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Climate change – Attention: P. Digong, Cabinet, and Congress

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By Fidel V. Ramos

Former Philippine President

 

“World leaders hailed the breakthrough accord approved in Paris by negotiators from 195 nations to stop global warming – thus offering hope that humanity can avert catastrophic climate change and usher in an energy revolution”••••

— New York Times,

14 December 2015

 

“Duterte had said he would

not honor the Paris Agreement, calling it stupid and absurd”••••

— The Philippine Star,

24 October 2016

 

In his consistently frequent insulting diatribes against the US, EU, and the UN, in which President Du30 also keeps complaining against the December, 2015,  Paris Agreement on Climate Change (crafted by 195 nations, the Philippines included), he is unwittingly shooting himself in the mouth, and also all of us, 101.5 million Filipinos. He may claim that to be more “insulting than friendly” to our long-established allies is part of his God-given “destiny.” But, this is obviously wrong, and full of S…. T !!!.

So, is he allowing his countrymen/women to continue suffering from the devastating effects of typhoons “Karen” and “Lawin” – which are the forerunners of serial catastrophe “La Niña” (twin of destructive drought “El Niño”), about which Earth’s people were warned more than 20 years ago, and which must now be mitigated by more intense international cooperation and collective positive action???

SUPER-TYPHOON LAWIN’S DAMAGE TO AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES HAS REACHED AT LEAST P10.2 BILLION IN NORTHERN LUZON, WITH RICE, CORN, AND VEGETABLES SUFFERING THE HIGHEST LOSSES, ACCORDING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE. AGRICULTURE SECRETARY MANNY PIÑOL FLEW TO KALINGA VIA MILITARY CHOPPER TO ASSESS DAMAGE BROUGHT BY LAWIN IN REGION 2 (CAGAYAN VALLEY).

“BASED ON INITIAL ASSESSMENTS, THE DAMAGE INFLICTED ON THE AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES SECTOR DOES NOT YET FULLY REFLECT THE DESTRUCTION BROUGHT BY SUPER-TYPHOON LAWIN IN THESE REGIONS AS WE ARE STILL IN THE PROCESS OF ASSESSING ALL SECTORS,” PIÑOL SAID. (MANILA BULLETIN, 24 OCTOBER 2016).

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), for its part, said the damage to infrastructure in 4 regions of Northern Luzon – Regions 1, 2, 3, and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) – as a result of the typhoon climbed to P1.5 billion. These massive losses plus the continuing misery of millions of our people in the affected areas in terms of destroyed homes, diminished livelihood, inundation, absence of electric power, and disruptions in schoolwork are TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE.

CLIMATE CHANGE CAUSED BY GLOBAL WARMING

SCIENTISTS AND NATIONAL LEADERS SAID THE TALKS IN PARIS IN DECEMBER, 2015, REPRESENTED THE WORLD’S LAST, BEST HOPE OF STRIKING A DEAL THAT WOULD BEGIN TO AVERT THE MOST DEVASTATING EFFECT OF A WARMING PLANET.

By approving the accord, nations committed themselves to keep the rise in global temperatures by the year 2100 compared with pre-Industrial Revolution levels “well below” 2.0oC and “endeavor to limit” them even more to 1.5oC. That was the key demand of poor countries ravaged by the severe effects of climate change and rising sea levels.

Wealthy countries were asked to set aside at least $100 billion yearly as financial assistance to developing countries starting 2020 to enable all countries to actualize renewable (or green) energy sources. Such allocation is expected to increase with time.

UN SECRETARY GENERAL BAN KI-MOON SAID: “THIS IS TRULY A HISTORIC MOMENT. FOR THE FIRST TIME, WE HAVE A TRULY UNIVERSAL AGREEMENT ON CLIMATE CHANGE, ONE OF THE MOST CRUCIAL PROBLEMS ON EARTH.”

THE ACCORD THUS BINDS NATIONS TO LIMIT THE AMOUNT OF GREENHOUSE GASES EMITTED BY HUMAN ACTIVITY TO THE SAME LEVELS THAT TREES, SOIL AND OCEANS CAN ABSORB NATURALLY, BEGINNING AT SOME POINT BETWEEN 2050 AND 2100.

MALACAÑANG’S INACTION AND NEGATIVE RHETORICS

The Philippine Star, reported (24 October 2016): “President Duterte yesterday said he would develop the Philippines according to the needs of Filipinos as he slammed Western countries anew for imposing carbon limits on our country to mitigate the impact of climate change.

“Addressing residents affected by Typhoon Lawin in Tuguegarao, Duterte said the carbon restrictions set under a climate deal approved by over 150 countries in Paris would slow down industrialization of the Philippines.”

The Philippines, one of the top five countries most prone to disasters, has yet to ratify the agreement. The Philippines under then President Benigno Aquino III promised to cut carbon emissions by 70 percent by year 2030, even if the country is not a major emitter.

SINCE ASSUMING THE PRESIDENCY ON 30 JUNE 2016, THE DU30 ADMINISTRATION, UNFORTUNATELY, HAS DONE LITTLE TO MOVE THE PARIS AGREEMENT FORWARD SO THAT THE PHILIPPINES CAN BE CREDITED WITH HAVING RATIFIED THIS SUPER-IMPORTANT AGREEMENT THAT WOULD PROLONG MANKIND’S SURVIVAL ON PLANET EARTH.

