoon Yolanda, however, is a class of its own but new studies show that its strength was a result of global warming.  Typhoon Yolanda could have dealt the country a crippling blow that we cannot cope with without help from other countries.  We, Filipinos, will forever be grateful to the American people for being one of the first to come to our aid and rescue in those trying days in November 2013.

Natural disasters are the business of the Gods which the Gods never meant to cause upon man… but man has contributed largely in making natural disasters happen.  Unrestricted carbon emissions from coal plants have contributed considerably to green house gases (GHG) and air pollution.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently proposed regulations that represent the most significant measure the United States has ever done to combat climate change and global warming.  The proposed regulations were designed by the EPA to gradually reduce carbon emissions and air pollution which may not be significantly felt in the United States but are wrecking havoc of disastrous proportions to 3rd World countries like the Philippines with Typhoon Yolanda.  However, last July 31, 2014, members of the United Mine Workers of America from 12 states (Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming) joined forces to nullify the EPA’s rules through the court system.  They rallied before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to express their collective grievances mostly revolving around losing jobs and livelihood opportunities.

The Philippines and other 3rd World nations pale in comparison to the United States in terms of economic wealth and power.  It will not be difficult to assume that the US government, because of its vast resources and the presence of economic development wizards, can whip up alternative industries and livelihood opportunities for coal mining and power plant industry workers.  We, Filipinos, have a simple appeal to the United Mine Workers of America… Please give us a chance to live.  While you are concerned about losing your jobs in a society and country of vast resources and opportunities, we are a poor people simply concerned about losing our lives.” (http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/2014/08/losing-our-lives.html)

In the recently concluded Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing, China, the United States and China announced that they will curb their greenhouse gas emissions over the next two decades.  It should be noted that these two countries are considered as the world’s largest economies, the biggest energy consumers and the highest emitters of greenhouse gases.  The U.S. agreed to cut its 2005 level of carbon emissions by 26 to 28% before 2015.  On the other hand, China agreed to peak its carbon emissions by 2030 and will also aim to get 20% of its energy from zero-carbon emission sources in the same year.  The agreement was signed by President Barack Obama and President Xi Jinping last November 11, 2014.

Environmental lobbying is defined as the process of putting pressure on members of the legislature or seeking to influence a politician or public official to pass bills on an environmental issue or established public policies on the environment.  The normal targets of environmental lobbying are the elected senators and congressional district representatives since our legislative branch is bicameral in structure.  Environmental lobbying with the legislative branch is effective on non-existent public policies of measure that are still to be passed as bills and enacted into laws or republic acts.   However, lobbying could also be done with the executive department particularly the department secretaries especially on laws that still lack the implementing rules and regulations or are presently being implemented.

Last November 8, 2014, I posted a blog “Somebody Read My Blog” (http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/2014/11/somebody-read-my-blog.html): “From the environmental and ecological viewpoints, Philippine urban centers do have so many problems.  I have chosen to write about the urban problems and solutions of Metro Manila since this is where my family and I live.  As citizens of the biggest metropolis in the Philippines, we are exposed to its good and bad environment.” (Antonio, 2014)

In April 29, 2014, I blogged an article titled “Problems of Philippine Urban Centers” (http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-problems-of-philippine-urban-centers.html).  To aid in the analysis of the situation, I made a matrix.  The first was the PROBLEM COLUMN; the second the CAUSES COLUMN; and, the third the SOLUTIONS COLUMN.  The identified PROBLEM was “Air Pollution”, the identified CAUSE was “Old/Surplus Vehicles”; and, the identified SOLUTIONS were: “(1) Ban the importation of old and surplus motor vehicles; (2) Ban the entry of old vehicles into Metro Manila; and, (3) Pay higher motor vehicle registration fees for old vehicles.”

Last week, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) came up with a statement that the level of pollution in Metro Manila is worsening every day.  And to reduce Metro Manila’s carbon footprint and curb the rapidly deteriorating air quality in the metropolis, drastic measures had to be made.  70 to 80% of the air pollution in Metropolitan Manila is caused by vehicular emissions while 20 to 30% come from industrial emissions.  "Clearly, the key to improving Metro Manila's air quality is by addressing the biggest source of pollution, which is motor vehicles," the DENR pointed out. "We are therefore proposing an early implementation of the Euro 4 Standards for automobile fuels and the scrapping of older high-polluting vehicles.”  The DENR proposes to move the implementation of this measure from January 1, 2016 to an earlier date in the month of June 2015. 

The phasing-out of vehicles that have been operating for more than 15 years shall be done through the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).  If this is strictly followed next year, this means cars models 2000 and older will be banned from Metro Manila streets.  This will not only reduce carbon emissions but also effectively reduce the number of vehicles in the metropolis; therefore, an additional measure to solve the traffic congestion problem.  I understand that safety nets or support system are also being considered to mitigate the effect of this measure especially on the transportation sector… details of which are yet to be made public.

In April 22, 2014, I wrote another blog titled “The Ripple Principle” (http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-ripple-principle.html) which essentially says that environmental lobbying could come in the form of “noise” created in all conceivable media (mainstream or social) outlets by ordinary citizens like us or even loosely organized pro-environment groups.  The point is simply making “noise” about our environmental concerns until this “noise” is heard by someone (or an organization; especially government) who could actually do something about it.  I’m just glad that someone read my blog.”

Patience is a virtue in environmental lobbying.  Environmental advocates, activists and lobbyists should be relentless in the pursuit of their cause.  Sooner or later something good will happen.

Just my little thoughts…

(Please visit, like and share Pro EARTH Crusaders and Landscape Ecology UPOU on Facebook or follow me at http://antonantonio.blogspot.com/.)


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