Cablegate: Engaging the Philippines On Climate Change in the Run-Up To

DE RUEHML #3847/01 3390827
O 050827Z DEC 07




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Engaging The Philippines On Climate Change In The Run-Up To
Bali, and Beyond

REF: State 00159374

1. Summary: Ambassador and country team have conveyed, publicly
and privately, U.S. positions on climate change and the importance
of the Bali meetings with senior officials and key audiences.
Longstanding USG environmental programs and public diplomacy in
support of the environment provide a ready platform for climate
change messages. Philippine government officials are generally
receptive to the U.S. message, have established a presidential task
force and action plan, and could serve as useful partners for the
U.S. Delegation in Bali. End Summary.

Climate Change in The Philippines

2. The Philippine Government stance on climate changes has
generally followed that of the U.S. Recently, the climate change
debate has heated up in the Philippines with release of the UN's
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate 2007 Report.

3. The recently re-invigorated Presidential Task Force on Climate
Change has the lead on the issue in the Philippines. The Task
Force, commissioned to "address and mitigate the impact of climate
change in the country" is chaired by Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes
and includes the secretaries of environment and natural resources;
science and technology; agriculture; defense; interior and local
government; and education, as well as the chair of the Commission on
Higher Education and two representatives of the private sector and
civil society.

4. In October, the Philippines held a National Conference on
Climate Change Adaptation. There, the Task Force launched the
Philippine Climate Change Response Action Plan, which outlines
various strategies on climate change and the role the Philippines
will play to address climate change. The plan focuses on both
mitigation (avoiding emissions) and adaptation (preparing for the
effects of climate change).

5. The Philippine Government delegation to Bali will be headed by
Environment Secretary Lito Atienza. Other senior officials include
Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes, who will attend as Chairman of the
Task Force, and Agriculture Secretary Art Yap.

Engagement with Government and NGOs

6. The Ambassador conveyed U.S positions on climate change and the
Bali meetings with Task Force Chair Reyes. Reyes was receptive to
U.S. views on climate change and agreed on the importance of the
Bali meeting. He said he looked forward to working with the U.S.
Delegation in Bali.

7. The Philippine Secretaries of Environment and Agriculture are
currently out of the country. The Ambassador will reach out to them
when they return to Manila and before they leave for Bali on
December 10. Econoffs and USAID have also discussed the upcoming
Bali meetings with decision-makers in various Philippine agencies
and leaders of civil society organizations to discuss the role and
positions the U.S. will take in Bali and the U.S. government's
long-term commitment to tackle this serious challenge. Their
response was overwhelmingly positive.

USG Environmental Programs as Platforms for Public Messages

8. The USG enjoys a close working relationship with government,
private sector and civil society in the energy and environment
sectors. USAID's development assistance program has long supported
Philippine government efforts on climate-linked issues, such as
promoting renewable energy and cleaner fuels and forest management.
These relationships, particularly those with the energy and
environment departments, provide the USG with an open, effective,
and continuous channel for discussing and shaping climate change
thinking in the Philippines.

9. Given this relationship, from the Chief of Mission to technical
staff level, Post routinely uses events, conferences, and informal
dialogue to communicate climate change messages and help identify
appropriate solutions for the country. The Ambassador has taken
advantage of recent opportunities in print, television, and radio
throughout the Philippines to voice U.S. concern and educate the
Philippine public about U.S. actions to mitigate climate change.
Last May, Ambassador Kenney delivered numerous climate-friendly
messages on the occasion of Earth Day. Last month, in Zamboanga,
Mindanao, Ambassador Kenney responded to climate change questions
from the press. This week, the Ambassador travels to Banaue in
Northern Luzon and will use the opportunity to increase press
coverage of the Bali meeting and the U.S. position.

10. In October, Embassy Officers participated in the National
Conference on Climate Change Adaptation, engaging dozens of
stakeholders on climate change issues. On November 27, USAID and
the Department of Energy held an Annual Program Review, during which
continued assistance on climate change-related issues was discussed.

MANILA 00003847 002 OF 002

Through USAID, Post will continue to be involved in addressing
climate change-linked issues, including further development and
implementation of the Philippine Climate Change Response Action

11. Comment: We find the Philippine government and population to
be broadly in agreement with the U.S. view on climate change.
Though the Philippines is not a key player on this issue, given the
harmony of viewpoint, together with a longstanding history of
development assistance to the country on climate change, the U.S.
Delegation may find it worthwhile to reach out to its Philippine
counterparts as a friendly partner in Bali.


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