LE BOURGET, France – Tired but victorious.
This was how the head of the Philippine delegation to the UN climate talks in (COP21) described the mood of the team minutes after leaving a plenary during which the historic Paris Agreement on Climate Change was adopted by over 190 states.
“I think I can speak for the rest of the delegation, we are very tired. Because these past days, these marathon negotiations, we really lacked sleep,” said Emmanuel “Manny” de Guzman, also a Climate Change Commissioner, on Saturday, December 12, the last day of COP21.
The night was a moment of achievement for the 158-member delegation who endured over two weeks of negotiations, grappling with complicated text to ensure the final agreement will have the Philippines’ interests at heart.
COP21 President and French foreign minister Laurent Fabius’ sealing the deal with his gavel was greeted with thunderous applause and standing ovations from multiple halls in the sprawling conference venue.
For some members of the Philippine delegation, some of whom even attended the first UN climate negotiations in 1995, it was a culmination of years of effort.
“This is a victory for all. This is a victory for humanity because we’ve found a common ground. We have a universal and balanced, ambitious, and acceptable agreement,” said De Guzman.
The entire Saturday had been a tense one as countries awaited the release of the final draft of the agreement until around 11:30 am, Paris time.
Country delegations then spent around 4 hours analyzing each line of the document and attending meetings of negotiating blocs they were part to agree on a position.
A turning point during these crucial hours was the decision of the largest negotiating bloc, G77+China, to adopt the final draft without any changes. The Philippines belongs to this bloc.
The group of over 130 developing countries is influential due to sheer numbers and membership of China, now the world’s top carbon emitter.
A member of the Philippine delegation inside the G77+China meeting said the mood in the room when this decision was made was “very celebratory.” Rounds of applause greeted every statement.
De Guzman offered the world’s victory to farmers and fishermen back home in the Philippines.
“Sa climate change agreement na ito, mayroon tayong masasabing pag-asa. Pag-asa na maiangat natin ang kalagayan ng ating magsasaka, mangingisda at protektahan natin sila sa impact ng climate change,” he said.
(In this climate change agreement, we can say there is hope. Hope for us to uplift the conditions of our farmers and fisherfolk, and to protect them from the impact of climate change.)
Farmers and fishermen are among the most at risk of suffering from climate change because their livelihood is intimately tied with nature’s balance.
Intense drought can cause certain crops of farmers to die out. Warming ocean waters and coral bleaching can harm marine ecosystems, thereby reducing fish catch for fishermen.
Not to mention the fact that it’s farmers and fishermen who often have to start from scratch when a strong typhoon hits their communities.
Though lacking sleep, De Guzman said many Philippine delegation members would celebrate with Paris-based Filipinos who offered to throw them a party that night.
It would be a night of victory for the team, but also of gratitude. – Rappler.com