Civil society welcomes DENR’s progressive statements in 2016 Climate Talks

Civil society organizations and environmental groups lauded Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez for issuing progressive demands in the high-level segment of the 2016 Climate Talks held in Marrakesh, Morocco.

Lopez urged world leaders who attended the annual Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) to pursue ‘precise’ mechanisms in achieving the aspirational target of 1.5 degree Celsius global average temperature.
“The situation is clear,” said Lopez. “Anything more than 1.5 degrees will destroy possibilities for quality of life.”

Sanlakas Secretary General Atty. Aaron Pedrosa stated that such pronouncements from the Philippines, one of the most vulnerable countries when it comes to climate-induced disasters, are necessary as the current Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by countries are insufficient to achieve the 1.5 degree target.

“The statement of Sec. Lopez against the ‘indecisive ambiguity’ of the Paris Agreement is welcomed as at present, the aggregated contributions of countries across the globe are set to increase global temperature to 3 to 6 degrees Celsius,” said Pedrosa. “Precise mechanisms for measuring action and accountability are needed considering that a 2-degree warming is already unacceptable for the Philippines, which already suffered unspeakable devastation from Yolanda in a 0.8 degree world, current commitments are nothing less than a death sentence,” he added.

US, EU and rich countries must pay

Echoing a previous statement made by President Rodrigo Duterte, Pedrosa reiterated that “rich, developed countries must be the first to foot the bill.”

Pedrosa in particular blasted developed countries who fail to reflect their historical climate responsibility in their NDCs. “While most developing countries, including the Philippines and even China, have gone above and beyond what is required from them in their NDCs, countries which have prospered for centuries at the expense of the environment and climate refuse to take responsbility by leading decarbonization and leading climate finance,” he said.

Pedrosa, who heads the Energy Working Group of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ), pointed out that scientifically, in order to achieve the 1.5 degree target, it is not enough for industrialized countries like the US and UK to completely abandon dirty fuel sources like coal.

“Part of their responsibility is to provide compensation to developing countries, in the form of support for adaptation and mitigation efforts, as well as technology for us to quickly decarbonize as well,” he stated.

Coal will doom the climate, groups say
Green Thumb Coalition (GTC) Convenor and Center for Energy, Ecology and Development (CEED) Head Convenor Gerry Arances lauded Sec. Lopez for emphasizing what the Philippines has to lose with the status quo.

“Our biodiversity, our livelihood and the survival of our families and future generations are indeed at stake,” said Arances. “Which is why we need a deal which drastically changes the playing field in order to realize the 1.5 degree target,” he stated.

Arances said that at present, while investments on coal – one of the leading sources of carbon emissions – are declining globally, coal investors who aim to expand and construct new coal projects have their eyes on the Southeast Asian region.

“In the Philippines alone, there are 41 existing boiler units of coal-fired power plants (CFPPs) with 69 more in the pipeline.,” said Arances. “This is despite the fact that coal is increasingly becoming stranded assets, meaning that as risks drive coal technology to be abandoned, citizens would have to pay more to keep proposed coal plants running for the next two decades,” he added.

Arances pointed out that without divestment from coal, the ambitious targets and the actions the Philippines committed to will mean nothing. “Despite the progressive statement of the DENR Secretary on ambitious actions, here in our own backyard, the Department of Energt is encouraging even more coal investments,” he emphasized.

“Dirty, deadly and costly fuel sources like coal will cost us our climate and survival. Either we end it or it ends us,” said Arances. Arances instead encouraged the Duterte administration to pursue a coherent policy on energy, development and the environment.

“Tapping into our vast renewable energy potential, amounting to more than 250,000 MW, is enough to drive sustainable development,” Arances said. “The state of the climate and the dangers, costs and risks posed by dirty energy leads us to do one thing, and that is to create a more sustainable, clean energy system to secure survival and development for us and the future generations,” he concluded.