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Legarda: US Pullout From Paris Agreement Poses New Climate Challenge

June 5, 2017

On World Environment Day (June 5), Senator Loren Legarda urged stronger cooperation among nations and individuals to address environmental concerns, stressing that greater challenges are expected especially with US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committees on Climate Change, Finance and Foreign Relations, said that the decision of Mr. Trump to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement is a grave mistake.

“By this withdrawal, the United States has turned its back on the future. It puts a spotlight on a belligerent leadership that refuses to heed the voices of people, including his own, who are gravely threatened by the perils of climate change and global warming,” she stressed.

“Today, we celebrate World Environment Day with the theme ‘Connecting People to Nature’, and it is ironic that there are people, leaders like Mr. Trump, who are disconnected with nature, disconnected with the reality that climate change not only endangers the future but is actually a threat to our survival now,” said Legarda.

The Senator said it is appalling that there are still climate deniers even with the evident effects of climate change already happening all over the world.

She said that sea level rise as a result of global warming is threatening to submerge small island nations like Kiribati, Marshall Islands and the Maldives. Around 20 percent of the global population, or approximately 1.3 billion people, live in areas that may be directly affected by sea level rise. In the Philippines, at risk are 64 coastal provinces, 822 coastal municipalities, 25 major coastal cities and approximately 13.6 million Filipinos that need to be relocated away from danger zones.

Legarda said that ocean acidification is causing irreversible damage to coral reefs. With global warming of up to 2 degrees Celsius, 98 percent of coral reefs will die by 2050. A World Bank study shows that this would cause decrease in marine fish capture by about 50 percent in the southern Philippines by the year 2050.

Moreover, sudden shifts from hot temperatures to incessant rains pose uncertainties to agriculture. Extreme rainfall and heat, heavy floods, and constant changes in weather pose great threat to lives, health, livelihood and development.

“Extreme weather events have brought so much destruction and claimed so many lives already. In the Philippines, we have experienced the wrath of typhoons Frank, Ondoy, Sendong, Pablo and Yolanda, among many others,” Legarda said.

In 2009, Metro Manila came to a standstill after almost every city in the metropolis experienced flooding at record-breaking levels brought by Ondoy. In 2013, Yolanda decimated entire towns in the Visayas killing more than 6,000 people. In 2016, farmers in Kidapawan City staged a protest as the climate-related drought affected the lives and livelihood of their farming communities. The bloody dispersal that ensued claimed the lives of at least two farmers and wounded more than a hundred.

Legarda said even a powerful nation, the United States, has taken the wrath of hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005 was one of the most devastating disasters that hit the US; while in 2012, Hurricane Sandy affected 24 states and the storm surge it caused flooded even the streets of New York, cutting power in and around the city.

“Climate change knows no boundaries. It affects us all. It will make the poor poorer, create more climate refugees, and greatly affect the vulnerable—children, women, elderly, persons with disabilities, and indigenous peoples,” she stressed.

“The United States’ pullout from the Paris Agreement poses a new climate challenge, but a single voice, guided by a misplaced understanding of the causes of one greatest risk that faces the world today, will ultimately be drowned out by the more passionate voices of people who genuinely care for our future. If there is a silver lining following this announcement from Mr. Trump, it is the re-affirmation issued by other responsible leaders on their commitment to keep fighting against global warming. We applaud this honorable gesture,” said Legarda.

“As one of the countries facing the gravest risks posed by climate change and global warming, the Philippines will continue to stand by its courageous partners from the international community in delivering our commitments and speeding up action to combat climate change,” Legarda concluded.