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Rody to ink Paris climate pact

RATED A - Christina Mendez, Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star
Rody to ink Paris climate pact
Bowing to the will of his Cabinet, President Duterte has changed his mind and is now ready to sign the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.
PPD / Ace Morandante, file

MANILA, Philippines - Bowing to the will of his Cabinet, President Duterte has changed his mind and is now ready to sign the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement.

Duterte acceded to the near-unanimous position of his Cabinet after discussing the merits of the Paris agreement, its impact on the economy, how the Philippines could access the multibillion-dollar Green Fund and other related matters.

“After so much debate, I will now sign the climate change (agreement), because (of the) unanimous vote except for one or two. And I am the other one,” Duterte said yesterday.

Speaking during the signing of an executive order that expands the composition of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) in Malacañang, Duterte said he needed to thresh out matters with his official family.?“For me, because it’s a Cabinet decision, I’ll go along with it and sign it. As I have promised you, I will not solve this problem alone. I will give it, place it on the table, give the Cabinet members, the whole of the Cabinet, to vote,” Duterte said.

“Right now, I am not really comfortable with it. Of course, we are now bound if we sign it. But in matters of enforcement, if they say it’s a binding treaty, there has to be a sanction. So otherwise if you don’t, there’s something coming up your way,” the President said.

In his previous speeches, Duterte said he was not ready to accede to the agreement because it would limit, if not impede, the country’s industrial and economic development.

He also blamed developed countries for contributing heavily to the damage on the environment, which led to rising climate levels.

“The problem is, read again and again and then you’ll find that there is sanction. Even in the matter of contributing the money to a common fund,” he added.

The Paris agreement took effect last week. The Philippines has been a proponent under the previous Aquino administration but the Palace has yet to submit the agreement to the Senate for ratification.

Duterte again raised his concerns over the apparent lopsided provisions on sanctioning countries that violate the agreement.

The 2015 Climate Change agreement sets a goal of limiting global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.

The agreement calls for zero net anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions to be reached during the second half of the 21st century. 

If the Philippines ratifies the Paris agreement, proponents said it will help the country in adaptation efforts. 

At the same time, it would give the Philippines, as a vulnerable developing nation, access to the $100-billion Green Climate Fund.

Duterte said the Green Fund is not an outright payment for damages.

“For after all, ang hinihingi lang nila sa atin is 0.3. With China about 24 carbon emissions, footprints,” he noted.

Duterte also questioned why the Philippine Congress passed a law, where the country has to reduce by 70 percent carbon emission when there is much lower target under the Paris Agreement.

“Tayo 0.3 lang ang hinihingi nila sa atin. But ang national law natin says that over the years, we will have to reduce it by 70, if I’m not mistaken. Hindi na kaya, sobra nga eh,” he said.

Duterte said he discussed the matter extensively with members of the Cabinet during a meeting last week.

US pressure

Taking potshots anew at the United States, the President expressed apprehension over how countries such as the Philippines would be at a disadvantage in terms of enforcement of sanctions.

“So, that if it is a low country in terms of economic level, the big ones will always force upon you to do it. But if it is the highly industrialized countries, there’s nothing you can do about it because the sanctions… cannot be done by the smaller nations, let alone without the powers of pressure,” he said.

“The name of the game is pressure,” Duterte said.

Reading from the provisions of the agreement, Duterte said acceding to the agreement does not give the country automatic access to the Green Fund.

“The other thing is, they get the money. Now remember, contrary to popular belief, we read the contract word for word, ‘the fund to be culled from rich industrial countries’, only up to that point,” the President said.

While the Paris Agreement gave clear pathways and a final destination in respect to decisive action on climate change, the UN said many of the details regarding how to move forward as one global community still need to be resolved.

The UN said this is a moment of celebration but also a moment of reflection on the task ahead and a point where governments recommit to the new agenda of rapid implementation, not least in pressing forward with adequate support for vulnerable countries to take their own action.

 

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