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DENR’s Paje to deliver PH statement at Paris Agreement signing

April 21, 2016

NEW YORK — Philippine Senator Loren Legarda, United Nations Global Champion for Resilience, addressed members of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) in a meeting at the UN Headquarters Wednesday, April 20.

Two days ahead of the High-Level Signing Ceremony for the Paris Agreement in New York, Legarda said that CVF member states must unite in ensuring the early entry into force of the Agreement. Legarda is also co-Head of the Philippine Delegation along with Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje.

“Two days from now, representatives of nations will assemble to take us closer to delivering meaningful action on climate change. Our advocacies will not stop in New York; but rather, our efforts will need to ramp up as we strive to achieve the ratification by at least 55 countries representing 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions. It is only then that the Paris Agreement will enter into force,” she said.

President Aquino issued a special authority designating and authorizing Secretary Paje to sign for and behalf of the Republic of the Philippines the Paris Agreement.

According to Paje, the formal signing of the U.N. climate deal is a victory for the Philippines having been an active player in the seven-year effort to get the world to act on climate change.

“The irony of being among the countries most extremely vulnerable to climate change despite having one of the smallest carbon footprints impelled us to be highly articulate and assertive on the global stage on the need for urgent action against climate change,” Paje said.

The Philippines was among the states that were most insistent on reaching a truly meaningful global compact to limit and reduce the global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Sen. Legarda explained that the Paris Agreement is vital because national actions will be driven by the countries’ ambitions and plans for carbon reduction.

“The historic Paris Agreement is very urgent for the world specially for a vulnerable nation like the Philippines considering the extreme weather impacts that happen in our country from Ondoy to Yolanda and the drought that’s happening as well,” Legarda told the Asian Journal. “We cannot afford delays in carrying out our commitments because the more we stall action, the faster we reach the dangerous 2 degrees Celsius mark,” Legarda added, stressing that CVF member states have already been experiencing the severe impacts of climate change even before warming exceeded the 1 degree Celsius mark above pre-industrial levels.

Climate Vulnerable Forum

The Philippines is the current Chair of the CVF, an international partnership of countries highly vulnerable to climate change. The Forum serves as a cooperation platform for participating governments to act together to deal with climate change. It currently has 43 member states.

The 20 nations that first joined the CVF have recorded, collectively, an average of more than 50,000 deaths per year since 2010, a number expected to increase exponentially by 2030; and have experienced escalating annual losses of at least 2.5% of our GDP potential per year, estimated at US$45 billion since 2010. This is expected to increase to close to US$400 billion in the next 20 years.

The Philippines is among the first 20 CVF Member States along with  Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Barbados, Bhutan, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Kiribati, Madagascar, Maldives, Nepal, Rwanda, Saint Lucia, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Vietnam

“The number of extremely hot days and hot nights has doubled in the last 50 years and extreme weather events have increased and have become more frequent, like typhoons with wind speeds that are around 10% stronger, as my country had experienced during Supertyphoon Haiyan,” Legarda added.

“I call on my fellow parliamentarians in the CVF and everyone who values life and our future — let us continue to rally our networks, organizations, and civil society in ensuring that our governments keep the promises they delivered in Paris,” said Legarda.

CVF members Fiji, Palau, Marshall Islands and Maldives were the first countries to ratify the Paris Agreement last year.

“The members of CVF are put in a unique leadership position in that our commitments and actions should inspire action from others, such as in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy deployment, and forest protection.”

Paris Agreement

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited leaders from all countries to attend a high-level signing ceremony on Friday, April 22 to accelerate climate action and to drive the political momentum towards ratification and early entry into force of the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement calls for the Agreement to be open for signature from  April 22, 2016 to April 21, 2017. April 22, which coincides with Earth Day, marks the first day that the Agreement will be open for signing by member states.

The Philippines will be represented in the signing by Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje.

Leaders from all over the world are expected to participate in the formal signing so there will be a “smooth finalization of the operational details” to accomplish provisions in the new climate change accord.

The Philippines had already submitted its first Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) which serves as the roadmap to actualize the country’s commitments to address climate change.

“Priority mitigation measures will cover 40 of the 70 percent total emission reduction which will include greater use of cleaner and renewable energy, improved mass transport services, more efficient waste management, reforestation and forest protection, and co-firing biomass,” Paje explained.

The INDCs are the submissions prepared by each country to help mitigate climate change, which was formally submitted before the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change last October.

Paje further stated that during the ceremony, the Philippines will manifest its intent to shift from the INDCs to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, to Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) which will be updated every five years.

The Philippines submitted a goal of 70 percent carbon emissions reduction by 2030 as its contribution to help combat climate change.

Paje, who also represented the Philippines during the high-level signing ceremony for the adoption of the U.N. climate deal in Paris, said the country is already taking steps to perform its commitments.

According to Paje, President Aquino has given the assurance that the country will continue to work with the U.N. and other countries against global warming for the benefit of climate vulnerable communities around the world.

The Secretary-General intends to use the occasion of the signing ceremony to further engage leaders from business and civil society to put the new agreement into action.

In Paris last year, the 196 parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change reached an historic agreement to combat climate change that will spur actions and investment towards a low-carbon, resilient and sustainable future. It is the first agreement that joins all nations in a common cause based on their historic, current and future responsibilities.

The main aim is to keep a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen capability to deal with the impacts of climate change.

To reach these ambitious and important goals, appropriate financial flows will be put in place, thus making stronger action by developing countries and the most vulnerable possible, in line with their own national objectives.

“Each nation has its own nationally determined commitments that will be implemented in various sectors – agriculture, energy, transport to cut down on their emissions. The Philippines, since we are not a major emitter in the world. We have many adaptation projects and programs to be determined by the national and local governments,” Legarda explained.

The Secretary-General thanked heads of state and government for their leadership in combating climate change.

“The adoption of the Paris Agreement caps a remarkable year of multilateral achievements for people and the planet,” he said. “It provides a solid foundation for the low-carbon, climate-resilient transformation of the global economy. This transformation will help secure a future that is safer, healthier and more prosperous for all.”

Source: Asian Journal