Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Salceda: Paris pact not good for developing countries
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, July 27, (PNA)--Albay Rep. Joey Salceda (2nd district) expressed support for President Rodrigo Duterte’s position “not to honor” the Paris agreement on climate change which was adopted by nearly 200 countries in December 2015 to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

This was the first public statement issued by Salceda against the Paris deal that came after the President’s position was made a few days prior to the latter’s first State of the Nation Address on July 25.

Salceda said the Paris deal was a bad agreement as it had shifted the burden of trimming emissions to developing countries like the Philippines.

The Bicol solon was formerly co-chairman of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). GCF, according to its website, is intended to be the main fund for global climate change under the guidance of the Conference of the (COP) to the convention.

According to Salceda, most of the Western-dominated world media had hailed the adoption of the Paris Agreement at the 21st session of the COP of the UNFCCC last December (COP21) but the few voices of dissent, most of them from developing countries such as the Philippines, were left “unheard and unheeded.”

He said responsible voices from both the developed and developing world were able to point out that the Paris deal, which was meant to replace the only legal instruments on climate change--the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol--”is still far from providing a viable solution to the increasingly urgent problem of climate change and its adverse effects.”

According to Reuters, in a news release on July 22, the new climate agreement hammered out in December aims to transform the world’s fossil-fuel driven economy within decades and slow the pace of temperature rise to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius. It said as of last month (June) 19 countries have ratified it but it will come into force only once 55 countries, representing at least 55 percent of the world’s total emissions, have ratified the deal.

Salceda said the December accord was essentially a compilation of pledges from all parties to the convention to limit emissions while at the same time serves as a review of all of these pledges.

He said “the purpose of the agreement is to hold the increase of global average temperatures to ‘well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels’ and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial levels.”

Salceda said developing countries had held on to the limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius since the negotiations prior to the Paris deal process, even as the “prospect of holding on to this limit dim with each COP, and further dims as it is pushed over on 2020, when the agreement will presumably come into force.”

Reuters said the new deal was originally scheduled to take effect in 2020 but Christiana Figueres, who stepped down this month (July) as the UN’s lead climate executive, has said she believes the agreement could come into effect early, or “by 2018.”

Salceda said studies have shown that the current pledges of developing countries go far beyond their “fair share” of responsibilities for addressing climate change.

He said the overall effect of the Paris agreement was a weakening of commitments of developed countries under the convention, which could also mean a shifting of these commitments to include developing country-parties but “without any certainty of predictable and accessible financial resources to developing countries.”

Salceda said all of these “intended national contributions” were then subject to review, previously limited only to developed countries under the convention.

He said the agreement was particularly weakened in terms of the legal obligations of developed countries, especially those with the highest responsibility in terms of historical emissions and provision of financial resources--including for the transfer of technology--to developing countries.

Salceda said the provision of financial resources had been extended, albeit as a voluntary action, to “other Parties,” and such actions, also voluntarily to be reported accordingly.

He underscored that the Paris deal mentioned that developed country-parties “should” continue to take the lead in “mobilizing” finance, “as part of a global effort,” and “from a wide variety of sources, instruments and channels.”

Salceda noted that these items in the accord were “far removed from the legal commitments” under the convention.

Reuters, in the same news release, quoted Lucille Sering, former vice chairman of the Philippines Climate Change Commission, that the country’s agreed contribution to the global climate deal is a 70 percent cut in emissions by 2030--but “conditional on sufficient international resources, technology and training being made available to make that happen.”(PNA) RMA/GVR/RBB/CBD