A study explores the potential of the Philippines to engage in carbon sequestration projects to mitigate climate change. Done in 2005, the study sees the Philippines, with its tropical forests, fallow areas, and vast areas of degraded land has the potential for carbon sequestration through reforestation and rehabilitation.
The study cites two carbon sinks projects, the Laguna Lake Development Authority – Tanay and Conservation International Philippines.
The Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) is selling carbon sequestered through the Municipality of Tanay and the LLDA. The farmers from the Tanay watershed implemented the project from 2004 to 2014. were the implementors of the project.
The project promises to capture and sequester 3,204tC in a high scenario, and 1,424tC under a low scenario, with a corresponding value of US$ 70,54 and US$ 31,380 respectively.
The Conservation International Philippines through reforestation activities expects to sequester a total of 512,000tC for 30 years.
The environmental services of these forests in mitigating climate change include the following:
- First, the conservation of existing carbon stock by protecting forest reserve.
- Second, the expansion of carbon stocks by increased carbon sequestration through the widening of the forest area and increasing storage in durable wood products.
- Third, the substitution of wood products for fossil-based products.
For example, instead of cement-based products and other construction materials that are fossil-fuel intensive, construction materials and biofuels from forest timbers and trees can be a climate-friendly option.
Carbon sequestration activities have brought added services and benefits to the community as well. Through it, private lands were reforested, which were otherwise bare.
The establishment of agroforestry farms in public lands has allowed the community to grow and harvest their crops and giving them a source of livelihood and reduce their reliance on forest projects like logging and slash-and-burn farming, which contributes to deforestation and land degradation. Forestation has also provided protection for soil erosion, especially along the river banks.
Reforestation projects are community-based and involve the community, local non-government organisations (NGOs), the local government, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the project’s monitoring team, and the funding organisation.
The World Bank through its carbon fund, BioCarbon Fund is the only buyer of emissions reduction from both carbon sink projects at the time of the study.
The details of the carbon compensation mechanism are still being worked out. Answers to questions like how will the carbon income be divided among stakeholders and farmers, and what projects will be financed from this income are still being ironed out.
The study concluded that there is a great potential for carbon sequestration projects in the Philippines citing the millions of hectares in the uplands that pose an ecological and economic threat if forest cover is not restored.
The main challenge is a lack of clear signal from the Philippine government whether carbon sinks projects are welcome in the country. Moreover, there is a perception that carbon sinks projects are not welcome according to the study. Neighbouring countries like China and Indonesia, on the other hand, is already starting their groundwork for carbon sequestration projects. If the Philippines is to take advantage of the carbon market it is important for the Inter-Agency Committee on Climate Change (IACCC) to resolve this issue, the study states (Lasco, et al., 2005).
The Asian Development Bank report on Emission Trading Schemes in Asia and the Pacific in 2016, lists the countries in the Asia Pacific with existing and emerging emission trading systems. The Philippines is not on the list which means that it does not yet have a carbon emissions trading system in place as of the date of the study (Emissions Trading Schemes, 2016).
On 12 January 2017, the Philippines and Japan signed an agreement to establish a Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM) where Japan will implement various projects that will reduce their GHG emissions in the Philippines using Japan’s low-carbon technology (Japan and the Philippines, 2017).
It is good to know that a study on the potential of establishing Carbon sequestration projects in the Philippines has been done. Carbon sequestration projects have impacts on the environment and economy of host countries. It can enhance the climate adaptation strategies of countries vulnerable to the effects of climate changes, like the Philippines.