PARIS, France -- By the end of next week, the world will awake to news the Paris climate change summit has produced a new legally binding climate deal to avoid potentially catastrophic consequences. Or that it ended in failure.
If a climate deal is sealed, it will be a historic United Nations-backed agreement, after the 1992 agreement in Rio de Janeiro and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
But this early major challenges and deep, old rifts between rich and poor countries have reopened.
One of the sticky issues being negotiated by more than 190 nations is finding a way to share the burden of emissions cuts in an equitable manner, with the goal of keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.
Scientists have warned that climate change is one of the biggest threats of our time and should not be ignored, They point that the global average temperature has already risen by 1.4 degrees Celsius, resulting in rising seas, melting ice sheets, droughts and other extreme climate-related events.
The latest scientific report on climate change released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change underscores the need for urgent action, said Philippine climate change expert Rosa Perez.
“The science is clear. There is a need for countries to deal with climate policies and sustainable development as well as for rich countries to limit their carbon emissions,” Perez, who is also a contributing author of the IPCC report, said.
But wary of the devastating impacts of climate change, leaders from more than 40 vulnerable nations believe it is feasible to bring global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“It is a tough issue. The big players agreed on a 2 degrees Celsius cap, but the vulnerable countries along with a group of low-lying nations of the Alliance of Small Island States are calling for a Paris agreement that will limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees,” said Dean Antonio La Viña, spokesman of the Philippine delegation to the 21st Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
At the first day of the summit, the Climate Vulnerable Forum issued the so-called Manila-Paris Declaration in which it formally asked that targets be reviewed, arguing that the proposed two degrees is not enough to address climate change.
La Viña said the key is for many issues to be settled by the first week of the negotiations.
He added that Climate Change Commission Secretary Emmanuel de Guzman, the head of the Philippine delegation, gave clear instructions to the Philippine position apart from the below 1.5 degrees Celsius clamor.
These issues are: emphasis on human rights as a core principle for implementing a new agreement; a strong review on mitigation mechanism; finance, technology transfer ensuring adaptation with adequate finance; a mechanism on loss and damage anchored in the agreement that will allow small nations compensation for the devastating impacts of weather-related events.
“Although Secretary de Guzman told us to make sure that there must be some flexibility in mitigation measures, for instance, we have very clear priorities. In the end, we can see whether the Philippines achieved its goal at the climate talks,” La Viña said.
The Philippines is among the over 50 countries that pledged to reduce its carbon emissions.
The country targets to reduce emissions from transport, waste, forestry and industry by 70 percent by 2030.
La Viña stressed that this ambitious target is conditional and will be pursued if sufficient financial resources, technology development and transfer, and capacity building are provided by developed countries.
The CVF also asked developing countries to provide funding and fulfill the $100-billion Green Climate Fund per year by 2020. On the other hand, finance ministers from 20 vulnerable nations have set a target of mobilizing around $20 billion in new investments for climate action.
On the first day of the climate talks, President Benigno Aquino III highlighted the vulnerability of the Philippines to climate-related disasters such as super typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) and called for more cooperation among the most climate-affected countries to ensure the success of the Paris climate deal.
In the Philippines, we are getting better at adaptation, but we are still very affected when typhoons and storms strike. Economic losses due to disasters amount on average to 2.5 percent of our GDP but we contribute to less than 2 percent of global warming. We are calling for climate justice and more solidarity between countries but we are ready to do our part,” Aquino said.
By Imelda V. Abano
December 04, 2015