MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Despite his misgivings, President Rodrigo Duterte has signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea confirmed to Rappler on Wednesday, March 1, that Duterte signed the "Instrument of Accession" on Tuesday, February 28.
The "Instrument of Accession" is a document signifying the Philippines' ratification of the historic climate change agreement.
The signed document was received by Senator Loren Legarda, who said she will sponsor it for concurrence. Present at the ceremonial transmittal was Deputy Executive Secretary Meynard Guevarra and Legarda, who is the chair of the Senate committee on climate change. (READ: Senate to OK Paris climate deal before March 18 – Legarda)
Senate concurrence is the final step in the ratification process.
The Instrument of Accession was given to Duterte on January 31 during the first Climate Change Commission and Advisory Board en banc meeting of his administration.
The Paris Agreement on Climate Change is the first-ever legally-binding global agreement on climate change signed by almost all countries.
It was signed by a total of 194 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2015 in the French capital.
The document became ready for Duterte's signature when all 33 certificates of concurrence (COCs) were signed after having gone through various Philippine government agencies.
The COCs are documents affirming that the agencies understand and approve the agreement and vow to do their share in implementing the country's commitment under the deal – to reduce carbon emissions by 70% by 2030 on the condition that the international community provides assistance.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III earlier expressed confidence that the Philippines will be able to ratify the Paris climate deal by July.
Senate concurrence is the final step in order for the Philippines to ratify the historic climate pact as over 120 other countries have done. Senate approval would mean the climate deal becomes a treaty.
By ratifying the agreement, the Philippines signifies its intent to be legally-bound to the accord at the international level.
Duterte had expressed qualms about ratifying the deal, saying any commitment to cut down on carbon emissions unfairly restrains developing countries like the Philippines from growing their economies. (READ: Duterte: Climate change real but Paris treaty unfair)
He also doubted the ability of the United Nations to ensure developed countries provide assistance to poorer ones as they transition their economies to become more climate-resilient and less pollutive.
After fiery debates in Cabinet meetings, Duterte put the matter to a vote. A majority of Cabinet officials voted to ratify the agreement. – with a report from Camille Elemia / Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.