CURRENT SOCIETAL CONCERNS
Elpidio V. Peria
30 November 2016
from :IPCC presentation at UNFCCC COP 20 Lima High-Level Segment
The Philippine national NGO advocacy network on climate change Aksyon Klima Pilipinas held yesterday its feedback session at the University Hotel inside UP Diliman Campus, in Quezon City and the members of the network who went to Marrakech, Morocco shared their updates and their thoughts on the recently concluded 22nd meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) held from 4 to 18 November 2016.
One of the key items taken up in the feedback session concerned the question raised by Isagani Serrano of Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), who asked whether there was an implementation plan agreed upon at Marrakech to determine which countries will be allowed how much carbon to emit in gigatons from the global carbon budget, beyond which the world will cross the global temperature threshold and there could be catastrophic climate change.
Serrano is referring to a study done by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2013, which estimated that the world has only around 1000 gigatons of carbon budget left in the atmosphere. The implementation plan that should have been tackled in the COP22 Climate Change Conference, Serrano elaborated, is how would the global carbon budget be apportioned to the countries of the world and would the big carbon emitters, like the US, be held to a certain limit, so that other countries would be able to still develop and industrialize, similar to what President Duterte said that he wants the Philippines to achieve. Serrano also asked if the nationally-determined contributions, like the one the US has come up with, can be interfered with by the UNFCCC such that the US can be made to even undertake negative emissions, as in take back the carbon emissions it has released to the atmosphere, through whatever means possible, so that the world will not breach the global carbon budget.
The Aksyon Klima members who went to Marrakesh, who were accredited to be part of the Philippine delegation, namely Mayette Rodriguez, of NGOs for Fisheries Reform, Melvin Purzuelo of Responsible Ilonggos for Sustainable Energy and also the network’s current National Coordinator, Ping Peria of BITS Policy Center, Gia Ibay of World Wildlife Fund-Philippines and Shubert Ciencia, of Oxfam, mainly gave the over-all sense that the Marrakech meeting did not come up with such a plan, but the Conference made decisions relating to processes and modalities on mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, finance and technology transfer, among others, including a process to clarify the rulebook of the Paris Agreement, this rulebook may be the mechanism on which all those nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement will be reviewed, though there was also no clear resolution on what the registry of NDC will contain, whether it all be about mitigation commitments only, or will include commitments involving climate change adaptation, technology development and transfer, capacity building, etc..
Further discussions moved to what the Philippines may wish to do, like in agriculture, should the Philippines let it carry part of the burden in reducing Philippine greenhouse gas emissions, since, rice paddies, of which the Philippines has a lot, is a significant emitter of methane and other greenhouse gases, Neth Daño of ETCGroup asked.
Shubert Ciencia said that based on what he has known of the stance of the Philippine Department of Agriculture on the issue from several UNFCCC negotiations, the Philippines will aim for a climate-resilient agriculture, that will emphasize climate change adaptation with mitigation co-benefits.
As per consultations with a Filipino IPCC expert on agriculture, Dr. Leandro Buendia, Neth Daño said that making rice paddies a key platform to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions will not reduce our greenhouse gas emissions significantly, thus we may have to look at other sectors with which to reduce our emissions and it seems even current DA officials will not want to use the agricultural sector to undertake the mitigation efforts that the Philippines will have to do.
Isagani Serrano suggested we should have a sustainable development framework in our over-all developmental stance such that we will push for sustainable fisheries, sustainable forestry and sustainable agriculture, that’s the only way we can develop as a country and meet our carbon budget limits. Serrano said that we owe it to ourselves to grow cleanly now rather than to grow now and clean up later, which is proving to be difficult as what China and South Korea is finding out.
Another question was asked by Serrano : can corporations, like the Carbon Majors, these are big multinational corporations that extracted and burned the fossil fuels that have contributed to industrial emissions of the world for the past 150 years, be held responsible for environmental crimes, perhaps other arenas of the UN system, like the UN Human Rights Council, and its associated processes, may be able to hold accountable these corporations.
Ping Peria said that the doctrine of state responsibility in international law is not as well developed at this stage to hold liable these multinational corporations, but the mention of human rights in the preambular paragraph of Paris Agreement may be linked up later to whatever efforts of the human rights bodies in the UN system and once work in that arena gets too advanced for comfort, perhaps that is the time there will be consensus to water down those proposals by allowing it by then to be dealt with inside the UNFCCC or the Paris Agreement.
In the end, Serrano put forward some ways to deal with our challenges relating to energy, we should respect existing contracts but for those new investments in energy, they should only be renewable energy and we may be able to develop and expand our renewable energy portfolio including energy efficiency such that we may be buy out those coal-fired power plants later, though the question remains, how far can the Philippines terminate these contracts in a manner that will not impede our future development prospects?
In the end, in a nod to the young members of Aksyon Klima who may have become skeptics of these international conferences and meetings, Serrano said that it may seem that these international conferences don’t appear to matter much as they are all about talk about processes and targets, but learn from them and understand them, since it only makes clear that there are a lot of things that we still need to do and understand, to really make change or sustainable development, happen.