The influential Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) has welcomed the inclusion of concerns on climate change and disaster risks management in the country’s environment impact assessment (EIA) system, but cautioned this must not become an added burden to new investors.
An EIA is a corporate action plan in complying with local environment protection and management laws required by the DENR for new investment projects in the country. It paves the way for the issuance or rejection of an environment clearance certificate, the first major step before an investment project is allowed to be put on the ground.
Pura Pedrosa, Policy and Planning Division Chief of EMB told the PCCI that dealing with natural hazards brought about by the changing climate conditions in the country must also be considered in an investor’s environment impact plan.
Projects to be covered by the new order will be big investment projects that range from agricultural plantations to thermal power plants. Small enterprises are exempted from securing environment clearance certificates prior to going into business.
Pedrosa explained that in considering future natural disasters, applicants for environment clearances need not make their own research but may rely on researches already made by government agencies like the disaster vulnerability map being prepared by DENR and the climate change impact projected up to the year 2050 prepared by the weather bureau.
Several companis have expressed concern that due to the lack of scientific knowledge, there is bound to be a lot of judgment calls on the parts of environment regulators in determining if an environment plan prepared by a company passes the added requirements of mitigating the impact of climate change.
This may lead to longer red tape, and worse, rejection of investment projects if the guidelines are not clear to investors.
PCCI suggested that if there is still room for further refinement of the guidelines, its own experts will be willing to sit down with environment officials to clear things up before the new order is fully implemented.
Pedrosa agreed that further consultation will be made with the private sector on the technical guidelines attached to the order.