PRIMER: Marcos government’s participation at COP28 climate summit in Dubai

Dwight de Leon

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PRIMER: Marcos government’s participation at COP28 climate summit in Dubai

OFWs. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. speaks to the Filipino community, during his state visit in Malaysia, on July 25, 2023.


(1st UPDATE) Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga leads the Philippine delegation at COP28 after President Marcos canceled his Dubai trip due to developments on the 17 Filipino seafarers held hostage by Houthi rebels

(Editor’s note: President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. canceled his trip to the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference or COP28 at the last minute. Click here for the story: Marcos cancels Dubai trip at the last minute, will not attend COP28)

MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was supposed to join other world leaders in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), on Thursday, November 30, to take part in the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference, also known as COP28.

He had to cancel what was supposed to be his 11th international trip for the year – and 17th since taking office in mid-2022 – to attend to “important developments in the hostage situation involving 17 Filipino seafarers in the Red Sea.”

Here’s what you need to know about the Philippines’ participation at COP28.

Environment chief Loyzaga has been tasked to lead the Philippine delegation.

Marcos has tasked Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga, who is already in Dubai, to lead the Philippine delegation and to represent him in events involving world leaders

Marcos’ first agenda, just like in past foreign trips, was supposed to be a meet-and-greet event with the Filipino community upon his supposed arrival in Dubai on Thursday afternoon.

The summit runs from November 30 to December 12. Heads of state and government are expected to attend only two to three days of the conference, but Loyzaga will be at COP28 for the duration of the annual event to continue negotiations until the end of the summit.

Maria Teresa Almojuela, Assistant Secretary of the Office of United Nations and Other International Organizations, said the Philippines has 237 registered onsite delegates representing 16 government agencies and civil society.

Loyzaga will deliver Marcos’ plenary speech.

Friday, December 1, marks the start of the World Climate Action Summit. The ceremonial opening of the first part of the high-level segment of heads of state and government will take place on this day.

In the morning, Marcos’ representative will lead the opening of a 100-square-meter Philippine Pavilion in the summit, which will be a venue for side events.

Loyzaga is expected to take Marcos’ place in a family photo with over 140 royalties and heads of state and government.

Between 2 pm and 6 pm, Loyzaga, representing Marcos, will deliver a national statement in one of the two simultaneous plenaries. Marcos is number 11 on the list of speakers, right after the president of the Central African Republic, and just before the president of Switzerland.

A leader session on transforming climate finance follows the delivery of national statements.

There are other side events organized by the Philippine delegation.

Marcos was supposed take part in a side event organized by the Philippine delegation with the government of Kenya and the International Organization on Migration, a task that is likely to be carried out by Loyzaga as delegation head.

Almojuela said it would be about the Philippines “pushing for a stronger global consensus on the nexus between climate change and migration.”

Loyzaga said there are 32 side events in the pavilion, to be hosted by the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Health, Department of Agriculture, and DENR.

Among the Philippines’ top interest in the summit is the loss and damage fund.

As the Philippines is one of the countries most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change, the country will be monitoring closely the status of discussions on the proposed loss and damage fund.

There’s no internationally agreed definition for loss and damage, but the United Nations Environment Programme describes it as “negative consequences that arise from the unavoidable risks of climate change.” 

Developed countries contribute three-fourths of total global greenhouse emissions, yet developing countries are the most vulnerable to impacts of climate change.

For years, climate-vulnerable developing countries have lobbied for the establishment of a Loss and Damage fund at the UN climate conference stage.  

“It’s extremely important that this becomes operationalized soonest and that we are able to access it in a timely and locally driven fashion,” Loyzaga said.

Loyzaga added that the Philippine government will work on seven major negotiating work schemes: loss and damage, climate finance, adaptation, mitigation, global stocktake, just transition, and global cooperation. –

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Dwight de Leon

Dwight de Leon is a multimedia reporter who covers President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the Malacañang, and the Commission on Elections for Rappler.