Dutch financial giant ING Bank listed the Philippines among Asian countries that are missing a golden opportunity by leaving the environment out of its coronavirus spending plan. ING Bank believes countries are missing this opportunity to tackle the long-term threat of climate change as governments prioritize economic revival.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has offered governments around the world an opportunity for a total rethink on how their economies will operate in the decades to come. COVID-19 might be a near-term crisis, but global warming remains the longer-term threat,” ING Bank said in a report released this week.
“Few governments in Asia appear to have grasped this chance, with most choosing easier, but arguably less effective traditional stimulus approaches,” it added.
According to ING, the pandemic has forced nations to muster a large-scale fiscal bazooka to avert a deeper economic slump. In the Philippines, ING estimates showed the government has so far rolled out a P604 billion COVID-19 warchest.
ING believes the stimulus packages could have been used to back green projects meant to cut heat-trapping carbon emissions, instead of just cash dole outs, income subsidies and spending on health “with no emphasis on the environment or sustainability.”
Apart from the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan and Australia are just some of the countries that have neglected a greener recovery under their stimulus plans. What makes it different for us is our country has been declared as facing the highest risk of climate change hazards, according to the latest Global Peace Index released by the Institute for Economics and Peace. We lodged the highest scores in terms of hazards such as floods, cyclones and droughts and although COVID-19 has taken the forefront of our concerns, those hazards and risks are still present and will need to be addressed.
Well thought out green stimuli can still boost the economy and generate jobs but at the same time address climate change mitigation efforts. Just as the corrupt will find ways to milk the system, the upright should work harder to find ways to include environmental priorities in stimulus bill packages such as the so-called Bayanihan II.
We all tend to experience tunnel vision as far as COVID-19 is concerned but it is our government’s duty to use its immense resources to see better than regular folk and therefore prepare plans that benefit the most, the environment and our future included.*