Duterte willing to talk about Paris climate change agreement

Pia Ranada
Duterte willing to talk about Paris climate change agreement
The Philippine president says he still has 'misgivings' about the international climate pact but is ready to talk if the agreement takes into consideration his plans for the country's economy

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte softened in his stance about international climate change agreements.

If previously he said he would not honor agreements which ask the Philippines to limit its carbon emissions, he said on Friday, July 22, that he is willing to talk about the agreement if it takes into consideration the economic plans of the country.

Mag-usap tayo ulit, mag-usap tayo ulit. (Let’s talk again, let’s talk again.) You take into account our plans and if it comes to reality within the 6 years that I am President, then that is good,” he said on Friday during a visit to a military camp in Maguindanao City.

Duterte said he continues to have “misgivings” about climate deals. This time, he specifically mentioned the Paris Agreement on Climate Change which has been signed by 175 countries.

Kaya ako doon sa Paris, may misgivings ako,” he said. (As for my thoughts on Paris, I have misgivings.)

Duterte’s doubts in the agreement lie in what he believes is the intrinsic unfairness of developing countries being asked to limit their carbon emissions as they grow when the First World countries of today were never imposed such limits as they expanded their economy.

He said even if the pledges to reduce carbon emissions are voluntary, as is the pledge of the Philippines under the Paris climate agreement, the arrangement is still unfair. (READ: Environmental groups, advocates to Duterte: ‘Let us talk’)

“Eh kung ang i-ratio nila, pare-pareho lang sa dati maski — even if it is a self-imposed, hindi ka naman maka-impose na ‘ito yung aming allotment.’ Sabihin, ‘hindi, bababa kami, bababa ka rin.’ Ang problema nitong mga industrial countries, dumating na sila sa kanilang papatunguhan. They have reached the destination, highly-industrialized na ‘yan,” he said.

(If they make a ratio like before, even if it is self-imposed, you can’t just impose that this is our allotment. They say, ‘if we reduce, you have to reduce also.’The problem with these industrial countries is they are already where they want to be. They have reached the destination, they are already highly-industrialized.)

Compare this to the Philippines which, according to Duterte, has no factories.

Tayo wala naman tayong factory. I travelled the whole — ito wala akong nakita ni isa,” Duterte said. (We don’t have factories. I travelled the whole – I haven’t seen even one.)

He plans to change this state of affairs by promoting industrialization. One of his plans for the economy is to establish “industrial zones” in order to create more jobs and improve skills of Filipino workers.

“We will be starting our industrialization, if we are really true to our promise to serve the Filipino and to serve them good,” said Duterte.

He acknowledges that factories tend to pollute but said this is part of the process of industrialization.

To him, it’s only fair that developing countries get to pollute this time around.

Ngayon, pagdating ng mga factory na ‘yan, may usok talaga ‘yan…Kami, ang bisyo rin namin, dumating rin — in parity, tabla ba,” he said. (Now, when it comes to factories, it will really spew smoke…Our time for vices has come — in parity, it’s just fair.)

It would be ridiculous for developed countries like the United States to suggest the Philippines can’t pollute as the US once did in order to grow their economy, continued Duterte.

Eh kung ayaw ninyo kaming patablahin kasi nandiyan na kayo, kami nandito eh sabi ko, ‘kalokohan yan.’ I will not agree to that. How can I industrialize the country if you are putting limits now, even if they say “ah sige, ikaw ang bahala”? Mahiya ka man magsabi na dito kami, hanggang dito lang kami,” he said.

(If you can’t give us the same chance you had because you are already up there and we are just here, I say, ‘That’s ridiculous.’ I will not agree to that. How can I industrialize the country if you are putting limits now, even if they say, ‘it’s up to you’? You should be embarrassed to say we can only reach this far.)

Under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the Philippines has promised to reduce its carbon emissions by 70% by 2030 with assistance from the international community. This means the country has said it can only achieve its target if developed countries or private sector provide resources like financial aid or technology.

Though the Philippine government has signed the agreement, it needs to be ratified by Congress. – Rappler.com 

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.