September 24, 2020 Thursday

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte virtually addresses the general debate of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), on September 22, 2020, in New York. This is the first time that President Duterte addressed the UNGA and has called on the parties of the Paris Agreement to exhibit urgency in fighting climate change. 

Before fellow world leaders at the 75th United Nations General Assembly, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte called for all to act on the climate crisis with urgency as one united community under the Paris Agreement.

The President stated:

The same urgency needed to fight COVID-19 is needed to address the climate crisis. This is a global challenge that has worsened existing inequalities and vulnerabilities from within and between nations.

Climate change has worsened the ravages of the pandemic.

Peoples in developing countries like the Philippines suffer the most. We cannot afford to suffer more.

The Philippines joined the Paris Agreement to fight climate change. We call on all parties, especially those who have not made good their commitment to fight climate change, to honor the same.

We call on all parties to strengthen communities and peoples for preparedness and resilience. We are talking about mankind and Earth, our one and only home.

To this end, we underscore the need for climate action to shape our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Global and national economic stimulus packages must channel massive investments in renewable energy, sustainable mobility and transportation systems, ecosystems-based adaptation measures, and green and climate-resilient infrastructure.

Keeping to the commitments in the Paris Agreement will allow the world to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The 1.5°C temperature goal is a threshold of chance and hope for developing countries like the Philippines. If we breach it, we lose countless lives and bring immeasurable suffering, especially to the poor and vulnerable. Honoring the 1.5°C goal is to raise global ambition and accelerate action that would enable better support to build resilience for developing countries. It is to bring climate justice to the fore. 

We call on our leaders to heed science and let it inform the country’s national and local development plans to ensure strong risk governance and sustainable development at all levels. This must go hand-in-hand with the full implementation of our environmental and climate change laws.

We urge our policymakers to create an enabling environment that would decouple economic growth from the endless extraction and misuse of natural resources, including the development of policies that will drive innovations in energy, transportation, and manufacturing systems.

Lastly, we call for greater cooperation and action on the finalization of the country’s First Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). The sooner we submit our NDC, the sooner we can unlock new sources of climate finance that will enable us to advance rapidly the implementation of climate change adaptation and mitigation programs in our communities.

May the President’s leadership resolve inspire all of us to increase the intensity and depth, and the breadth and impact, of our climate actions to make our development sustainable and our societies resilient.