At the start of his administration, President Duterte expressed his opposition to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change signed at the United Nations in 2016 by some 170 nations, including the Philippines. He said it would hold back the nation’s industrial growth. He saw it as an imposition by developed nations, notably the United States and China, which had achieved growth through industries that polluted the world’s atmosphere and now want to stop other nations that are similarly industrializing.
Several officials immediately sought to convince the President that the Paris Agreement was in the best interest of the country, as the Philippines is among the nations most vulnerable to climate change, particularly rising sea levels that would inundate low-level islands around the world. Gina Lopez, the new secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, told the President the Philippines would benefit from a $100-billion fund that the Paris Agreement was setting up, funded by the industrial nations, to help victim countries like the Philippines.
Last Wednesday, President Duterte signed the Instrument of Accession to the Paris Climate Change Treaty. It now goes to the Senate for ratification. Once it is ratified, Senator Loren Legarda, head of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, said, the Philippines formally becomes part of the worldwide effort to limit worldwide temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Each nation had earlier submitted its own plan to help achieve the overall goal. The Philippines, In its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution which it submitted as early as October, 2015, said it will take steps to reduce its own emissions by 70 percent by the year 2030, through development of renewable energy, such as wind, solar, geothermal, water, tidal, and biomass.
The Philippines will now undertake a comprehensive review of this commitment, to take into consideration its capacity to implement this goal. To assist the country in these efforts, it will have access to the Green Climate Fund of the Paris Agreement, Senator Legarda said.
The Philippines was among the leading nations at the Paris conference, both as an island nation that stands to suffer a great deal if climate change continues unabated, and as leader of a campaign to limit the rise in global temperature to less than 1.5 degrees – not just 2 degrees, as was finally approved. Now that President Duterte, despite his earlier reservations, has signed the Instrument of Accession, and the Senate moves to ratify the treaty, we are back in our role as one of the leading nations in the worldwide effort to save our one and only planet Earth.