Climate and Environment

Finance, Foreign Affairs execs make up bulk of delegation to UN climate talks

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
Finance, Foreign Affairs execs make up bulk of delegation to UN climate talks
File photo shows Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez.
The STAR/KJ Rosales

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will send a 19-person delegation to the pivotal United Nations climate conference, a team dominated by officials from the finance and foreign affairs departments.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III will serve as the head of the Philippine Delegation to the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, also known as COP26.

Dominguez was designated by President Rodrigo Duterte as the chairperson of the country’s Climate Change Commission.

The following will join the finance chief in the Scottish city of Glasgow to discuss what needs to be done about climate change, according to a memorandum signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea:

Office of the President

  • Undersecretary Robert Eric Borje

Department of Finance

  • Undersecretary Mark Dennis Joven
  • Assistant Secretary Paola Sherina Alvarez
  • Director Neil Adrian Cabiles
  • Jenevive Lontok
  • Sharmaine Dianne Ramirez
  • Nathan Eleizer Bayasen
  • Cherry Mae Gonzales
  • Martin Lorenzo Perez

Department of Foreign Affairs

  • Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr.
  • Philippine Ambassador to the United Kingdom Antonio Lagdameo
  • Leila Lora-Santos of the Philippine Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York
  • Assistant Secretary Maria Angela Ponce
  • Beatriz Alexanda Martines
  • George Benedict Pineda

Department of Energy

  • Undersecretary Felix William Fuentabella
  • Karlo Louise Matias

Department of Environment and Natural Resources

  • Director Albert Magalang of the Climate Change Information and Technical Support Division

No one from the Climate Change Commission is in the delegation. CCC is the country’s policymaking body on climate adaptation and mitigation.

‘Climate finance COP’

According to Tony La Viña, associate director for climate policy and international relations of Manila Observatory, it is “good” that the country’s delegation is headed by Dominguez because this year’s climate summit is focused on climate finance.

One of the core goals of COP26 is for the developed countries to make good on their promise to mobilize at least $100 billion in climate finance per year by 2020. According to a recent report put together by officials from Canada and Germany, the pledge is expected to be attained in 2023.

“It’s the prerogative of the president to choose who will represent the country in international negotiations. I expect the delegation to be well briefed by the CCC and the diplomats who have been attending the COPs,” said La Viña, who was part of the Philippine delegation in previous climate summits.

Finance Assistant Secretary Paola Alvarez said in a forum hosted by the British Embassy in Manila on Tuesday that the Philippine delegation “will champion climate justice and we will push developed countries to pay up in terms of financing.”

The delegation is expected to present the country’s sustainable finance roadmap in Glasgow. The roadmap, launched by the DOF and the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas last week, sets the guiding principles that will create the environment for greener policies.

Renewed commitment

La Viña also stressed the attendance of two department heads shows the administration’s renewed commitment to tackling climate change. 

“Duterte was not really interested in the international aspects of climate change in the first few years of his presidency,” he said.

“Climate change was marginalized in this government until now. That is why it’s good that both DFA and DOF secretaries are there. It shows renewed commitment.”

In 2017, Duterte threatened he would not honor the 2015 Paris Agreement, believing it would hurt the efforts of the Philippines to industrialize. Two years later, he called climate conferences a “waste of time and money.”

La Viña also said there should be a representative from state weather bureau PAGASA in the delegation as the landmark report of UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is expected to be discussed in the conference.

The report, released in August, stressed that humans are causing climate change and described possible futures depending on how nations slash carbon emissions. 

COP26, scheduled to take place from October 31 to November 12, is seen as the “last, best chance” to avert the worst impacts of climate change.

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