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‘Cutting emissions will not stifle growth’ — UN secretary general

/ 08:37 AM November 16, 2017

In this Jan. 20, 2015, file photo, a plume of steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, New Hampshire.  AP FILE

BONN, Germany — United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said reducing carbon emissions would not be detrimental to economic growth.

Speaking at the plenary of high-level climate talks here, Guterres cited the examples of China and India, which have posted economic growth while leading the transition to renewable energy.

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He then called on world leaders to take on the ‘mantle of climate leadership’ by considering the adverse effects of climate change when deciding on infrastructure projects that might be highly polluting.

“If big infrastructure projects are not ‘green,’ they should not be given the green light,” he said.

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Climate negotiators are currently in talks to create the road map for the implementation of the Paris Agreement, a landmark climate pact signed by 195 countries to limit rising global temperatures well below 2˚C by dramatically reducing carbon emissions.

Duterte’s initial refusal of the Paris Agreement

President Rodrigo Duterte refused to sign the treaty in 2016, saying that the agreement was unfair to developing countries which must use massive energy, mostly from fossil fuel, to facilitate industrialization.

“You are trying to stifle us… You who have reached your peak and along with it spewed a lot of contaminants, emissions … Good for you. We have not reached the age of industrialization. We are on our way to it,” he said.

Duterte eventually signed the agreement in March this year.

Ratification of the agreement gives the Philippines access to the Green Climate Fund, a financial mechanism of the UN that seeks to support projects in developing countries for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, climate resilient infrastructures and adaptation projects.

‘Atmospheric space’

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“There is a scientific assessment that climate change was caused by the accumulated emissions of developed countries,” Bernarditas Muller, veteran negotiator for the Philippines, said during an interview.

She reiterated that developing countries, such as the Philippines, should be given the ‘atmospheric space’ to develop and not be pressured to further reduce emissions.

The Philippines is an insignificant emitter, accounting for less than 1% of global carbon emissions.

‘Renewable energy: Not akin to brake pedals of PH economic development’

“Confronting climate change by abandoning dirty energy is not akin to stepping on the brake pedals of our economic development,” Yeb Saño, executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said.

The Philippines still depends heavily on fossil fuel, particularly coal. In its 2016 Energy Mix, coal accounts for 48% of its energy, according to a report by the Department of Energy.

While many Western and Asian countries are veering away from fossil fuel dependence, the Philippine government approved the construction of at least 25 coal-fired plants in the coming years.

“Pursuing development does not have to rely on the outmoded fossil fuel apparatus,” Saño added. /cbb

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TAGS: Antonio Guterres, Bonn, Carbon emissions, Climate Change, climate talks, development, Economic Growth, fossil fuel, Germany, Green Climate Fund, news, Paris agreement, UN
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