Ahead of COP26, Duterte renews call for urgent climate action

October 29, 2021

President Rodrigo Duterte has reiterated his call for rich countries to cut their carbon emissions, stressing the need for an urgent and serious action against climate change.

Duterte made the appeal during the East Asia Summit (EAS) held Wednesday via video conference, which was attended by five countries considered as the top global contributors of carbon emissions.

“Like many in the developing world, the Philippines calls for climate justice. We, too, deserve a fighting chance at progress,” the President said in his speech at the EAS, which is part of the 38th and 39th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summits and Related Summits.

“We hope for urgent and serious climate action. It’s within the means and power of many of our EAS partners to avert an impending collective disaster,” he added.

Duterte was addressing members of the Asean and their dialogue partners, namely: China, the United States, India, Russia, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and South Korea.

The first five cited dialogue partners of Asean were said to be among the largest emitters of carbon dioxide gas in the world, with China and the US leading the pack as carbon is needed to run the country’s industrial plants.

“Our window for effective climate action is fast closing,” Duterte said. “Those most responsible for the problem — past and present — must commit to our common goal of net zero emissions, or we are all doomed.”

In his speech, the Chief Executive lamented that the Philippines bear the “brunt of the horrendous effects of climate change” even as it contributes less than one percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

“We are battered by extreme weather events like typhoons that are increasing in frequency and intensity. These affect livelihoods, claim lives and destroy infrastructure. We adapt. We try to build back better — only to be hit by another big disaster,” Duterte said.

“Competition for domination is a futile exercise on a dying planet. Development without regard for environmental sustainability has led to global warming,” he emphasized.

Duterte’s appeal came days before the upcoming United Nations Conference on Climate Change, also known as COP26, which was set in Glasgow, Scotland from 31 October until 12 November.

The four key aims of COP26, according to the UK COP26 Presidency, are: secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach, protect communities and natural habitats, mobilise at least US$100 billion in climate finance per year, and work together to deliver on the said goals by finalizing the Paris Rulebook.

More than 100 world leaders and thousands of attendees are expected to attend the conference, the first event of its kind since the COP25 in Madrid in 2019.

The Philippines will be represented by a 19-man delegation led by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.

A UN Environment Programme study showed that new and updated pledges on emissions will only cut an additional 7.5 percent by 2030, far from the 55 percent cut needed to meet the Paris Agreement’s goal of containing global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees.

Under countries’ current targets, the world will continue to warm to 2.7 degrees, according to the report.

During the 76th United Nations General Assembly held in September, Duterte also reminded the world’s biggest polluters of their “moral obligation” in addressing the climate crisis as he pointed out that poor countries like the Philippines suffer the most from its impact.

Climate change means more droughts, floods, heatwaves, and other severe weather conditions which cause death, devastation, and increased spread of major killers of children such as malnutrition, malaria, and diarrhea.