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Paris climate deal submitted to Duterte for approval

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The document signifying the Philippines' ratification of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change has been submitted to President Rodrigo Duterte for his signature.

The "Instrument of Accession" was submitted to Duterte during the Climate Change Commission and Advisory Board en banc meeting on Tuesday, January 31, at the Palace, said Climate Change Commissioner Emmanuel de Guzman.

At the meeting, the last of 33 certificates of concurrence (COCs) were signed by Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr.

The COCs are documents affirming that the various Philippine government agencies understand and approve the agreement and vow to do their share in implementing the country's commitment under the deal.

"I am elated with the completion of the certificate of concurrence for the Paris Agreement by our national government agencies," said De Guzman.

"Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay signed the last COC and submitted the Instrument of Accession (Ratification) to the President for his approval and signature, and for transmission thereafter to the Senate for concurrence," added the commissioner.

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. 

"This is an important development towards the country's joining the climate change accord and the early delivery of its benefits to our Filipino people," said De Guzman.

He said the Philippines stands to gain much from ratifying the deal, including assistance from the international community in financing climate adaptation programs, and improving the capacity and knowledge of of government and private sector in handling climate-related phenomena like stronger typhoons and more destructive droughts.

Ratification by July

A total of 194 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in France's capital in December 2015. 

It made history as the first-ever legally-binding global agreement on climate change signed by almost all countries.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III previously expressed confidence that the Philippines would be able to ratify the agreement by July.

There were worries that the Philippines, known to have been among the developing nations that had championed the deal, would not ratify it after President Duterte announced he would not honor international agreements binding the Philippines to limit its carbon emissions.

Duterte has said he is suspicious of the deal, claiming it unfairly constrains the economic growth of developing nations which need emission-heavy industrialization to grow. (READ: Duterte: Climate change real but Paris treaty unfair)

He also questioned how the deal would impose sanctions on wealthy nations like the United States and Europe should they fail to reach their promised carbon emission reductions.

There were fiery debates about the issue of ratifying the Paris climate deal in Cabinet meetings.

Finally, Duterte put the matter to a vote. He ended up conceding despite his reservations because a majority of his Cabinet voted to ratify the agreement. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

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 pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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