COP27 a test for Marcos administration to walk the talk on climate change

Jhesset O. Enano

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COP27 a test for Marcos administration to walk the talk on climate change

MARCOS ON CLIMATE. Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. addresses the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York City, US, September 20, 2022.

Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Tony La Viña, a former lead climate negotiator who is in Egypt as an observer for COP27, says he expects the Philippine delegation to 'not just deliver speeches but actively help craft text that can be adopted at the end of the COP'

MANILA, Philippines – The United Nations (UN) climate summit in Egypt will be a litmus test for the Marcos administration’s oft-repeated commitment to address climate change, according to experts.

The 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change begins Sunday, November 6. World leaders and climate negotiators are expected to converge in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh in the next two weeks to decide on critical measures needed to address climate change.

This year, Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga is leading the Philippine delegation at COP27. With her are representatives and negotiators from the Climate Change Commission (CCC), the House of Representatives, the departments of environment, energy, finance, foreign affairs, and agriculture, as well as advisers from civil society organizations.

Loyzaga was appointed by President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. as chairperson-designate of the CCC, concurrent to her post at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. By law, the Philippine president serves as the chairperson of the commission, the government’s sole policy-making body on matters relating to climate change.

Marcos’ move follows that of his predecessor, former president Rodrigo Duterte, who appointed then-finance secretary Carlos Dominguez to represent him in the commission towards the end of his term. Dominguez led the country’s delegation at COP26 in Glasgow in 2021, edging out then-CCC vice chairperson Emmanuel de Guzman, who had in previous years led Philippine negotiators in the climate talks.

Marcos was initially invited to attend COP27 but is not expected to join. He is set to fly to Cambodia to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN summit on November 10 to 13, and then to Thailand for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings on November 14 to 19.

In a statement, Loyzaga said the Philippines will press for climate finance and assistance from rich nations to help developing countries adapt to the worsening impacts of climate change.

“The Philippine delegation will assert the country’s call for bolder climate action and demand the delivery of what is due for the developing countries, which hardly produce any greenhouse gas emissions yet suffer the most,” she said.

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Everything you need to know about COP27

Everything you need to know about COP27

Since his inauguration in June, Marcos has frequently mentioned the need to address climate change in his speeches and interviews. At the UN General Assembly last September, he called climate change the “greatest threat” faced by different nations and highlighted its disproportionate impact on the least emitters.

Following the onslaught of Severe Tropical Storm Paeng (Nalgae) in October, the President once again acknowledged climate change as a real peril, and ordered tree-planting activities to prevent future floods.

“It’s gotten pretty clear at this point that while he has a passable speechwriter, Marcos Jr. isn’t walking the talk when it comes to the necessary action around climate,” said Jon Bonifacio, national coordinator of the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment.

“Nevertheless, this is a moment for Secretary Loyzaga’s expertise in climate change and disaster resilience to shine through, but this can only be done if she listens to the people’s demands,” he added.

Tony La Viña, a former lead climate negotiator for the Philippines and a veteran adviser of previous delegations, said he has moderate expectations of this year’s delegation since most of its members are fairly new to the process.

“I expect they will not just deliver speeches but actively help craft text that can be adopted at the end of the COP,” said the environmental lawyer, who is in Egypt as an observer from the Manila Observatory, where he is the associate director of climate policy and international relations.

Loyzaga previously served as executive director of the observatory, a scientific research institution studying atmospheric and Earth science.

“I hope that the delegation makes use of the talent and experience of the many of us who are in Sharm from the academic and civil society sectors…. There are many climate negotiations veterans who are official observers that could help the delegation if they reached out to them,” he said.

In previous COPs, the cooperation between Philippine negotiators and the civil society was effective in leading the discussions on climate finance and forests, he added.

“The Duterte government stopped that, and we have weakened our negotiating position because of that,” La Viña said. “COP27 is a first test of the [Marcos] administration, and I believe they will pass the test of effectiveness and relevance – but they need civil society to make that happen.”

Follow Rappler’s COP27 coverage here. –

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