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Paris climate deal takes effect today

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced that the Paris Agreement signed by world leaders last April will enter into force on Nov. 4, as enough countries have signed the accord. AP/Seth Wenig, file

MANILA, Philippines - The Paris Agreement on Climate Change takes effect today, even if the Philippines has not validated its joining the international treaty after President Duterte expressed disapproval.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has announced that the Paris Agreement signed by world leaders last April will enter into force on Nov. 4, as enough countries have signed the accord.

“What once seemed unthinkable, is now unstoppable,” Ban said. “Strong international support for the Paris Agreement entering into force is a testament to the urgency for action and reflects the consensus of governments that robust global cooperation, grounded in national action, is essential to meet the climate challenge.”

But he cautioned that the work of implementing the agreement still lies ahead.

“Now we must move from words to deeds and put Paris into action,” he said. “We need all hands on deck – every part of society must be mobilized to reduce emissions and help communities adapt to inevitable climate impacts.”

On the home front, Sen. Loren Legarda called on Duterte yesterday to finally agree to the treaty, as the Philippines has everything to gain and nothing to lose.

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Legarda urged the President to sign the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, so it could be ratified and sent to the Senate for concurrence.

Legarda said now that the Paris Agreement has come into force, it is a must for the Philippines to ratify the treaty as one of its signatories in New York last April 22.

Legarda, the United Nations Global Champion for Resilience, renewed her call to concerned agencies of government, led by the Climate Change Commission (CCC) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), to work together for the Philippines’ ratification of the treaty.

“I call on all government agencies concerned to submit their respective certificates of concurrence (COC) in the Paris Agreement to the CCC and the DFA,” Legarda said. “We understand that the government is in transition, but we expect that the CCC and the DFA have already met with the agencies and have explained the importance of this agreement in our pursuit of sustainable development and climate and disaster resilience,” said Legarda.

By ratifying the treaty, Legarda said the Philippines would be able to gain access to funds that would help the country adapt to climate change impacts.

The CCC is in the process of gathering all COCs from the member agencies of the Climate Change Commission Advisory Board and the Cabinet Cluster on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation.

Of the 33 member agencies of the Advisory Board and the Cabinet Cluster, Legarda noted that 10 agencies have submitted their COCs so far.

Once complete, Legarda said the DFA would endorse all COCs and the instrument of ratification to the President for signing.

Legarda vowed to shepherd the Senate’s concurrence to the treaty once it receives the document from Malacañang.

“The Paris Agreement is very important for the Philippines, being one of the most vulnerable nations to the impacts of climate change,” Legarda said. “We need to ratify the agreement so that we can access the Green Climate Fund.”

She stressed: “This is what we have been waiting for – for developed countries that are the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases to aid vulnerable, low-emitting nations like the Philippines. The Paris Agreement addresses the issue of climate justice, which is the President’s concern.”

Legarda said there is no reason for the Philippines not to ratify the treaty because it has nothing to lose from it.

“There is no provision in the Paris Agreement that would prevent our industrialization,” she pointed out. “We have nothing to lose, but everything to gain with it.”

Under the Paris Agreement, developed nations are asked to decarbonize economy-wide. They must raise $100 billion every year to help vulnerable nations like the Philippines in mitigation and adaptation, and to transfer technology.

On the other hand, the agreement acknowledges that developing nations like the Philippines will take time to decarbonize and will be able to do so with external support.

The Philippines was instrumental in the crafting of the Paris Agreement, which seeks to limit global warming to well below two degrees Celsius, and possibly not more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

House members for treaty

Noting the Philippines’ vulnerability to natural disasters, congressmen of different party affiliations called on the President yesterday to reconsider his decision not to join the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Militant lawmakers like Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Zarate joined the call of Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe to acknowledge the benefits the treaty holds for developing nations.

Batocabe is chairman of the House special committee on climate change.

The two legislators got the support of Rep. Emmi de Jesus of women’s advocate Gabriela party-list and Reps. Prospero Pichay of Surigao del Sur, Gil Acosta of Palawan and Estrellita Suansing of Nueva Ecija.

The Bicol region, which Batocabe represents, is always a victim of natural disasters, thus susceptible to the harmful effects of climate change.

Batocabe said his region needs measures to soften nature’s blows.

Members of Batocabe’s committee are willing to sit down with Duterte and present the treaty’s benefits to the country.

The President is reportedly now keeping an open mind, following former president Fidel Ramos’ unsolicited advice to agree to the treaty.

Zarate said an independent foreign policy, the suspension of mining corporations and a critical view of the Paris accord are some policy directives that must be supported and reinforced.  – With Delon Porcalla, Pia Lee-Brago

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