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PH on “clean” climate text: ‘Option 1 not an option for us’

/ 01:09 PM December 10, 2015

De Guzman with clean text

Sec. Emmanuel de Guzman (center, with document in hand) presents the “clean” text of the draft Paris agreement on climate change to the Philippine delegation and to members of Philippine civil society and media. JN

PARIS—In the first of the “midnight sessions” convened by the French hosts of the climate change negotiations in this city, the Philippine delegation welcomed the “clean” draft of the proposed Paris agreement as a major step forward.

“The Philippines associates itself with the statement of South Africa, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China. We welcome your proposed text and can work on it even as we acknowledge the several gaps and that much can still be improved,” said Sec. Emmanuel de Guzman, head of the delegation.

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The G77/China group, of which the Philippines is a part, is the largest negotiating bloc in the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Its South African representative had noted remaining concerns in the new draft, but said — to applause — that it was acceptable as a good basis for continuing the negotiations.

De Guzman staked out the Philippine position, starting with the global temperature target.

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“First, the Philippines, as chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, supports option 3 in Article 2, but we are willing to work and explore other options as long as ‘below 1.5’ is referenced.

“We agree with many of our colleagues that option 1 is not an option for us. We cannot go back to Manila with such a weak text that condemns many of our people to hardship, even death.

“We cannot in good conscience be party to a decision that constrains our survival and implies mass violations of human rights when there was an option to do otherwise.

“By necessity, that means we also require an agreement that makes the under 1.5 temperature goal possible, with a mitigation goal that ensures full decarbonization by 2050, and an ambition mechanism that ensures immediate ramping up of INDCs.”

Under Article 2, the section on purpose, the language on the proposed cap on the rise in global temperatures had previously limited the choices to “below 1.5 degrees” Celsius and “well below 2 degrees.” The clean text of the proposed Paris agreement expanded the range of options to “hold the increase in global average temperature” to three choices:

“Option 1: below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels,

“Option 2: well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels [and to [rapidly] scale up global efforts to limit temperature increase to below 1.5 °C] [,while recognizing that in some regions and vulnerable ecosystems high risks are projected even for warming above 1.5 °C],

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“Option 3: below 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels,

“taking into account the best available science, equity, sustainable development, the need to ensure food security and the availability of means of implementation, by ensuring deep reductions in global greenhouse gas [net] emissions.”

In the climate negotiations, a great difference separates “below 2,” which the Philippines and other members of the Climate Vulnerable Forum cannot accept, and “well below 2”—which can be understood to mean as low as 1.5 degrees. The movement to commit to a “high ambition” target of 1.5 had gained unexpected momentum in COP21; at last count, at least 112 countries have thrown their support behind it.

In the race to reach agreement on a universal and legally binding deal to curb heat-trapping gas emissions, negotiators at the climate change talks here have started working into the wee hours. The last meetings of December 9 ended at around 4 am on December 10 — 11 am in Manila. Sessions will resume in a few hours.

De Guzman’s full statement, released by negotiator and delegation spokesperson Dean Antonio La Viña of the Ateneo School of Government, reads as follows:

“The Philippines associates itself with the statement of South Africa, speaking on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.

“We welcome your proposed text and can work on it even as we acknowledge the several gaps and that much can still be improved.

“I will be straightforward with our remarks on the text:

“First, the Philippines, as chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, supports option 3 in Article 2, but we are willing to work and explore other options as long as ‘below 1.5’ is referenced.

“We agree with many of our colleagues that option 1 is not an option for us. We cannot go back to Manila with such a weak text that condemns many of our people to hardship, even death.

“We cannot in good conscience be party to a decision that constrains our survival and implies mass violations of human rights when there was an option to do otherwise.

“By necessity, that means we also require an agreement that makes the under 1.5 temperature goal possible, with a mitigation goal that ensures full decarbonization by 2050, and an ambition mechanism that ensures immediate ramping up of INDCs.

“Second, we also would like to have good and strong language on human rights, including rights of women and indigenous peoples, and ecosystems integrity. A reference to these in the preamble is not sufficient for us; we need to have these references in the operative text such as in the current Article 2.2.For the Philippines, “Ecosystems integrity” is important. The current language, excludes other important ecosystems, like freshwater ecosystems.

“Perhaps we can include the phrase “and other ecosystems” to ensure we capture all ecosystems. Also, paragraph 11 has to include a stronger language; not simply “Noting” but rather “Ensuring” ecosystems integrity.

“Third, we will continue to work with our colleagues on adaptation, finance, technology transfer, and capacity building.

“On adaptation finance, we want to emphasize strongly the need for adaptation finance, pre and post 2020. We need quantitative goals for that.

“On capacity building, beyond the creation of institutions, we want to emphasize the importance of providing urgent and adequate support to developing country Parties for nationally-determined, country-driven capacity development needs, actions, and priorities.It is for this reason that we regret the loss of reference to finance for technology development and capacity building previously in Article 6.12.

“We hope we can restore these references.

“Fourth, on Loss and Damage, evolving and strengthening the Warsaw Greenpeace International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM LD) associated with Climate Change Impacts is vitally important to the Philippines, as this would ensure that our people will survive and thrive. In this regard, the Warsaw International Mechanism-Plus (WIM-Plus) must be institutionalized, strengthened and given an operational role in the Agreement to guarantee this. Furthermore, it is essential that the approaches to address Loss and Damage ensure the recovery, restoration and resilience of communities, livelihoods and ecosystems adversely affected by slow-onset events, extreme weather events, and other climate change impacts.

Loss and Damage is more than solely risk transfer, although the creation of a Climate Risk Pooling Mechanism to distribute economic and financial risks is a welcome development for the Philippines.

“Mr. President, the Philippines thanks and commends you for the transparency and inclusiveness with which you have run this process. Please continue this way of working. But for the next stage, under your active leadership and guidance, you may wish to allow us to engage with each other, to actually work on the text together, and find solutions together, rather than wait for you to come back with a new proposal.”

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TAGS: 21st Conference of Parties, Climate Change, Climate Change Commission, COP21, dateline paris, Emmanuel de Guzman, Paris climate change talks, UNFCCC
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