Cimatu rallies support for phasedown of climate-warming HFCs

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu on Thursday appealed to the refrigeration and airconditioning sector to support the gradual phasedown of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are powerful greenhouse gases (GHG) contributing largely to global warming.

The environment chief made the appeal as the country joins the rest of the world in celebrating the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer on September 16, which also marks the 30th anniversary of the signing of the landmark Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone.

According to Cimatu, the gains from the Montreal Protocol, particularly the phaseout of several ozone-depleting substances (ODS), are being threatened by the use of HFCs as alternative refrigerants.

"HFCs are not ODS, but are potent GHG which can have high global warming potentials and are rapidly increasing in the atmosphere," Cimatu warned.

"Without any mechanism to control HFCs, it is predicted that its emissions could negate the climate benefits achieved by the Montreal Protocol," he added.

Commonly used in refrigerators and airconditioning systems, the HFCs are called "super greenhouse gases" with a warming effect that can be several thousand times greater than carbon dioxide.

HFCs were developed after the phaseout of the ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons and hydrochlorofluorocarbons required by the Montreal Protocol in 1987.

The climate benefit of reducing HFC emissions has been widely recognized, leading to an amendment of the Montreal Protocol, known as the Kigali Amendment, calling for developed countries to start to phase down HFCs by 2019 and in developing countries including the Philippines to follow with a freeze by 2024.

Adopted on October 15, 2016 in Rwanda and expected to enter into force on Jan. 1, 2019, the Kigali Amendment aims to avoid nearly half a degree Celsius of warming by the end of the century.

Cimatu said the Philippines can greatly benefit from the financial and technical support provided under the Montreal Protocol for parties to the Kigali Amendment.

He noted that the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol has provided over US$3.5 billion to developing countries to phase out ODS.

"This can definitely help affected sectors in the country to transition from HFCs to natural climate-friendly alternatives, such as carbon dioxide, ammonia and hydrocarbons which do not cause global warming," he pointed out. ### 


Congress approves DENR budget for 2018

The House of Representatives approved in plenary on Monday the budget of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for 2018.

The agency’s budget proposal for next year, amounting to P27.1 billion, is higher by 1.77% from this year’s allocation of P26.6 billion.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu expressed gratitude to the lawmakers for their continued support to the agency, as well as to Rep. Corazon Nunez-Malanyaon of the first district of Davao Oriental, for sponsoring the department’s budget at the plenary, which, he said, would enable the department to give vital support to the goals of the 2017-2022 Philippine Development Plan that the government has adopted as per Executive Order No. 21 issued by President Rodrigo R. Duterte last June 1.

“With the budget, the DENR will work towards ensuring ecological integrity and improving the socio-economic conditions of resource-based communities by sustaining biodiversity and the functioning of ecosystem services, improving environmental quality, and increasing the adaptive capacity and resilience of ecosystems,” Cimatu said.

Based on the DENR budget, the Enhanced National Greening Program gets the lion’s share of P7.1 billion, which seeks to plant some 198 million seedlings in 210,852 hectares.

From 2016 up to June this year, the DENR has recorded a total of 303,188 hectares of new plantations under eNGP, generating some one million jobs in the process.

The Duterte government hopes to reforest some 1.2 million hectares, from 2017 to 2022.

Under its 2018 budget, the DENR earmarks Php 1.25 billion for its intensified environmental protection program to pursue clean water, air and solid waste management; PhP 1.08 billion for biodiversity conservation and the scaling-up of its Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Management Program; Php 634 million for forest protection and anti-illegal logging campaign; Php 585.5 million for land administration and management; and Php399.3 million for geohazard mapping, groundwater assessment and responsible mining.

For its attached agencies, the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority or NAMRIA, the National Water Resource Board (NWRB) and the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, will get P1.46 billion, P145 million and P100 million, respectively. ###


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