Environmental highlights of 2023

Environmental highlights of 2023

As the year ends, let me recap the major local and international environmental developments in 2023, just like what I did in the past years. Here they are:

-With all COVID-19 restrictions lifted, dirty air greeted the New Year once more. It’s revenge pollution! There were less fireworks though compared to pre-pandemic years. Inflation has something to do with it. Even with the reduction in usage however, air pollution still reached unhealthy levels as seen from the readings of air monitoring stations in Metro Manila.

-The year is off to a warm start in Europe, said the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization as many national and local temperature records for December and January were broken in several countries, from southern Spain to eastern and northern parts of Europe.

-Good news in the Philippines. The Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 11898, also known as the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Act of 2022, was released by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on January 24, 2023, under DAO 2023-02. This law requires large-scale companies to establish a mechanism for the recovery of their plastic packaging. Good start.

-In March, a worrying news for Pampangueños came up. In about two decades, ten provinces in the Philippines are the most at risk of damage from extreme weather to their buildings and other property developments, according to a study. Pampanga is second on that list.

-In the middle of the year, PAG-ASA confirmed the presence of El Niño in the tropical Pacific and will persist until the first quarter of 2024. There are signs that it will strengthen in the coming months, said PAG-ASA. Luckily there was still rain until November.

-The third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-3) to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution took place in the UN Environment Programme headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya from November 13 to 19. The UN member states failed to reach consensus to mandate intersessional work. This delays advancements for the treaty process, considering that there are only two rounds of negotiations left. The target is to have a legally binding treaty by the end of 2024.

-The 28th meeting of the Conference of Parties (COP-28) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was held in Dubai from November 29 to December 12. The meeting closed with an agreement that signals the “beginning of the end” of the fossil fuel era by laying the ground for a swift, just and equitable transition, underpinned by deep emissions cuts and scaled-up finance.

-Another good news for the Philippines. On December 12, the House of Representatives approved on third and final reading a measure that will create the Department of Water Resources. The ball is now in the hands of the Senate to pass the counterpart bill so that this priority legislation will finally become a law.

-The most significant highlight of the year is the record breaking, consecutive warmest months from June to November. There are no reports yet on December but it will most likely be a record too. Because of this, experts said that 2023 will be the hottest year ever. The exceptional warmth in 2023’s is due to the combined effects of El Niño and human-caused climate change.

We’re hoping and praying that it will be better next year. Happy New Year everyone!


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