climate change

At COP27 crunch time, civil society decry PH’s ‘lack of strong voice at negotiating table’

Jee Y. Geronimo

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At COP27 crunch time, civil society decry PH’s ‘lack of strong voice at negotiating table’

A climate activist holds a placard during a protest demanding climate justice and human rights at the Sharm El-Sheikh International Convention Centre, during the COP27 climate summit, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, November 15, 2022. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

'Unity must not just be a catchphrase; it must be embodied through actions for the benefit of current and future generations,' says a statement signed by representatives of Philippine civil society and social movements

MANILA, Philippines – As the 2022 United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference enters crunch time, representatives of Philippine civil society and social movements at COP27 expressed their disappointment over the “status and conduct” of the government’s delegation in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

The 29-member delegation headed into the more tense second week of climate negotiations without its leaders, Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga and Secretary Robert Borje, Climate Change Commission (CCC) vice chairperson and executive director.

Loyzaga and Borje had to return to the Philippines to face legislators’ questions about their agencies’ proposed budget for 2023.

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Over a dozen representatives of civil society groups participating in Egypt issued a statement on Wednesday, November 16 – two days before the annual climate conference ends on November 18 – saying that despite all efforts to engage the government before and during COP27, they obtained a “more detailed presentation” of the country’s positions only halfway through the summit.

“While we have observed during the first few months under the new presidency steps being taken for more inclusive climate policymaking, these have not been sustained leading to COP27,” the groups said.

“Instead, we are headed for the same situation that has been observed in recent years: a lack of a strong Philippine voice on the negotiating table, with nongovernment stakeholders continuously reaching out to our negotiators yet left searching for answers.”

According to the groups, the lack of strong in-person leadership in Egypt “at the very least, makes the Philippine position look weak,” adding that this would likely affect the country’s capacity to make a strong statement on crucial climate issues.

PH’s positions

Philippine ambassador to Egypt Ezzedin Tago, the new head of the delegation, represented the country during the national statements on Tuesday, November 15.

In his speech, Tago pushed for an “increased and efficient” access to climate finance for loss and damage and mitigation, as well as financing for “contextually-driven” adaptation.

“The Philippines further enjoins the COP27 to adopt emission avoidance as eligible mitigation action under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Emission avoidance in energy, transport, manufacturing, agriculture, human-induced deforestation, and other greenhouse gas-emitting development activities are risk-management measurements to minimize the negative impact of global warming and climate change,” Tago said.

At COP27 crunch time, civil society decry PH’s ‘lack of strong voice at negotiating table’

In their statement, the civil society representatives called on the Philippine government to implement the following:

  • Assert the alignment of all COP27 outcomes to the 1.5°C Paris Agreement ambition, demanding the immediate phase out of coal, gas, oil, and all other fossil fuels in a just and equitable manner.
  • Exhibit more transparency and communications to the Filipino public on the activities of the government delegation at COP27, including the positions presented to other parties and inputs in the decision text.
  • Improve inter-agency coordination in determining the negotiators, supporting personnel, and other preparations for future COPs to maximize the impact that the government delegation can have on the negotiations, in anticipation of the national budget hearings coinciding with the period of climate negotiations.
  • Include more civil society representatives in the delegation to provide more human resource and support in the advancement of national positions on key climate issues.
  • Establish a sustained annual multi-stakeholder, inter-agency process for developing Philippine positions to be carried in succeeding COPs, inclusive of the inputs of civil society organizations, and informing stakeholders of developments at the COPs and plans for bringing international policies forward at national level.

They said they remained willing to engage the delegation and support its activities “but not without holding them accountable for any shortcomings that would place our collective present and future at risk.”

“Unity must not just be a catchphrase; it must be embodied through actions for the benefit of current and future generations,” the statement read.

The statement was signed by representatives of Living Laudato Si’ Philippines, Aksyon Klima Pilipinas, Franciscans International, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, Sanlakas, Youth Climate Activist and Organizer, Youth Strike 4 Climate Philippines, Youth for Climate Hope – Negros, Youth Advocates for Climate Action Philippines, Center for Environmental Concerns Philippines, Home of Sibuyan Island Peoples, Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development, Parabukas, Greenpeace Philippines, Waves for Water Philippines, Coal-Free Bataan Movement, Non-Timber Forest Products Exchange Programme-Asia, LILAK, Health Care Without Harm-Southeast Asia, TEBTEBBA, and Pakisama. – Rappler.com

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Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.