The Duterte administration may have to bank on its new-found friendship with China for financial and technical support to combat climate change, after US President Donald J. Trump withdrew from the Paris Agreement.
“It will have a big impact. Globally, [besides] China, the United States is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse-gas emission. The US is also one of the biggest contributor in terms of funding for the UNFCCC [United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change]. With US President Donald J. Trump withdrawing, it means the US will not be forced to cut down its carbon emissions and its development track will continue. This also means that the funding for the UNFCCC may be withdrawn by the US,” said the Philippine official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak on behalf of the Philippine government on the issue.
The official, who is familiar with the Paris Agreement, added the Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries to the impact of climate change.
No less than the Philippines’s Climate Change Commission (CCC), the country’s climate-change coordinating body, said in its official statement the Philippines is deeply troubled by the decision of the US to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.
According to the official, the Philippines, which has among the least contribution to greenhouse-gas emission, will benefit from financial and technical support promised by developed countries under the Paris Agreement.
The deal aims to reduce carbon emission to limit global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees between 2020 to 2030, and provide support to nations that are highly at risk to climate-change effects.
“If the US signs and ratify the Paris Agreement, vulnerable countries, like the Philippines, can demand for financial support from the United States. Without the US, we will have to depend on China for financial and technical support,” the official said.
What the Philippines and other vulnerable nations can do is pressure the US to honor the Paris Agreement, he added.
The official said that with Trump’s withdrawal to the UN climate treaty, other countries, even China, might eventually withdraw commitment to the Paris Agreement.
“If that happens, the treaty collapses,” the official warned.
Appeal to US
Appealing to the US government to reconsider its position, the CCC said the US, one of the world leaders, would have played a key role in creating the much-needed global paradigm shift toward a more climate-resilient and climate-smart future.
“The Philippines, as one of the most vulnerable countries to the adverse effects of climate change, affirms its commitment to the Paris Agreement. We recognize the need for all countries to work together to address the increases in global temperature, which have resulted and will continue to result in more intense and frequent typhoons and droughts for the Philippines, threatening the security of our people, the food and water needed to sustain them, and their livelihoods,” the statement read.
Early last week civil-society organizations led hundreds of Filipino communities on the forefront of the climate crisis to assert the protection of human rights and the environment in time for the celebration of the World Environment Day.
The Green Thumb Coalition (GTC), a network of local and national groups for the environment, organized a “green freedom space” on Timog Avenue Rotonda in Quezon City, where various organizations and individuals expressed their calls concerning the environment, the climate and development.
In a media statement, Norie Garcia, head of the GTC Secretariat, enjoined the public in affirming their constitutional right to a healthful and balanced ecology, and urged the government to fulfill its mandate and prioritize the welfare and livelihood of the Philippines in its policies.
After a motorcade depicting the current status of the planet and various issues affecting the people, the activity culminated in an assembly in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources building.
“We challenge the government to silence the doubts concerning the rejection of former Environment Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez by continuing the initiatives pursued by the [environment] department, not just on mining, but also on other issues, like curbing emissions, clean energy, waste management, protecting biodiversity and reforestation,” Garcia added.
The group also criticized Trump for walking out of the Paris climate agreement, saying it was a blatant neglect of the US’s historical responsibility in the climate crisis.
Pascualito Ilagan, a Tacloban resident and survivor of Supertyphoon Yolanda (international code name Haiyan), in a statement, expressed his frustration over the US’s exit from the climate accord.
A member the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice-Tacloban (PMCJ Tacloban), he said climate-vulnerable communities are still paying for the cost of the destruction of the climate, four years after Yolanda, one of the world’s strongest and deadliest typhoon, hit the Philippines.
“We suffered death and destruction due to Yolanda, followed by poverty and displacement due to the failed rehabilitation efforts from the part of the government. Now it seems that justice is still [out of touch] for the people devastated by Yolanda, as the primary culprits of this deadly climate are walking out from their responsibility,” Ilagan said.
“The US exit is unacceptable, as it has not finished delivering reparations for us and for many others who have suffered from [effects of] climate change,” Ilagan added.
Gerry Arances of the Center for Energy, Ecology and Development said the backlash of the international community and world leaders after Trump’s announcement of the US’s Paris deal exit was a reflection that decision runs contrary to the international consensus on climate and energy.
“Globally, the price of solar-and wind-energy technology have drastically gone down because of an upsurge in investment on renewables,”Arances said. “And there’s the shifting energy policies from coal by countries across the world, with the US even responsible for a significant part of the 64-gigawatt retirement of coal plants from industrialized countries.”
“This exit is a blatant denial of the reality of climate change, and will serve not even US citizens, who also face widespread pollution and climate disasters in their country. This will only serve coal companies which feel threatened by decreasing investments and support for fossil fuels,” Arances added.
Group dares Duterte
GTC noted President Duterte, who has previously bashed the US and other developed countries for their historical role in contributing to the climate crisis, signed the Paris climate deal last March, giving in to the pressure from affected communities, civil society and voices within the government. Sanlakas Secretary-General Atty. Aaron Pedrosa dared Duterte to condemn Trump’s move. The US chief executive had previously praised Duterte for his “unbelievable job on the drug problem” in the Philippines.
“If President Duterte is on the side of his constituents in the issue of climate, we urge him to demand from the US to honor their obligations to the climate [agreement] and the Philippines, [which is] still among the top five most climate-vulnerable countries,” Pedrosa said.
“By withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, the US has once again turned its back on its responsibility to the Filipino people. In doing so, Trump has signed a death warrant for vulnerable countries, like ours, who are at the receiving end of the rich countries’ unabated GHG [greenhouse-gas] emissions,” Pedrosa said.