(As published in the Manila Bulletin, 13 February 2019)

By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

Former United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres is expected to arrive in the Philippines Wednesday evening as part of an Asian tour to draw in more transformative climate investments in the region.

Figueres, the architect of the Paris climate agreement and now the convenor of the global initiative Mission 2020, is meeting business leaders and government officials to drum up and develop collaborative initiatives across Asia that promote investment opportunities, as well as assess risks, associated with inaction in the face of worsening climate change impacts.

She visited the municipality of Guiuan in Eastern Visayas in 2015 with former French president Francois Hollande in the lead up to the Paris climate talks.

On Thursday and Friday (Feb. 14-15), Figueres will meet with Senator Loren Legarda and other government officials, private sector representatives, civil society groups, and faith-based organizations.

She will be coming from Japan, whose prime minister Shinzo Abe has declared climate change as a priority for his leadership of the Group of 20 this year.

After the Philippines, she will head to Indonesia, the second largest exporter of coal worldwide.

“We have the strongest business case for climate change action in history, both on the side of risks to business as well as on the side of opportunity,” Figueres said.

The world is moving irrevocably toward a low-carbon global economy, creating a vast global marketplace for green buildings, clean energy and smart cities that is now waiting to be unlocked. A combination of technology advances, market demand, and regulatory change make this the ideal time for business leaders to step up and take advantage of the opportunities inherent in a greener future,” she added.

Former United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres

Figueres said the Philippines is in a position to lead the clean energy race in Southeast Asia, stressing that governments have the power and responsibility to spur needed investments and direct finance flows to low carbon development.

“The timing and purpose of Figueres’ visit to the Philippines is perfect. This is the right time to convey and extend support to the Philippine government’s efforts to promote more affordable, reliable, clean, and secure renewable energy investments,” said Red Constantino, executive director of Manila-based Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities.

Promoting far greater competition and climate ambition are key to driving the country’s power sector towards more efficient and modern energy systems that are ultimately responsive to the needs of both business and working class households in the country,” he added. ###