A greener economy will not only reduce environmental hazards but will also pave the way towards more sustainable development, says an officer of the International Labour Organizaton (ILO).
“All the laws that aim to protect the greater good… are urgently needed. The Green Jobs Act, couldn’t come at a better time than now, given the interest from the public and private sector on addressing the urgent climate change and environmental sustainability issues,” said Georginia Pascual, ILO’s project officer for Greener Business Asia.
As a complement to the existing Climate Change Act, Congressman Karlo Nograles of the first district of Davao City has filed House Bill No. 4969 or the Philippine Green Jobs Act of 2014, which aims to expand employment opportunities by utilizing green technologies or innovations that conserve natural resources or reduce environmental risks. Congressman Nograles is chairman of the Committee on Labor and Employment at the House of Representatives.
Recognizing the urgent need for climate-smart industries and services, Pascual emphasized that environmental sustainability is a challenge that is interlinked with social and economic issues.
“There are two criteria to be applied when creating green jobs—environmentally sustainable activities, products, and services and conditions for decency of work,” Pascual said.
She lamented that people fail to acknowledge the extreme effects climate change and environmental degradation have on work and business conditions that lead to health risks for workers and damaged facilities for businesses.
“An ordinary worker would have to deal with potential occupational safety and health risks and hazards when he goes to work during extreme weather conditions,” Pascual said. “Business facilities can be damaged. Eventually the losses and damages incurred by businesses could lead to closure and loss of jobs.”
But if the bill is passed and utilized well, it will open new ventures for businesses and expand employment opportunities while offering positive benefits to the environment.
“This will create space for new businesses and practitioners to come in. And, in turn, create new opportunities for employment and demand for production resource,” Pascual said.
Nograles, on the other hand, hopes that the bill will help prepare the local labor force and enable them with the correct skills and techniques to cope with the innovations that are expected as greener, newer and more environment-friendly technologies and industries are introduced globally and, more importantly, in the ASEAN region.
Pascual agreed by saying, “The major adjustments and investments would have to be done in the area of human resources and skills development. In terms of government contribution, this would mean rationalizing portions of the national budget towards programs that can support this objective, as well as sponsoring a process that can facilitate it efficiently.”
Pascual further said that any change like this one will require adjustments in the private sector but businesses should see it as a long-term investment and their contribution to environmental preservation.
“Any measure that would try to institutionalize a particular change will initially have its costs and maybe entail some sacrifices. This will only be detrimental to businesses’ financial aspect if they will not treat this as investment and as a contribution to a common effort to ensure their business’ sustainability,” Pascual said.
As an incentive to businesses, the proposed bill entitles participants to special deduction from gross income amounting to 200 percent of the total grants over and above the allowable ordinary and necessary business deductions under the National Internal Revenue Code, to be administered by the Department of Finance.
The United Nations Climate Summit was held recently in New York City where nations have vowed to take bolder measures to halt the perils of climate change, while agreeing that measures should be undertaken hand in hand with efforts to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development.
Nograles has also filed House Bill No. 5011 or the “Green Buildings Act” which promotes environment-friendly construction innovations to reduce negative building impacts on environment and human health. This measure is co-authored by Pampanga Representative Juan Pablo Bondoc.
Both the Green Jobs Act and the Green Buildings Act are expected to revolutionize the country’s labor force to prepare them for a greener and more environment-conscious market.