President Duterte will consider declaring a “climate emergency” in the Philippines to help achieve its goals under the Paris Agreement.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after environmental group Greenpeace Philippines urged the President to declare a “climate emergency” after Duterte, in his speech during the 75th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) last year, called on other countries to honor their commitment to fighting the crisis.
In his Monday presser, Roque said it will be up to the President to heed the advice of Greenpeace Philippines but added that Duterte will surely consider it.
“That will be a decision of the President,” he said.
“Ang masasabi ko lang po, top of the agenda po ng ating Presidente ‘yan (All I can say is it’s on top of the President’s agenda) and the President will consider this suggestion made by Greenpeace,” he added.
According to Greenpeace, President Duterte should issue an executive order that will put climate action at the center of all policy decision-making from local to the national level as this will ensure the Philippines’ rapid and just transition to a low-carbon pathway through the phaseout of coal and fossil fuel investments.
It added that a climate emergency declaration would enable a recovery that will transform the Philippine economy and society to tackle climate change and promote positive environmental and health outcomes.
“Aside from calling in countries to enhance their commitments to the Paris Agreement, the declaration must also be a call for climate justice and hold big polluters—fossil fuel and cement companies—accountable for their role in driving climate change, which has placed millions of Filipinos in vulnerable situations with loss of lives, homes, and livelihoods,” Greenpeace country director Lea Guerrero wrote in a statement.
She likewise said that none of the eight countries in Southeast Asia were meeting the global targets set to help prevent the planet’s temperature from rising by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius without significant market and regulatory changes.
According to Roque, the mere fact that President Duterte raised the issue during the UNGA means that the Chief Executive is taking the matter seriously.
“Isa kasi tayo sa parang Top 5 o Top 10 countries na pinaka-maaapektuhan ng climate change (I think we’re one of the Top 5 or Top 10 countries that will be most affected by climate change),” he said.
“Kung hindi nga po maaagapan ang climate change baka lumubog ang malaking teritoryo ng Pilipinas pagdating ng panahon (If we cannot do something about it now, then there’s a possibility that a large part of the country will sink in the future),” he added.
In 2017, despite his misgivings, President Duterte signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change Instrument of Accession. It is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change which deals with greenhouse gasses emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance starting in the year 2020.
Duterte had expressed doubts about the treaty mainly because of the fund needed. He said he found the treaty problematic as it does not state who will foot the fund of $5 billion and that those who will violate it will face no sanctions.
In 2018, Duterte blamed climate change on Western countries, saying they only called for a global effort to address climate change only after witnessing their actions’ impact on the environment.