LE BOURGET, France -- With climate talks in France reaching the “difficult stage,” the draft negotiating text up for plenary presentation Friday was released as Filipino youth issued a demand for a “strong” agreement to arrest climate change.
The 50-page draft released Thursday by the Ad Hoc Working Group on Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, which functions as a platform to synergize discussions, is still heavily bracketed, meaning essential points are still being debated by negotiators from parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Nongovernmental institutions like the World Wildlife Fund are not pleased with the current draft, describing it as “unchanged” from what the negotiators were working on going into Paris.
In a statement released to the media, WWF head of delegation Tasneem Essop, said: “Clearly, finding all the solutions to protect the world from the ravages of climate change is going to take hard negotiations and multiple drafts. We’re still early in the process, but negotiators have a lot of work to do if they’re going to turn this draft negotiating text into an ambitious and fair agreement. Overall, the text is mostly unchanged from what they were working with going into Paris.
“Negotiators have pulled together a text that has the core elements of the kind of agreement that heads of state said they wanted to see in their scene-setting speeches earlier this week. The changes so far are a mixed bag,” Essop added.
Filipino youth’s demand
The Filipino Youth Statement on Climate Change, transmitted to the UNFCCC Secretariat Thursday, was formulated during a series of regional consultations and workshops in the country through the Road to Paris campaign of the Climate Reality Project.
It calls for a “global goal to phase-out fossil fuels by 2050 and limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius and form as well as strengthen existing mechanisms on adaptation, loss and damage, technology transfer and finance to help climate vulnerable countries such as the Philippines.”
“We held workshops and consultations across the country explaining not only the basics of climate change, but the basics of climate policy and the negotiation process as well. Emulating the negotiations, the youth leaders were given time to meet with their groups to lobby for matters they thought most urgent,” said Rodne Galicha, Philippine manager of the CRP, a global movement founded by Nobel laureate and former US vice president Al Gore.
“Filipinos are now feeling the impacts of climate change. But it will be our children and grandchildren who will feel it more as global warming increases. We need to have a strong agreement today and lay a strong foundation of a better future,” Micheline Rama, campaigns director of Dakila, said.
“The Filipino youth is a catalyst of change. We have seen the power of young Filipinos in the course of our history. We are now at a point where we are once again called to make a difference, and we will choose to make a difference for our generation and the generations to come,” Rama added.
Antonio La Viña, spokesperson for the Philippine delegation and one of the negotiators at the Conference of Parties 21, said the talks have entered “the stage where you bridge proposals so as to avoid deadlocks. We seemed to have a slow progress with minimal changes in the document. We entered the negotiations with a 55-page text and today, we were able to limit it to 50 pages after four days.”
But La Viña assured that the Philippine delegation is committed to stick to the principles and to serve as a bridge to various proposals from different parties ahead of the ministerial presentation on Saturday.
“We need to have breakthroughs if we want to have agreement next week,” La Viña said.
Dedicated to youth
The fourth day of COP 21 has been dedicated to the “Youth and Future Generations,” giving an “urgency” to the talks, Ahmed Alhendawi, the UN secretary general’s Envoy on Youth and Youth Leaders, said.
“We have seen young people coming together to send a strong call to action to save our planet. What’s at stake today is the future. We need to reach this agreement and we need it to be ambitious,” Alhendawi said.
Right before COP 21, the 11th Conference of Youth was held, bringing together 1,500 young people from all over the world to share their experiences in finding solutions to climate change and engaging in different activities in their countries related to climate action.
COP 21 must not fail youth
At the inter-genarational inquiry hosted earlier, UNFCCC executive secretary Christiana Figueres and Alhendawi celebrated young people and recognized the role they play at COP 21.
Figueres reminded the youth to make sure they are at the center of climate action. “Make sure that the stories you tell have you at the center. I want you tell stories to your grandchildren not only that you were in the COP but what you did in the COP,” she said.
Alhendawi, for his part, said young people’s presence at the COP is a reminder to negotiators of the urgency of the issue. “We are here at a crossroad, and failure is not an option. Tell negotiators that they cannot afford to fail this generation and future generations. We must, we can, and we will put this planet on the path of sustainability,” he said.
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez of Earth Guardians also spoke at the event, making a strong statement on the importance of ambitious actions today.
“Never before have we seen an issue as unifying as climate change. This is about my survival, my future. Each and every one of us has the power to make decisions to change to world in the future. All eyes (are) on us right now. The decisions we make today will affect generations to come. Let’s build a world we are proud to pass on to future generations,” he said.
By Jed Alegado and Renee Julienne Karunungan
December 04, 2015