Philippines and France, climate change allies

March 3, 2015

In the same forum, Senator Loren Legarda, veteran champion of the environment and our most prominent advocate of addressing climate change and disasters, articulated what was at stake in this first ever-state visit of a French President to our country. She pointed out the consequences of climate change: “extremely harsh weather events, flooding, declining fish catch, water scarcity, declining agricultural harvests, exacerbating health issues, extinction of animal and plant species, displacement of people, and even the demise of low-lying areas, among others.”

Senator Legarda also cited how the Philippines is at the top of the list of the Global Climate Risk Index of 2015 – which lists those countries most severely affected by weather-related disasters like storms, floods, and heat waves. She was also clear about what needs to be done globally, imploring the world’s largest economies to deliver their concrete commitments on greenhouse gas emission reductions. According to her: “This is not the time for restraint or for wagging the finger of indictment. This is the moment for collective action.”

In their joint statement entitled the Manila Call for Climate Action, read by Senator Legarda and Marion Cotillard – the Oscar Award-winning French actress who was also in Hollande’s delegation — Presidents Aquino and Hollande made a strong appeal: “Less than a year ahead of the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) which will take place in Paris in December 2015, the outcome of which will affect the lives of billions of people, we call upon the international community to conclude a universal, equitable and ambitious climate deal, in line with the specific recommendations set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to preserve our planet as a livable place for future generations. From Manila today, we hope to make history together in Paris in December and not simply watch history unfold.”

In the Manila Call for Action, the link between the Philippines and climate change is emphasized: “As we meet in the Philippines, where people have endured an unprecedented series of extreme weather events in the last few years, we are reminded that while the developing countries have contributed least to climate change, they are the ones that suffer the most from climate change impacts. While we face similar threats and shared vulnerabilities, we have also varying strengths and capacities to address these challenges. However, we believe that our vulnerabilities and exposure to climate-induced hazards can be reduced. In the face of these, the people of the Philippines have shown extraordinary resilience.”

Finally, the joint statement of France and the Philippines, which I think the Philippine delegation should now consider its instructions for the year long climate change negotiations, called for climate solidarity and justice, and climate cooperation in the form of financial and technical solidarity.

It is fitting that President Hollande ended his historic trip to the Philippines in Guiaun, Samar, ground zero of Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan. In that town, visited for the first time by a foreign head of state, Hollande complimented our countrymen: “I want to come here all the way from France to your place, Guiaun, to show to the entire world… how brave you are, how strong you are and how resilient you are.” There too, Hollande promised: “The world will act for you … we want success in Paris.’

For me, a good climate agreement is one with ambitious mitigation and adaptation goals backed up by adequate means of implementation, recognizes the link between climate change and human rights, and establishes climate justice and accountability mechanisms. With the Philippines and France working together, how can we fail?

Source: Manila Standard Today