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9 June 2010

Philippines: “Victim of Climate Change with good carbon footprint”

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President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo held a brief meeting with former US Vice President Al Gore during his environment lecture series at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City Tuesday, assuring the American environmental advocate that the Philippines has a “good carbon footprint.”

Mrs. Arroyo was on her way to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport for a two-day trip in Shanghai when she dropped by at the complex to squeeze in a meeting with Gore.

“I was telling him that the Philippines has a good carbon footprint but we are such a big victim of climate change and he agrees with that,” President Arroyo said. “We were also talking about you know like we have a small carbon footprint but we have done a lot of good legislations like climate change act, renewable energy law,” she added. During his lecture, Gore said the fight for solutions to save the Earth from the effects of global warming and extreme weather conditions is not yet over and that it only requires a credible demonstration of political will from world leaders.

“We have everything we need to do the right thing and we just need political will,” Gore said during his lecture, titled “Leadership Conference Series 3: The Leader as Environment Steward” held at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City.

Gore, who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for raising awareness on climate change, was optimistic that it was never too late to save the planet, believing that “political will is a renewable resource.”

Although he acknowledged that solving global warming, which is caused by increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, is an uphill battle, Gore said this is not the time to declare the problem hopeless and give up.

“We’ve solved environment crisis in the past. Carbon dioxide is more difficult but we’ve done difficult things in the past. We can do great things in this world. People think it’s impossible but it’s the right thing to do,” Gore told the audience which include the who’s who in politics, business, civic, and non-government works and diplomatic community.

During his more than one-hour presentation, Gore treated his audience to “The Inconvenient Truth” experience. It was like the Academy-award winning film coming to life.

In his opening statement, Gore introduced himself in a jest as one who “used to be the next President of the United States,” which drew loud laughter from the audience.

“I don’t think it’s funny. I hope someday I can appreciate that line,” he said obviously in jest. For Gore, global warming is neither a political or economic issue, but a moral and spiritual issue.

The matter, he said, “goes to the heard of we are as God’s children.” He believes that if people are capable of destroying the environment, they too are capable to saving it.

He said solutions to global warming are not beyond the reach with the presence of renewable energy resources like wind power, solar energy, geothermal power, and nuclear energy.

Gore said “sustainable forestry and agriculture can play a big part of the solution” to global warming.

“The best way to store carbon is vegetation. Sustainable agriculture can also store huge amount of carbon,” he pointed out.

He noted that various parts of the world had started to experience the horrible effects of global warming, including historic flooding, powerful typhoons, droughts, and forest fires.

Meanwhile, Gore said nuclear energy may be one of the renewable sources to combat the adverse effects of climate change but he warned of its dangers as a source of nuclear proliferation.

Gore said that aside from the increasing cost of building a nuclear power plant, which has gone to as high as 15 percent in the last 30 years, an issue hounding nuclear power is nuclear proliferation.

“Another problem is the weapons proliferation,” Gore said, citing that studies have proven that nuclear weapons proliferation is “connected to a nuclear reactor program.”

“We don’t want to spread nuclear weapons,” he said.

According to Gore, nuclear weapons are among the many science and technology breakthroughs that have “unintended side effects.”

“We are becoming a force of nature… We’re so far the largest force of nature in our planet,” Gore said.

Gore said there are other renewable sources of energy such as wind, solar, and geothermal, wherein the country can bank on, adding that the Philippines is a leader in the three renewable energy sources with its wind power in Bangui, Ilocos Norte; solar power in Los Banos, Laguna; and geothermal plants, of which the Philippines is number two in geothermal power generation after the US. (With a report from Madel R. Sabater)


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