By Elena Aben and MB Online
Despite acquiescing to his cabinet, President Rodrigo Duterte aired anew his qualms about ratifying the landmark Paris climate change agreement, which he said puts developing countries like the Philippines at a disadvantage.
The pact, which went into effect last November 4, seeks to cut the world’s warming temperature down by 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Duterte particularly raised his concern about how small countries could access the “common fund” or the fund to be pooled by industrialized nations like the United States to help smaller countries adjust to the effects of climate change.
“I just hope that the nations controlling the interests there including the money that they will contribute or the common fund which I think we are not qualified to be in there, ayusin lang nila because ‘pag hindi eh magwi-withdraw ako. I’ll be the first one,” Duterte warned.
He also pointed out what he considered a loophole in the supposedly binding agreement.
“You have a binding agreement and there is no sanction for a violation… So it means only one thing: that if you are a small nation and you are lumped together with big nations, the highly industrialized nations, you have to obey,” he said.
While Duterte vacillated about climate change, he said that “mankind should calibrate itself. As we go along the way, we improve the gadgets that emit emissions harmful to human beings.”
“I have my misgivings of the climate change pact because it’s a ruckus and even President (Fidel) Ramos criticized me for refusing at first,” said Duterte, who was persuaded by his cabinet to agree to ratifying the agreement.
In defense of coal
Nonetheless, he stressed the country needs power plants to drive the economy—with his cabinet “technocrats” advising him to develop industrial zones—and that the cheapest way is to use coal. He added coal is probably the safest if modern technology is applied.
“I would not mention the place but I was there somewhere in Mindanao and nakita ko iyong coal-power plant nila. And it was working well. I could see the steam, it was white. So, medyo siguro parang clouds. Sabi ko magaling ito, hindi madilim,” said the president.
“And there was an aviary beside and I could see the birds there were as healthy as the human beings working there. So wala sigurong problema dito,” he added.
Duterte said when he ordered the conduct of a study to monitor cancer-related deaths in the area over the past 10 years, the result yielded zero cancer epidemic.
“Mabuti kayo all those years you were spewing a lot of poison in the air, unbridled, unbothered, nobody molested you because you were the kings at that time. And you were doing it for so many centuries,” Duterte upbraided the developed countries.
Coal plant launch
The chief executive made the statement as he led the inauguration and ceremonial switch on of the 135-megawatt coal-fired power plant of Palm Concepcion Power Corp. at the Rizal Hall of Malacañang.
The Concepcion, Iloilo-based facility is a base load power plant which started operating commercially in August, significantly supplying energy to the Visayas grid.
Energy secretary Alfonso Cusi, PCPC chairman Walter Brown, and president and CEO Roel Castro joined the president in the ceremonial switch on.
In his speech, the Duterte congratulated the PCPC for its investment in Iloilo.
“You have helped the country. Do not worry about pollution, it’s always been there. It is up to our mankind to innovate and—you know come up with something, a good gadget that would compensate for all of these things, because we cannot… abandon the sources of energy,” he said, signifying that sun and wind sources of energy are still not viable in the country.
“The cheapest way is really to have coal. Just be careful that in the operation of the enterprise we do not get so much in trouble also with the regulators of our country,” he further stated.
Gina Lopez reappoinment
Meanwhile, the president also announced that he has reappointed environment secretary Gina Lopez, expressing his satisfaction with her work.
“Na-bypass siya ‘eh. But I like her and she’s okay, very strict, I like that. She is not corrupt, I like that. And she cannot be corrupted, I also like that. Why? Because I want my country also at least relatively safe from every predators from all sorts,” said Duterte.
Tags: carbon footprint, coal, coal-fired power plant, common fund, global warming, How can PH tap into climate change fund Duterte asks, Manila Bulletin, Palm Concepcion Power Corp., Paris climate change agreement, ratification, Rodrigo Duterte