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Speech: Senate Concurrence in the Accession to the Paris Agreement

March 14, 2017

Speech of Senator Loren Legarda
Senate Concurrence in the Accession to the Paris Agreement
14 March 2017 | Senate Session Hall

Mr. President, fellow members of the Senate, ladies and gentlemen:

I stand before you today as your Chair for the Committees on Climate Change and Finance, and apart from this duty, in my many years as public servant, I have learned to fight for what I believe is best for the environment and our people.

Since the Philippines’ signing of the Paris Agreement on Earth Day, April 22, 2016, in New York, I have advocated for its ratification on the firm belief that it is in our best interests to do so.

Thus, my heartfelt thanks for your unanimous support on this historic day of the Senate’s concurrence in the accession to the Paris Agreement.

First, the Paris Agreement is a testament of solidarity and a call for global climate action.

The Paris Agreement shows that developing nations and the developed countries could pursue climate action and uphold climate justice together.

With the Yolanda tragedy, the Philippines became the face of climate vulnerability. We have hardly contributed to climate change, and yet we are the victims. The world listened to our voice in the climate talks. We had the moral suasion. We were regarded the leader of the vulnerable, the champion for climate justice.

During the Philippine Chairmanship of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, we fought for a climate goal that limits global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius and calls for ambitious and immediate reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that would minimize climate and disaster risks, enable adaptation, and ensure sustainable development.

Our country also championed the mainstreaming of gender equality and the rights of indigenous peoples, migrants, and children in climate policies; the use of comprehensive risk assessment in addressing further loss and damage; and the provision of grant-based financing for developing countries for climate change adaptation and mitigation measures.

These are all embedded in the Paris Agreement.

Second, the Paris Agreement is a manifesto for climate justice.

In pursuit of the international law principle of “common but differentiated responsibilities” used in climate negotiations, commitments to reduce emissions from all countries must be equitable and just. The industrialized countries—those that have contributed the most to global warming—must lead and shoulder the far greater burden of acting faster, sooner, and with far greater accountability to our environment.

Third, acceding to the Paris Agreement allows our country access to international climate finance mechanisms and to acquire support from developed countries for adaptation, mitigation, technology development and transfer, and capacity building.

These could help finance the development and roll out of our early warning systems, comprehensive risk assessment and management tools, and other capacity-building projects and programs that would make our communities more resilient to climate change.

Fourth, acceding to the Paris Agreement strengthens our country’s role in climate talks.

We will not be mere observers. We will exercise governance, oversight, leadership, and decision-making in the implementation of the Agreement, and continue to be a strong actor in advancing our country’s interests as the voice of the vulnerable in international climate negotiations.

And fifth, the Paris Agreement is an embodiment of a legacy. Committing to the Paris Agreement will go down in history as one of our shining achievements.

The 17th Congress can be regarded as the legislative assembly that championed climate action, environmental protection, and sustainable development.

The 17th Congress, under the Duterte Administration, will be remembered for paving the way for green jobs and green growth for the Filipino nation.

Thank you very much, Mr. President.