UNEP: ‘We need to speed up’ on climate change

Jee Y. Geronimo
UNEP: ‘We need to speed up’ on climate change
'The train has left the station, the train is speeding up, but we need to speed up more,' says United Nations Environment Programme head Erik Solheim

MANILA, Philippines – United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) head Erik Solheim on Wednesday, October 25, said nations “need to speed up” when it comes to climate change.

“I’m confident that we are on the right track but we need to speed up. The train has left the station, the train is speeding up, but we need to speed up more,” Solheim told reporters at the sidelines of the 12th Conference of the Parties (COP12) to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) of Wild Animals held in Manila. 

Solheim said it is “good news” that while US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, this has not discouraged other countries who are parties to the agreement.

“Every other nation in the world said ‘No, no, no, we will move ahead whatever happens.’ There were 3 nations who were not in the Paris Agreement: Nicaragua, Syria – because of the war – and the United States. Now Nicaragua has joined,” he explained.

Even big companies in the US, Solheim noted, want to move in this direction because “there are more interest in jobs in the green economy than in the old, brown economy.”

In December 2015, the Philippines and other nations agreed on a global climate pact which aims to keep global temperature rise this century to below 2ºC.

At least 175 countries signed the Paris climate deal months later, in April 2016, and the agreement entered into force in November 2016. The Philippines ratified the Paris Agreement last March

What to expect at COP23

During his speech before the CMS COP12 delegates on Wednesday morning, Solheim challenged countries to bring the politics of biodiversity at the same level as climate change.

He said “nearly every politician on the planet” has already accepted the climate message – a feat that he hopes biodiversity will achieve by 2020.

“Climate change comes up as a very, very key issue for human survival. However, I think we can be as successful in setting out the case for biodiversity. It’s a key to human survival also,” he said in the interview with reporters.

This year’s UN Climate Change Conference (COP23) will take place in Bonn, Germany this November, with small island-state of Fiji at the helm of the negotiations.

What can countries expect to happen during the annual conference?

“Because there are no major negotiations to take place because those took place in Paris, maybe really showcasing solutions. Among every other thing, the most important is that the price of solar and wind has now gone down to a level where it can compete with coal everywhere in the world,” Solheim explained.

He cited as example major emitters China and India for their “determination” to fight pollution. In addition, he said big cities like Metro Manila can move into “electrical mobility.”

“If Manila can move into electrical mobility, replace this old car part with new modern and electrical vehicles, the pollution will come down very, very fast. Good for climate and good for health,” Solheim added.

The CMS meeting will run until October 28 at the Philippine International Convention Center.

This is the first time the triennial conference is held in Asia since the international treaty was adopted in Bonn, Germany in 1979, and entered into force in 1985. – Rappler.com

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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.