The CCC, however, remained mum about Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.’s statement that he would reject “all official participation” in climate change conferences that would require air travel.

Climate body: Foreign conferences important

Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) - June 8, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Climate Change Commission (CCC) stressed yesterday the importance of the Philippines’ participation and being at the forefront of international efforts to address climate change.

The CCC, however, remained mum about Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.’s statement that he would reject “all official participation” in climate change conferences that would require air travel. 

Weighing in on the issue, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) expressed opposition to the decision to stop sending representatives to the numerous international climate change conferences abroad.

The CCC reiterated its call for countries, especially the developed nations, to step up climate action efforts and to deliver more ambitious commitments to mitigation with utmost urgency and equity.

CCC secretary Emmanuel de Guzman said the Philippines, being one of the most vulnerable countries that bear the brunt of the devastating effects of climate change, will continue to actively pursue climate action in the context of climate justice.

“We support the statement of President Duterte, our chairman in the commission, that all governments must do their fair share in combating the climate crisis,” De Guzman said.

More than 195 countries, including the Philippines, that have ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change meet annually at the Conference of Parties since 1995 to take stock of their progress, monitor the implementation of their obligations and continue talks on how best to tackle climate change.

The next round of climate talks will be held in Santiago, Chile in December where countries will work on the progress of climate action.

De Guzman, however, lamented that global action against climate change has been slow.

“The Philippines has been actively pursuing climate action, but largely on our own efforts and resources. We have no choice but to act, and sometimes we have bilateral partners to thank for when they give some help. With the unrelenting impacts of climate change in our communities, we must do all we can to survive and thrive as a people and nation,” he said.

Locsin on Wednesday announced on Twitter that the Philippines would no longer send official representatives to climate change conferences requiring air travel.

“Following (President) Duterte’s answer to UN’s plea for yet another stronger stand against climate change – which he branded as more hot air – I am rejecting all official participation in climate change conferences requiring air travel. We’ll just vote yes to radical proposals. No more talk,” Locsin said.

In another Twitter post on Thursday, Locsin clarified that the country would still remain a participant of UN conferences on climate change, but through online communication.

“We just vote without talking. A Nauru UN conference in New York said that using air travel to talk about climate change makes the climate worse,” Locsin said.

“Internet na lang. Clean communication,” he said.

In his speech at the Nikkei International Conference on the Future of Asia in Tokyo last week, Duterte slammed the UN climate conferences, claiming they have accomplished nothing to improve the situation. He said UN climate conferences are a “waste of time and money.”

De Guzman agreed with the President, saying there is indeed a need for clarity of commitments by all countries on mitigation and climate finance.

“It’s time to raise the profile of climate issues and radically step up our efforts. We need real action and accountability from the developed countries that is primarily responsible for the climate crisis,” he said.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on a 1.5-degree warmer world released last year paints a grim scenario of the worst impacts of climate change, such as the increasing risk to drought, flood, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

It underscores the most urgent need for rapid global action.

The report said world leaders have only 12 years to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 45 percent of 2010 levels if they want to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Not in vain

For her part, CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said the Philippines’ participation in such “climate change talks” ensure that the country gets its position in on the “climate discourse.”

She said talks on climate change “impact us greatly” as the Philippines is battered by around 20 typhoons yearly.

“We hope that despite non-attendance, we will remain active in climate change prevention,” De Guia said. 

“Our participation in global discourse is not in vain. In 2015, as chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, the Philippines led the advocacy for global warming threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius. This ambitious goal is now enshrined in the Paris Agreement, which is meant to strengthen and guide efforts for global climate action,” she noted.

De Guia said participating in the global discourse can also be an avenue to press for greater responsibility and accountability, especially from the primary contributors of global emissions.

She also pointed out that it was important for the Philippine government to continue to keep its commitment in preventing climate change and to actively implement policies to mitigate its impact. 

“For our part, the CHR conducted a national inquiry to probe the alleged responsibility of major fossil-fuel companies to climate change and how this impacts the human rights of Filipinos,” she said. 

“The future of humanity is at stake and our country is among those that bear the brunt of this global phenomenon. We, therefore, encourage the government to take advantage of all avenues that aim to address the climate problem,” she urged. – With Rainier Allan Ronda

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