COP28

PH delegation urged: Call for end to fossil fuels at COP28

Jee Y. Geronimo

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PH delegation urged: Call for end to fossil fuels at COP28

SOLIDARITY. Climate campaigners and civil society groups march along Quezon Memorial Circle to join global marches around the world against fossil fuels, on September 15, 2023.

Jire Carreon/Rappler

'It will be a grave disservice to Filipinos if the Philippine delegation chooses to keep its mouth shut on keeping the 1.5°C goal,' says CEED deputy executive director Avril de Torres

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The President may no longer be attending the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference here, but an environmental group said this should not stop the Philippines from making bold actions at COP28, among them calling for an end to the use of fossil fuels.

As the annual climate negotiations began on Thursday, November 30, one group represented in Dubai said the Philippine delegation must “lend its voice” to one of the key issues on the agenda: a just energy transition.

“While the Philippines’ COP 28 delegation earlier on said that it intends to call for urgent climate action and will pay particular attention to loss and damage conversations at COP among other matters, it must also lend its voice to the call for a just and rapid move away from fossil fuels and a full shift to renewables aligned to 1.5°C,” said Avril de Torres, deputy executive director of the Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED).

PH delegation urged: Call for end to fossil fuels at COP28

De Torres said it would be a “great disservice to Filipinos” if the Philippine delegation “chooses to keep its mouth shut” on this issue.

“Putting an end to the Philippines’ push for massive additional fossil fuel use, particularly with gas, is an urgent policy shift that can get us on track to 1.5°C-compatibility,” she said.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. announced early Thursday his decision to skip COP28 due to the hostage situation involving 17 Filipino seafarers in the Red Sea.

He said he had entrusted Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga to lead the country’s delegation and “articulate the country’s statement on his behalf.”

During a Malacañang briefing on Wednesday, November 29, Loyzaga said the Philippine delegation was working on seven major negotiating work schemes: loss and damage, climate finance, adaptation, mitigation, the global stocktake, just energy transition, and Article 6 of the Paris Agreement.

Loyzaga said they were also centering their positions around three general themes, among them the “pursuit of a low-carbon future which is sustainable and resilient for the country.”

But while the President last July said his government was “aggressively promoting” renewables, he also touted in the same speech his administration’s push “for more gas exploration in other parts of the country.”

Some see natural gas as a transition fuel, but critics call it a “detour” in energy transition when a direct path to renewable energy was possible. A CEED-commissioned study said that a full renewable energy transition was possible for the country by no later than 2040.

Weeks before the climate talks, Aksyon Klima Pilipinas national coordinator John Leo Algo had said the Philippine delegation’s “broad positions” in the climate talks still lacked a “strong language on ending the era of fossil fuels.”

‘Role of fossil fuels’

During Thursday’s opening ceremony, COP28 president Sultan al-Jaber, who is also the chief executive of state energy giant Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, said it was essential to leave no issue off the table.

“And yes, as I have been saying, we must look for ways and ensure the inclusion of the role of fossil fuels. I know there are strong views about the idea of including language on fossil fuels and renewables in the negotiated text,” he said.

He added: “We, collectively, have the power to do something unprecedented. In fact, we have no choice but to go the very unconventional way. I ask you all to work together. Be flexible, find common ground, come forward with solutions, achieve consensus, and never lose sight of our North Star of 1.5 [degrees Celsius].”

PH delegation urged: Call for end to fossil fuels at COP28

UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell, meanwhile, urged COP28 delegates to “decide to commit to a new energy system.”

“If we do not signal the terminal decline of the fossil fuel era as we know it, we welcome our own terminal decline. And we choose to pay with people’s lives. If this transition isn’t just, we won’t transition at all. That means justice within and between countries,” he said during the opening ceremony. – Rappler.com

This story was produced as part of the 2023 Climate Change Media Partnership, a journalism fellowship organized by Internews’ Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security.

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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.