Legislators and legislation on climate
LONDON EYE - Stephen Lillie (The Philippine Star) - February 21, 2013 - 12:00am

Manila recently played host to GOPAC, the global movement of legislators against corruption. As preparations for that summit were underway, over 100 legislators from 25 countries were meeting in London to address another global challenge, climate change. The Global Legislators Organisation, or GLOBE, launched an initiative to set up around 40 national groups worldwide. Their aim is to build consensus on climate change, and develop national legislation by 2015.

The deadline of 2015 is no accident. That’s the year members of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including the Philippines, agreed to complete a legally binding global deal on climate change. Former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson famously observed that a week is a long time in politics, so 2015 may feel distant. But another significant intervention, this time at the World Economic Forum in Davos, underlines that time is actually short.

At Davos, Lord Stern, author of the landmark 2006 study on the economics of climate change, said that he had underestimated the risks and we were heading towards a 4 or 5 degrees Celsius increase in global temperature by the end of the century. The implications for countries in South East Asia could be severe. Back in 2009, a survey by the Asian Development Bank suggested that a group of South East Asian countries, including the Philippines, could see their combined GDP cut by 6.7% by 2100 because of climate change impacts. Lord Stern’s latest prediction suggests the risks may now be even greater.

The mix of countries at the GLOBE event was significant. They were from Europe, Africa, Asia, the Americas and Australasia. This cuts across old barriers between developed and developing countries. The world is changing rapidly, and many of the fastest growing countries are in the developing world. South East Asia emits almost same amount of greenhouse gases as the EU. Countries currently classified as developing emit 55% of global emissions and this will continue to rise. They must therefore be part of the solution. Yet discussion in the UNFCCC often feels like it has not caught up with this reality.

Too many attending the UNFCCC are not prepared to replace transactional negotiating positions with the politics of ambition and enlightened national interest. Legislators from countries such as Mexico and South Korea are trying to change this. They are driving domestic legislation, delivering jobs and growth in low carbon and demanding more ambition in the UNFCCC. New GLOBE chapters have been created in South Africa and Indonesia, joining forces with legislators in the UK who passed some of the world’s most ambitious climate legislations in 2008.

In these columns, I often talk about cooperation with the Philippines. We have worked together on environmental projects like E-Jeepneys here in Manila. But that has not always been the case on some of the strategic issues on climate change. We agree on the ultimate goal. But we haven’t agreed on how this should be achieved.

The Philippines has legitimate concerns about the need for more ambition and climate finance from some of the most developed countries. But that is only part of the answer. We have to stop the problem at source. That means everyone playing a role in efforts to curb emissions, in developing and developed countries alike. I very much hope that Philippine legislators will join GLOBE’s efforts to achieve this. 

(Stephen Lillie is the British Ambassador to the Philippines)

 

AMERICAS AND AUSTRALASIA ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK AT DAVOS BRITISH AMBASSADOR CHANGE CLIMATE CLIMATE CHANGE COUNTRIES FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER HAROLD WILSON LORD STERN SOUTH EAST ASIA
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