#COP21: 4 crucial things PH wants from the UN climate deal

Pia Ranada
#COP21: 4 crucial things PH wants from the UN climate deal
(UPDATED) If these 4 things are included in the final UN climate pact, the Philippine team will consider their efforts at COP21 a success

(This article will be updated to reflect changes in the draft agreement.)

LE BOURGET, France (UPDATED) – What is the Philippine delegation fighting for at the UN climate talks in Paris?

The last mile of gruelling climate negotiations began on Wednesday afternoon, December 9, after the release of the latest draft climate agreement. On Thursday, night, a near-final version of the agreement was released. The Philippine negotiating team participated in crunch-time talks that ended 5 am the next day.

What are they losing sleep for? What exactly does the Philippines want from the UN climate deal expected to be ready by Saturday, December 12?

Based on interviews with members of the Philippine delegation, Rappler lists down the provisions that absolutely have to be in the agreement for the Philippine team to consider their efforts a success.

1. Below 1.5°C warming limit

Location in draft: Article 2 (Purpose)

For a long time, the widely-accepted goal of the world was to keep the world’s warming to below 2°C. But the Philippines, as well as other developing, highly-vulnerable nations, think below 2°C is still a dangerous level of warming.

FILIPINOS AT COP21. Presidential adviser for environment protection Neric Acosta is part of the Philippine delegation in Paris. Photo from official COP21 Flickr


Super typhoons are battering the Philippines even at the current level of warming – 0.8°C. So the Philippines, and a growing number of countries, want the Paris agreement to contain a reference to the 1.5°C warming goal.

Aside from protecting more countries, and ultimately more people and living things, the 1.5°C goal provides a safer buffer and wider margin for error. 

Status: The good news is, the phrase “below 1.5°C” is already outside brackets, meaning unless there are last minute objections, it will most likely be in the agreement.

However, the wording of the reference to 1.5°C is not as strong as the Philippines would want it because it is only an aspirational goal.

The new wording says that the world’s goal is to “hold the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.”

2. Human rights

Location in draft: Preamble

The human rights elements in the draft are a direct contribution from the Philippine team. The Philippines wants human rights to be a “bedrock” of the agreement so it protects the human dignity of all sectors: indigenous peoples, children, persons with disabilities, women, and “people in vulnerable situations and under occupation.”

Status: The human rights paragraph in the Preamble is no longer in brackets, a good development because it means it will probably appear that way in the final deal.

Some countries oppose the inclusion of human rights because they believe there are other instruments outside climate agreements that already take care of human rights. Countries with land rights issues and migration issues also don’t support this call.

FIGHTING FOR PH. Members of the Philippine delegation huddle inside a plenary hall at the UN climate summit in Paris. Photo from Tony La Viña

3. Climate finance

Location in draft: Article 6

Climate finance refers to monetary assistance from developed countries to be given to poor, vulnerable countries to help them reduce carbon emissions (mitigation) and protect their people from adverse impacts of climate change (adaptation).

The Philippines wants an exact figure of how much developed countries will provide.  

Status: So far, the only actual number is “a floor of $100 billion per year” and it is now outside any brackets in Article 6. But the Philippine team also wants the following adjectives describing the nature of climate finance to be taken out of brackets: accessible, sustained, and scaled up.

4. Loss and damage

Location in draft: Article 5

The concept of loss and damage is another major contribution of the Philippines to the text. The team, led by former lead negotiator Naderev “Yeb” Saño, introduced a special mechanism to address this back in the 19th Conference of Parties in Warsaw in 2013 (the year Yolanda struck). The mechanism is called the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage.

Loss and damage refers to when a country is struck so frequently by climate-linked disasters that its own resources can no longer keep up with recovery or rehabilitation needs.

Status: The Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM) is mentioned in two options and is now outside brackets.

However, a phrase that completely cuts off the concept of liability and compensation from the loss and damage mechanism is now in the agreement, outside brackets. This is not acceptable to the Philippines.

Liability and compensation is important for the country because future climate victims should not be deprived of the right to demand for compensation for climate-linked disasters that other countries or entities may be liable for due to their unabated carbon emissions.

Option 2 under Article 5 also lists down actions countries will undertake such as creating risk insurance facilities and ways to address displacement, migration, and planned relocation of peoples due to climate change impacts.

The Philippines is now leading the charge for the creation of a boosted version of the WIM, called WIMPlus. The team envisions this upgraded mechanism to take effect after 2016 when the WIM expires. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.