World leaders are currently meeting in New York City for a UN Summit on climate change. Government, business, finance and civil society leaders – including US President Barack Obama and UK Prime Minister David Cameron – hope to craft concrete plans to reduce global deforestation, minimize industrial carbon emissions and increase international funding to help the world’s most vulnerable countries adapt to climate change.

In an impassioned four-minute speech, Philippine President Noynoy Aquino highlighted the resiliency of Filipinos against climate disasters like Typhoon Haiyan, the most powerful storm on record. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Philippines) lauds Aquino’s message but calls on both local and global leaders to do their part in addressing climate change through meaningful emission reductions and mobilizing much-needed climate finance to protect vulnerable people and communities across the globe.

Wind Power by Gregg Yan
Powered by the Wind: The Philippines has been gifted with abundant renewable energy resources. The Bangui wind turbines in Ilocos Norte supply 40% of the province’s power needs. Indigenous, clean and stable renewable energy sources can power the world. (Gregg Yan / WWF)

“We are doing our part – proving that we can rise above the strongest storms,” says WWF-Philippines Climate Change and Energy Programme Head Atty. Gia Ibay, “However, this is not enough.” Assailed by stronger typhoons, floods and droughts, the Philippines is the third most vulnerable country to climate change, a low-lying tropical archipelago besieged by no less than 20 storms yearly.

“We call on governments and business leaders to disinvest from carbon-intensive fossil fuels and to shift to renewable sources of clean energy today,” says Ibay. WWF believes in a two-pronged solution to address climate change. Climate mitigation looks at the reduction of global carbon emissions by shifting to renewable energy (RE) sources plus energy efficient practices and technologies, while climate adaptation considers the management of risk.

For the past four years, WWF and the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) have been spearheading a study to prepare 16 of the largest Philippine cities to adapt to climate change. In 2014, spurred on by Typhoon Haiyan, WWF developed an ongoing program to help storm-wracked coastal communities build their own fibreglass boats.

Yet, despite the Philippines’ wealth of indigenous RE sources, the government has approved the construction of no less than 20 new coal-plants. Most are expected to begin operating before 2020. WWF strongly urges the DOE and investors to maximize untapped RE sources in the country.

WWF’s International Seize Your Power campaign calls on governments and financial institutions to increase RE investments to at least USD40 billion (approximately PHP1.68 trillion) by 2015. For its part though, the Philippine government is taking steps to mitigate emissions – with the DOE pledging to triple the nation’s RE capacity from 5400 to over 15,000 megawatts. This switch requires investments of $12.4 billion over the next 16 years.

“In the face of difficulty, the Philippines plus many other developing nations are doing their part. The Philippine government has only allotted PHP500 million in unprogrammed funds this year for a People’s Survival Fund to help the adaptation efforts of local governments and communities. It’s time for world leaders – especially from countries which emit the most carbon –  to seriously commit to reducing emissions and scale up financial support for vulnerable countries to show that they truly mean business,” says Ibay.

Commitments from the UN climate summit will set the stage for more ambitious international discussions. Global leaders shall again convene this December 2014 in Peru for the next round of UN climate talks.

WWF-US Board Member and actor Leonardo DiCaprio adds that, “The economy itself will die if our ecosystems collapse. The good news is that RE is not only achievable but good economic policy. New research shows that by 2050, clean renewable sources of energy could supply 100% of the world’s energy needs using existing technologies, and it would create millions of jobs.”