Fighting climate change urgent as battling COVID-19, Duterte tells UN

John Gabriel Agcaoili, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 23 2020 04:51 AM

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte addresses the public after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on September 14, 2020. Ace Morandante, Presidential Photo/File

MANILA - The urgency required to fight the raging coronavirus pandemic is also needed to tackle climate change that is affecting the world in different but severe ways, President Rodrigo Duterte said in his first appearance at the UN General Assembly.

In a video message to the UN convention that aired early Wednesday (Manila time), Duterte said that global warming and other climate-related issues have "worsened inequalities and vulnerabilities from within and between" countries across the globe.

"Climate change has worsened the ravages of the pandemic. Peoples in developing countries like the Philippines suffer the most. We cannot afford to suffer more," he said.

Duterte urged the UN member states part of the Paris Agreement -- which is aimed at slashing greenhouse gases and keeping global temperature increases -- to honor their commitment.

"The Philippines joined the Paris Agreement to fight climate change. We call on all parties, especially those who have not made good their commitment to fight climate change, to honor the same," he said.

"We call on all parties to strengthen communities and peoples for preparedness and resilience. We are talking about mankind and Earth, our one and only home."

Duterte in 2017 signed the Paris pact years after nearly 200 countries agreed on a binding global compact to slash greenhouse gases and keep global temperature increases to "well below" 2 degrees Celsius. Manila had promised to cut carbon emissions by 70 percent by year 2030, even if the country is not a major emitter.

Earlier this month, UN chief Antonio Guterres warned world powers to pull together and retool their economies for a green future or humanity will be "doomed."

He said the coronavirus crisis may have put climate to the sidelines as nations launched unprecedented lockdowns to try to slow the pathogen's spread, bu the need for climate action was more urgent than ever.--With a report from Agence France-Presse