Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHFK RUEHHM RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHPB
DE RUEHML #0647/01 0830927
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 240927Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3624
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA IMMEDIATE 9906
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO IMMEDIATE 3695
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON IMMEDIATE 3459
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING IMMEDIATE 6530
RHHMUNA/USPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEHZU/APEC COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000647
EAP FOR AWYCKOFF
STATE FOR OES CDAWSON, EKANE
BANGKOK FOR REO HHOWARD AND RDMA WBOWMAN
JACARTA FOR USAID ANAKATSUMA
USAID EGAT FOR JHESTER, WBREED; ANE for JWILSON, MMELNYK; MTS/MLS
COMMERCE PASS NOAA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV EAID SENV TPHY TRGY TSPL RP
SUBJECT: Philippines: A Valuable Partner on Climate Change and the Environment
Ref: A) 2007 Manila 531 B) 2008 Manila 2731 C) Manila 00248
¶1. Summary: The Philippine government has demonstrated its
commitment to climate change mitigation and adaptation through
legislation, appointment of a presidential task force, ambitious
emission reduction targets, active participation on the U.N.
Framework Convention on Climate Change, and robust support for the
Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation and Coral
Triangle Initiative. Embassy Manila is engaged in all of these
efforts and USAID and the Philippine President recently signed a
bilateral agreement for millions of dollars of assistance to address
environmental concerns. We believe even more active U.S. engagement
with the Philippines on environmental issues can help make this
country become an even more valuable ally on these crucial issues.
Philippines’ Track Record for Environmental Action
¶2. The natural environment of the Philippines is seriously
threatened by pollution, over-exploitation, and habitat destruction.
The Philippine government is increasingly aware of the extent and
impact of environmental degradation and has taken steps to respond
to these threats both by themselves and in partnership with the U.S.
government. The Philippine Biofuels Act of 2006 mandates increased
biofuel blends over the next 10 years to increase energy security
and reduce emissions (Ref. A). The Renewable Energy Act of 2008
provides incentives to new investors in clean energy, as a move to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions (Ref. B).
¶3. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has demonstrated that the
environment is a key priority by creating and chairing the
Presidential Task Force on Climate Change, which meets every Friday.
In September 2008 she created a Cabinet-level position, Advisor on
Climate Change, to which she appointed former Senator and Department
of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Heherson T. Alvarez.
The President signed an order in 2007 to replace inefficient
lighting in government buildings within a year to save on costs and
energy. In January of 2008, she spearheaded an energy summit, and
one outcome was a commitment to replace one million incandescent
bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps in the private sector, with an
estimated $90 million per annum in energy savings. Her
administration recently announced an emission reduction target of
80% by 2050.
¶4. The Philippines was an original signatory to the expiring Kyoto
Protocol, but now is focused on the U.N. Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC). Three Filipino scientists serve on various
UNFCCC technical committees. The Philippines could be an important
bilateral partner for the United States during the climate change
negotiations in Copenhagen later this year.
U.S.-Philippine Cooperation for a Healthy Environment
¶6. In many of its most important environmental and climate change
priorities, the Philippines has counted on the USG for assistance.
For example, USAID was involved in the drafting and promotion of
both the biofuels and the renewable energy legislation. When
Filipino interlocutors expressed concern about methane emissions,
the Embassy was able to obtain a science fellow from the U.S.
Department of Agriculture who spent two months advising them on
methane collection from pig farms. The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency has sent an agricultural expert quarterly for
consultations with Philippine government and private industry since
the Philippines signed the Methane to Market Agreement in January
¶2008. The USGS has sent a scientist to advise the Philippine
government and private coal mines in coalbed methane recovery. Five
more Science Fellows have partnered with government and private
institutions on subjects like technology transfer legislation and
¶7. The Governments of the United States and the Philippines
established the Philippine Tropical Forest Foundation in 2002 under
the U.S. Tropical Forest Conservation Act. Two bilateral agreements
allow the Philippines to divert $8.25 million in interest payments
on debt owed to the U.S. for forest conservation. The Philippine
government has been enthusiastic about the accomplishments of this
MANILA 00000647 002 OF 002
Foundation, which has given 87 grants to conserve, maintain, or
restore Philippine tropical forests.
¶8. The Philippines hosted the second Coral Triangle Initiative
Senior Officials Meeting in October 2008 and Filipinos have been
running full throttle since on this exciting regional initiative to
protect “the epicenter of world marine biodiversity.” The U.S.
government is supporting the Initiative with over $40 million while
the Philippine government and civil society have been diligently
working with the U.S. government and the lead non-governmental
organization, World Wildlife Fund-Philippines, to present the
country’s action plan and participate in the region’s plan at the
Coral Triangle Initiative summit set for May 15, 2009 in Manado,
Indonesia (Ref. C).
¶8. Embassy Manila supports biodiversity conservation and education,
effective law enforcement, and sustainable environmental management
in the Philippines. USAID has a long history of development
assistance in both environment and energy issues in the Philippines,
with a recent emphasis on biodiversity conservation, clean energy,
and climate change. Last year, USAID signed a $73 million bilateral
agreement with the Philippines to provide assistance for
biodiversity conservation, clean energy development, and water and
sanitation projects over a six-year period. In 2009 the U.S.
government will fund two new climate change/clean energy programs,
as well as two or three new biodiversity conservation grants. These
activities are currently being designed in close collaboration with
Philippine government agencies, and will compliment or follow on
several successful ongoing programs.