MANILA - Climate activists have welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing of the Paris Agreement on Tuesday.
They said this is a clear sign that the President is serious in fighting climate change, especially since the Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries to the adverse effects of global warming.
“Nakikita natin yung sincerity ng Pangulo upang makiisa sa international community na i-address ang problema ng climate change,” said Yeb Saño, executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
(We can see the President’s sincerity in cooperating with the international community to address the problem of climate change.)
Saño added that while Duterte put off signing the document for several months, this is still an auspicious time for the Philippines to join the U.N. climate negotiations since the implementing mechanisms for the accord will still be discussed in the coming months.
The Paris Agreement, upon achieving the threshold for the number of countries that have ratified it, entered into force last November 4, 2016.
Red Constantino, who heads the policy group Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, said ratifying the Paris Agreement can only be good for developing nations, as this will compel developed countries to make greater reductions in carbon emissions and provide substantial financial support for climate adaptation and mitigation programs.
This is also an opportunity for the global south consisting mostly of nations susceptible to extreme weather conditions brought about by climate change, to prove that they can do their part in the efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
“I don’t think we will be penalized by climate action, especially because climate action is more than an energy transition. We need to upgrade everything, from infrastructures to supply chains and urban services. This means pump priming the economy to produce more jobs for Filipinos. And if you add energy transition to the mix it makes complete sense,” Constantino said.
Saño and Constantino also pointed out that while the United States, a major carbon polluter, would most likely turn its back on its commitment to the Paris Agreement under the Trump presidency, the Philippines is forging ahead with its obligation.
“Yung comparison sa Pangulo ng Amerika at Pangulo ng Pilipinas, makikita niyo ang malaking pagkakaiba dahil ang Pangulo natin lumagda na at naniniwala ng husto sa climate change at iniisip ang kapakanan ng mahihirap,” Saño said.
(You’ll see a big difference if you compare the President of the United States to the President of the Philippines because our President already signed the Paris Agreement and strongly believes in climate change and also considers the plight of the poor.)
“The U.S. may change its course, but the Philippines, with the President’s actions will not turn its back on its global obligation to contribute to solutions to the global climate crisis,” Constantino said.
According to Voltaire Alferez, climate activist and executive director of Community Crafts Association of the Philippines, the very survival of their livelihood depends on how the severe impacts of climate change will be dealt with.
Extreme weather has hurt agriculture, which is the source of raw materials for their products. They consider the ratification of the Paris Agreement a victory for their communities as well.
“The loss of native handicrafts will also mean the loss of our Filipino culture that these products symbolize. Climate change poses a threat to our sources of living as well as to our safety and security, “ Alferez said.
The Instrument of Accession document that Duterte signed signifies the Philippines’ ratification of the climate pact. It has been received by the office of Senator Loren Legarda, who will sponsor it for concurrence in the Senate which is the final step in the ratification process. Legarda has said that she sees no roadblocks in the Senate for the Paris Agreement to be ratified immediately.
Saño, Constantino, and Alfrerez believe that ratifying the Paris Agreement will give the Philippines the moral ascendancy to urge other nations to step up their game in the climate fight. But we must also do our fair share, they added.