PARIS, France – When President Benigno Aquino III faces other heads of state Monday afternoon, November 30, at the United Nations climate conference, the tone of his speech will be optimistic but cautious.
Presidential adviser on environmental protection Nereus Acosta said Aquino’s speech builds on the Manila Call to Action on Climate Change, launched by the Philippines and France, host of COP21 or the 21st Conference of Parties of the UN Convention Framework on Climate Change.
“He is hopeful. It’s also signaling that the Manila Call to Action was a serious call for the world,” Acosta, part of Aquino’s official delegation in Paris, told Rappler.
The Manila call is a joint statement of the Philippines and France launched in Malacañang on February 26, during the state visit of French President Francois Hollande.
The call has 4 key messages to the world – climate action, solidarity and justice, cooperation and financial and technical solidarity. (FULL TEXT: Manila Call to Action on Climate Change)
Sense of urgency
Aquino is attending the Leaders’ Event of COP21 that will kick off the historic two-week negotiations in a city that is still in shock after the November 13 terror attacks. According to the UN, about 150 world leaders will attend the event that will be presided over by Hollande. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and COP21 president Laurent Fabius will also be at the event.
Aquino arrived early Sunday evening, November 29, just as climate negotiators started meeting – a day earlier than scheduled. The negotiations began with a sense of urgency, aiming to finish a crucial document by Thursday, December 3, two days ahead of the deadline.
In his speech, the President will echo the need to forge a binding deal on combating global warming, aiming at keeping global average temperature below 2 degrees Celsius. “The framework is about urgency. And especially for vulnerable countries, the issue isn’t just about mitigation but also about adaptation,” Acosta said.
To make a case for the pressing need to come up with a binding and equitable agreement, Acosta said Aquino will share the experience of the Philippines in dealing with disasters like Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
After the leaders’ event, Aquino will reiterate his message in a keynote he is set to deliver at the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF), a high-level event on the sidelines of the COP21.
At the CVF, he will lead the call for a lower threshhold temperature: 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The Philippines is among the top 10 countries with the “highest proportion of affected people over the total population,” according to a recent report by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters.
However, even as the President is optimistic, he is aware of the contentious issues in the summit like “climate financing,” Acosta said.
“States are not neutral. They have national interests and economies to protect,” he added, noting that Aquino is also cautious about his expectations in Paris.
#COP21: The Rappler climate coverage
Acosta said the President will urge his leaders to sort out the key issue in the ongoing negotiations so that developing countries can absorb the requirements for resilient and green economies.
“You have to put real means and resources to ensure that those that are vulnerable like the Philippines will achieve resiliency,” he said.
Many delegates in Paris expect big countries whose industries significantly contribute to global warming like the United States, China, India, and Saudi Arabia to announce billion-dollar initiatives that seek to encourage clean technology and environmentally-friendly development in poor countries. – Rappler.com