COPENHAGEN?The two-week United Nations climate talks might have ended in great disappointment here and around the world, but the Group of 77 developing nations, including the Philippines, is already gearing for a rematch in November with the United States-led West.
Sen. Loren Legarda and former Sen. Heherson Alvarez, the Philippines? chief climate negotiator, said the G-77 would take the battle to force rich nations to set binding emission cuts to Mexico, the host of next year?s climate talks?COP16 or Conference of Parties.
"Whether there is a deal or not, Copenhagen is not the endgame," said Legarda, the UN ambassador for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.
?It's better than nothing,? she said when she left Bella Center, the venue of the COP15 summit of 119 heads of state and government, who were still debating the so-called "Copenhagen Accord? agreed on by the United States, China, South Africa and India.
The proposed deal is nonbinding and sets no overall target for curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
"America bought time," Alvarez said, explaining that US President Barack Obama could not pledge too much without a mandate from the US Senate, which has yet to enact a climate legislation forwarded by the US House of Representatives.
Legarda remained optimistic that a deal to cut heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere was possible.
In an interview with the Inquirer before she left for Manila early Saturday, the senator cited the continuing dialogue until 2012, the expiration of the Kyoto Protocol which set binding emission targets in 1994 that have so far been unattained.
?So we have two more years. But we don't have to wait for two more years. It is imperative that each nation craft its own legislation and embark on its own national policies to implement climate legislation and environmental laws,? she said, adding: "To be effective, the post-2012 agreement must be underpinned by domestic legislation in all countries. In that context we recognize the critical role of legislators in developing and passing legislation, ratifying a post-2012 agreement, and holding governments to account for commitments made."
Legarda said a post-2012 agreement would not be effective unless ?it is ratified by the major economies, backed by national legislation, and governments are held to account for the commitments and actions put forward."
"Legislators are responsible for all three,? she said.
A formal recognition of the importance of legislating climate change response will energize legislators, Legarda said, echoing the position of leaders of the InterParliamentary Union during a meeting here on Wednesday at the Danish parliament.
?What the Philippines and other vulnerable nations have proven in Copenhagen is that we have a voice, and we are listened to no matter how small, heavily populated, vulnerable, and in need of help," she said.
But she pointed out that global warming "is not of our own doing."
"We are just seeking climate justice; we are not asking for alms,? she said.
Alvarez said the proposed deal tabled by the United States was not a treaty, and did not set emission targets.
It dismayed environmental activists, particularly those from G-77 nations which are more vulnerable to the catastrophic effects of a warming planet.
The Copenhagen Accord adheres to the continuation of the Kyoto Protocol and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
It sets an average global temperature rise at a maximum of two degrees Celsius, and states that a review by 2016 should consider whether it will be necessary to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
On financing, the accord says developed countries should commit collectively to providing $30 billion in new, additional funding for developing countries for the 2010-2012 period.
It also calls on developed countries to support ?a goal of mobilizing jointly $100 billion a year? by 2020 from a variety of sources.
?It's a political commitment,? Alvarez said in explaining to the Inquirer that the substance of the text, particularly on the proposed adaptation fund, was welcome.
He said the Copenhagen Accord was a ?political interim deal,? but not yet legally binding. ?It's a politically binding deal because of commitments [for the fund].?
Asked if he could consider it a success for poor nations, Alvarez said: ?I consider it a very fruitful undertaking of all the parties because they're committed to a legally binding deal instead of leaving the negotiating table with no commitments. Here, the commitments are very clear? because the funds are there.?
Legarda said nations, whether rich or poor, must ?voluntarily? cut their greenhouse gas emissions to rein in the fast-rising global temperature.
?And for those who don't need to mitigate because they are already non-emitters?like the Philippines, Maldives and other vulnerable nations?they can embark on adaptation measures, which are doable within the limits of our budget. And at the same time, we can make our respective countries' receptive or attractive to green technology and investments,? she said.
Legarda expressed hope that the Copenhagen deal would be legally binding.
?But we are a community of nations who are responsible leaders of the world. Legalities are only secondary to our responsibilities as leaders. It all boils down to the kind of life we're going to live, the quality of air we're going to breathe, the kind of food we're going to eat, if at all, the water we're going to drink, and the kind of health we're going to have,? she said.
She added that international, national and local leaders, as well as families, should embark on their own green measures to improve the planet.
?Copenhagen is a milestone, is a big step. If we don't cap or end it with a good, legally binding agreement, then there are many other negotiations...? Legarda said.