PH leads vulnerable countries’ call for climate justice at COP26

Published November 12, 2021, 12:05 AM

by Manila Bulletin


The time to do some actual work on the ground and build a framework for climate justice is now.

That was the call made by Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III at the 26th United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, which is closing today, Nov. 12.

He sounded the call for climate justice, saying that countries that have “polluted and continue to pollute the earth’s environment must pay for the grants, investments, and subsidies needed for the most vulnerable countries.”

The Philippines is determined to be “a world leader” in efforts to cap global warming to not more than 1.5 degrees Celsius, he said.

The UN says this is an ambitious target considering that the earth is on a “catastrophic course” toward reaching a 2.7 degrees Celsius rise in temperature based on current national commitments on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Rather than dissipate efforts on fruitless debate, Dominguez said that the Philippines is presently engaging farmers and fishermen on executing localized action plans on climate change adaptation and mitigation that would be implemented in farms, rivers and waterways.

As Philippine delegation head, Dominguez proposed a three-point “blended approach” to make climate finance work.

One of the unfulfilled commitments of the wealthiest countries that are also the biggest polluters is to provide a $100 million financing facility annually. Blended finance involves the “sustainable orchestration” of grants, investments and subsidies so that optimal benefits may be attained.

Grants must be given in the form of educational or technical assistance programs that provide clear benefits to affected communities.

Investments “should focus on projects and activities that will unlock more business opportunities, create new jobs, and lead to energy self-reliance in the long run.” Subsidies will enable communities to bear the financial costs and risks of transitioning to climate resiliency such as, for instance, the shift to renewable energy as coal-fired plants are phased out.

The Philippines’ assertive tone reflects the disappointment among climate vulnerable countries on the lack of concrete follow-through action from the countries most responsible for global pollution. These countries have crafted a package of proposals that include “making clean power the prominent option globally, making zero-emission vehicles the new normal, creating markets and support for ‘near-zero’ steel and ensuring it is used in infrastructure projects globally, creating low-carbon hydrogen globally, and delivering climate-resilient and sustainable agriculture across the world by 2030.”

Other significant COP 26 resolutions involve the Global Methane Pledge on reducing methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030 that has garnered support from 100 of the UN’s 193 member states; and the commitment by 100 nations that account for 85 percent of the world’s forests to end deforestation and reverse land degradation to stop flooding, drought and wildfires.

Special focus will also be placed on protecting the rights of indigenous communities in regions hosting about 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity.

After the curtains fall on COP26, the reckoning begins. Will agreements forged during the summit usher in an era of effective response to global warming and bring about climate justice?