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Rep. Salceda: Paris Agreement bad for PH, developing countries

LEGAZPI CITY, July 26, 2016 (Bicol Standard) – Albay 2nd District Rep. Joey Salceda has reiterated his disapproval of the ratification of the Paris Agreement, backing President Rodrigo Duterte’s stance.

Rep. Joey Salceda
“President Duterte's position not to ratify the agreement is in the interest of the nation and in consonance with the position of the developing countries esp. G77 – China,” he said.

Salceda is the former co-Chair of the UNFCCC Green Climate Fund Board.

Below is Salceda’s full statement, published in February 2016:

“Most of the Western-dominated world media hailed the adoption of the Paris Agreement at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris, France in December 2015 (Paris COP21). The few dissenting voices, mainly from developing countries, including those in the Philippines, were left unheard and unheeded. Responsible voices from both developed and developing world did point out that the Agreement, meant to replace the only legal regime governing 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 affects.

As in Cancun in 2010, the final result was adopted by applause, drowning out the objections of Nicaragua, not even acknowledging its raised flag. But even after going was overtime, France did not want anything to block a “success” in Paris. It did however hold up the final meeting to adopt the Agreement over the objections of the United States over the use of the word “shall” that would imply its agreement to a legally binding requirement on economy-wide absolute emission reduction targets for developed countries. This would mean a “new commitment” that would require US congressional approval for the Agreement, something that would definitely spell the end of a “universal agreement” in Paris. The host country obliged, gaveling through the agreement, and a compliant secretariat lamely admitted a “technical” glitch, albeit a glaring one, on such an important document.

In effect, therefore, there are no enhanced commitments from developed countries for further emissions limitations, but developing countries have been pressured into putting on the table their “intended nationally-determined contributions” (INDCs), many determined with the assistance and funding from developed countries with the use of their own consultants. It was only after extremely difficult discussions that adaptation actions have been accepted as contributions of developing countries. However, these adaptation efforts still need to be recognized “in accordance with modalities to be adopted” by the governing body of the Agreement. Adaptation actions have become imperative for developing countries to enable them to undertake strong mitigation actions but remain woefully underfunded under the Convention, and are likely to remain so under this new Agreement. No links with financing for adaptation feature in the Paris Agreement.

The Paris Agreement is essentially a compilation of pledges from all Parties to the Convention to limit emissions, and a review of these pledges. The purpose of the Agreement is to hold the increase of global average temperature to “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels” and “to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above the pre-industrial levels”. Developing countries have held on to the limit of 1.5°C since the negotiations prior to the Paris Agreement process, even as the prospect of holding on to this limit dim with each COP, and further dims as it is pushed over to 2020, when the Agreement presumably will come into force. It must likewise be recognized that a “global mean” would imply much higher increases in temperature in different regions, in particular in Africa and the developing world.

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

The overall effect of the Paris Agreement is a weakening of commitments of developed countries under the Convention, a shift of these commitments to include developing country Parties, without any certainty of predictable and accessible financial resources to developing countries. All of these “intended national contributions” are then subject to review, previously limited only to developed countries under the Convention.

The Agreement is particularly weakened in terms of the legal obligations of developed countries, especially those with the highest responsibilities to historical emissions, on the provision of financial resources, including for the transfer of technology, to developing countries. The provision of financial resources have been extended, albeit as a voluntary action, to “other Parties”, and such actions, also voluntarily to be reported accordingly. 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.” This is far removed from the legal commitments under the Convention.

A great majority of developing countries’ INDCs are made conditional on the provision of financial resources, including for technology and capacity-building. This is in full accordance with obligations under the Convention. The Agreement however provides no certainty that these financial resources shall be provided. Objections even were raised by developed countries on a clear definition of what consists of climate finance, leaving them free to call climate financing whatever suits their objectives.

On loss and damage, even while the developing countries’ call for a separate article specifically on this issue was reflected, there remain no links on financing. It was even specified in the accompanying decisions that the Article in the Agreement “does not involve or provide a basis for any liability or compensation.” A tenuous link to financing is provided in the Article dealing with technology development and transfer, in terms of a periodic assessment of the ”adequacy of support” tempered however by the need likewise to determine its “effectiveness”, a condition of results-based financing practiced by existing multilateral financing institutions.

It is significant that no Annexes exist under the new Agreement. Under the Convention, Annexes are based on the degree of responsibilities for historical emissions that resulted in concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, causing climate change. Only “developed” and “developing” countries are mentioned in the Agreement, for which there is no internationally agreed definition. The way is then open for shifts in the categorization of Parties depending on their “national circumstances”, as may be determined under the Agreement. Despite the reference to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities, differentiation is all but erased under the new Agreement.

There remain possibilities for developing countries to strengthen provisions on financing and technology under the decisions taken by the COP for the period leading up to the presumed date of entry into force of the Agreement. Among them is the recognition of needs-based financing, and the start of a process to identify the “qualitative and quantitative information” to be provided by developed country Parties on financial resources to be provided to developing country Parties.” It is then incumbent upon developing countries to identify their financing and technology needs and to translate their INDCs into quantified financial resources and required access to technologies.

Representation of developing countries in the processes that will determine these actions, such as mechanisms under the Convention should be strengthened so that they may be able to promote their interests effectively. This would be especially true for the new ad hoc working group on the Paris Agreement (APA).

These, however, would not suffice. We cannot afford to wait until the entry into force of this Agreement to act, and that would be way too late. Each country should continue to undertake strong adaptation and mitigation actions urgently. All are affected by an increasing number of extreme weather events. Science tells us that even if all emissions cease immediately, the adverse effects of current changes will still have to be dealt with for decades to come.

These should be accompanied by changes in consumption and production lifestyles increasingly dependent on continued use of energy. Food consumption and production practices should be revised to focus on local products, and less waste. Poverty eradication and sustainable development should remain the first and overriding priorities for developing countries.

The time to act is NOW.” (BICOLSTANDARD.COM)

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