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Philippines wants better use of climate funding

Philippines, January 5 – The Philippines is in line to receive some 11 million euros in climate adaptation funding from European countries starting this year, as part of a promise made by industrialized nations in Copenhagen back in 2009.

But while the Philippines finds good use for the money, they question if the present financing scheme effectively helps them cope with the effects of climate change.

European Union countries lined up at the recently concluded U.N. climate summit in Cancun to announce their national contributions to the fast-track financing package they allocated to developing countries.

Peter Wittoeck of the European Union said in Cancun that they have already handed out 2.2 billion euros to developing countries out of a target 7.2 billion euros for fast-track financing.

“We want to give it where it’s most needed. It will be unconditional to [a country’s] association with the Copenhagen Accord,” he said.

EU’s provisional list shows that the Philippines – which has not signed the Copenhagen Accord – received 3.6 million euros from Germany in 2010 and is also set to receive a portion of an 8 million euro grant from the European Commission in 2011.

Philippine negotiator Naderev Sano said in an interview that the funding so far only addresses small projects that do not directly address critical adaptation needs of the country. The funding does not align with the Philippines’ national climate adaptation plan, he added.

The Philippines, which has recently set up its own climate change commission, has identified coastal protection projects as a high priority and would prefer that funding go to those projects first.

“We don’t want small change. We are more vulnerable than other countries, and the Philippines cannot afford not to be aggressive on this issue,” he said.

One of these fast-track funds was allocated to a Forest and Climate Protection project in Panay Islands in Western Visayas, Central Philippines.

The project was designed to protect one of the last remaining 50,000 forest areas in the Central Panay Mountain Range. The mountain range is currently being destroyed by illegal logging and fuel wood extraction.

The other two projects are mainly aimed towards local capacity-building.

The Philippine delegation also pointed out that the current fast-track funding may not qualify as new or additional. Climate adaptation funding being “new and additional” refers to the fact that funds should be an increase from existing climate-related funds and not merely diverted or substituted from other objectives.

But another Philippine official, speaking anonymously, said there was nothing new and additional about these funding allocations. He said the fast-track funding allocated to the Philippines by the EU involved environment-related projects already agreed upon and allotted even before the signing of the Copenhagen Accord in December 2009.

The London-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), in a briefing paper on climate finance, says assessing which funds are actually additional is difficult in climate funding, as there is a substantial overlap between climate change projects and aid for development.

But from the Philippines’ perspective, new and additional climate funding is funding that is approved by the parliament of the donor countries only after the enactment of the Copenhagen Accord, said the Philippine official.

Laurence Graff, head of the international relations unit in the climate change department of the European Commission, said the fast-track funding was meant to help developing nations in the interim while a climate adaptation fund under a bilateral or multilateral system is under way.

“We have to do with whatever we have right now. Once the fund is under way then the UNFCCC can guide the use of the fund,” Graff said in an interview.

As country delegations take stock of the talks in Cancun, Philippine officials said they hope long-term adaptation funding will soon be approved under the UNFCCC, and that it will be separate from the fast-track financing under the Copenhagen Accord. They said for adaptation funding to work, developed nations have to follow the national adaptation priorities of countries on the front line of climate change and not their own agenda.

Written by Beverly Natividad

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