It is globally known that we are in a climate change era. Sea level rise, hurricanes, floods, wildfires and so on are all believed to be negative environmental impacts of climate change. It is imperative to note that the earth will seriously be affected if immediate measures are not taken to mitigate or adapt to climate change.
The Paris climate agreement, signed by 195 nations in 2015, seeks to limit a rise in global temperature to “well below” two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial times. Current government pledges to cut emissions, however, are seen to be too weak to achieve the 2C goal, meant to avert more droughts, more powerful storms, downpours and heat waves.
Rep. Rene L. Relampagos, of the First District of Bohol, emphasized, “The environment is a serious business. Climate change is a serious challenge worldwide. We need serious solutions.”
According to Reuters, the current trend in international studies gear towards natural climate solutions. On top of these efforts is the “regreening of the planet” through the planting of trees. The study identified that planting forests and other activities that harness the power of nature could play a major role in limiting global warming under the Paris agreement. The estimates for nature’s potential, led by planting forests, were up to 30 percent higher than those envisaged by a U.N. panel of climate scientists in a 2014 report. Natural climate solutions, also including protection of carbon-storing peat lands and better management of soils and grasslands, could account for 37 percent of all actions needed by 2030 under the 195-nation Paris plan, it said.
Trees absorb dangerous carbon dioxide. Trees emit needed oxygen. Trees reduce the risks of land run-off, erosion and flooding. 100 mature trees can reduce runoff caused by rainfall by up to 100,000 gallons. Trees are sources of renewable and clean energy. Trees are natural coolants. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, “the overall effect of the shade created by planting a healthy tree is equivalent to 10 room-size air conditioners running 20 hours a day”. Trees and plants can, therefore, be used to address significant environmental sustainability concerns and create positive environmental impacts.
“Ultimately, it calls us to have us to have a better stewardship of land and reshape sustainable land use systems,” noted Rep. Relampagos. “Lands are our allies in our fight against the ill-effects of climate change. Let us put it to good use.” The lawmaker joined the call of Congress to make tree planting mandatory by requiring parents to plant one tree to every child born to them.
Philippine Statistics Authority data shows that the country’s population, as of 2016, is at 103.3 million. Growth rate, as of 2016, is at 1.59%. “If we multiply the population with the growth rate, we have approximately 1,642,470 births per year. If that is translated to trees planted, then we will have a forest in no time”, the lawmaker notes.
“While the approach may appear too simplistic, we have to remember that it is the drops of water that fill the bucket,” he reflects. “What is nice about this proposal also is the fact that it recognizes the role of families in investing in nature. Climate change is, after all, our shared responsibility”.
Under the proposed bill, the parents are mandated, under pain of a ten thousand peso fine (Php 10,000.00) to plant trees for every birth or for every child born to them. The parents are required to take care of them until the trees reached maturity. Seedlings will be provided by the government.