Last April, more than 150 countries inked the historic Paris climate deal that seeks to limit global warming “well below” two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. World leaders have also vowed to work to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

COMMENTARIES ON THE PARIS AGREEMENT

The President maybe is correct in saying that developed countries who are responsible for the majority of historical emissions should carry the larger burden of limiting emissions and that developing countries, such as the Philippines, who contributed little to historical emissions should be allowed to continue to grow their economies, especially if such is done in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication. This is, in fact, the principle of Common But Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR), on which the Paris Agreement is based.

ON THE OTHER HAND, IT IS CLEAR ENOUGH (AND SHOULD BE READILY UNDERSTOOD BY LEADERS) THAT THE PARIS AGREEMENT DOES NOT IMPOSE EMISSION REDUCTION ON THE PHILIPPINES. SHOULD ANY COUNTRY DECIDE TO EVENTUALLY BECOME A PARTY TO THE AGREEMENT, IT WILL ONLY BE ASKED TO SUBMIT ITS NATIONALLY DETERMINED CONTRIBUTIONS, WHICH ARE ESSENTIALLY SUCCESSIVE 5-YEAR CLIMATE PLANS THAT WE CAN DETERMINE ON OUR OWN, ACCORDING TO OUR NATIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES, DEVELOPMENT GOALS, AND DOMESTIC CAPACITY.

THE PARIS AGREEMENT ALSO DOES NOT HAVE TO COUNTER OR REDUCE OUR COUNTRY’S INDUSTRIALIZATION PLANS. IT, IN FACT, RECOGNIZES THAT DEVELOPING COUNTRIES CAN PEAK THEIR EMISSIONS AT A LATER TIME, AS THEY PURSUE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND POVERTY ERADICATION ACCORDING TO THEIR RESPECTIVE NATIONAL PLANS.

THE MAIN OPPOSITION OF PRESIDENT DU30 TO THE PARIS AGREEMENT SEEMS TO BE THE 70% EMISSION REDUCTION GOAL BY 2030 RELATIVE TO ITS 2000-2030 “BUSINESS-AS-USUAL” SCENARIO, WHICH THE PHILIPPINES SUBMITTED TO THE U.N. LAST YEAR AS ITS INTENDED NATIONALLY DETERMINED CONTRIBUTION (INDC). IT IS, HOWEVER, JUST AN INDICATIVE NUMBER AND IS CONDITIONED ON THE PROVISION OF FINANCIAL, TECHNOLOGICAL, AND CAPACITY-BUILDING SUPPORT.

Our Climate Change Commission, in coordination with concerned agencies, is currently reviewing these indicated figures. In a meeting with concerned agencies last July, it agreed to strongly consider revising some numbers and to prioritize and highlight instead the country’s adaptation and loss and damage actions (being one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change) in its final Nationally Determined Contribution, which can be submitted as late 2019, should the Philippines become a party to the Paris Agreement.

SHOULD THE PHILIPPINES RATIFY THE PARIS AGREEMENT?

Ratifying the Paris Agreement will allow the Philippines to participate in the global effort to address climate change and advance the interests of our country and our people, as one of the most vulnerable to climate change. It will also enable us to secure more investments towards our climate goals and gain access to the financial, technological, and capacity-building support to be provided to parties of the Agreement.

Not ratifying the Paris Agreement, on the other hand, will force us to continue on our own without having to consider or report on our contributions to the global response to climate change. Note, however, that our country has spent an average of 0.5% of its GDP per year for the past 25 years for “Losses and Damages;” so we are, in effect, already paying for the impacts of climate change to which we have contributed very little. (For perspective, the Philippines is responsible for only about 1/3 of 1% of yearly global emissions).

Todate, 85 (out of 197) parties accounting for at least 55% of global emissions have already ratified the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement shall therefore enter into force on 04 November 2016, and the first meeting of the “Conference of the Parties Serving as the Meeting of Parties to the Paris Agreement” will assemble in Marrakech, Morocco, on 07 November.

WITH THE PHILIPPINES NOT HAVING YET RATIFIED THE PARIS AGREEMENT, WE CAN ONLY BE OBSERVERS IN THE MARRAKECH MEETING. THEREFORE, PRESIDENT DIGONG SHOULD FORTHWITH APPROVE THE PARIS AGREEMENT AND CERTIFY IT FOR SENATE RATIFICATION TO PROMOTE OUR COUNTRY’S INTERESTS AND FIGHT FOR CLIMATE JUSTICE.

ANY FURTHER DELAY WILL INCREASE FILIPINOS’ VULNERABILITY TO SUPER-TYPHOONS THAT ARE FORECAST TO COME SOON (AT LEAST FIVE)!!!

IS “EVERYTHING LOST?,” ASKS SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA (PHILIPPINE STAR, 25 OCTOBER). MAYBE NOT YET EVERYTHING – BUT MUCH GOODWILL, INTERNATIONAL CONFIDENCE, AND VALUABLE TIME HAVE ALREADY BEEN WASTED!!!

Please send any comments to fvr@rpdev.org. Copies of articles are available at www.rpdev.org.

 

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