5 key COP21 issues Pinoys ought to look out for

PARIS – As the 21st Conference of Parties (COP) begins in Paris, developing countries are ready to “go to battle” and ensure a strong climate agreement comes out in the biggest climate conference to date.

After a controversial version of the draft text came out last October that was described as “imbalanced” and said to favor only rich countries like the United States, developing countries fought tooth-and-nail to get their issues back on the table.

Negotiating blocks like G77 and China, Like Minded Developing Countries (LMDC), Least Developed Countries (LDC), and the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) submitted proposals to insert what they deemed were crucial and “non-negotiable” provisions for a climate agreement.

The Philippines, for its part, has been at the forefront ensuring that human rights, women’s rights, and indigenous rights are included in the agreement.

As a legally binding climate agreement comes tantalizingly closer, developing countries must ensure that their issues do not get sidetracked and not taken up only as token issues by the rich countries.

For the Philippines, as for many other developing and least developed nations, COP21 is crucial as it may decide whether or not we can survive climate change.

Here are some of the key issues in the climate negotiations that Filipinos should look out for:

1. Human rights, women’s rights, indigenous peoples rights – Human rights is a key issue in the negotiations to ensure that all actions taken as part of the agreement respect, protect, promote, and fulfill human rights.

This includes ensuring women and indigenous peoples are included in all processes, just transition for workers that creates decent works and quality jobs. It also ensures that human rights are taken into account in adaptation efforts. We need to ensure that human rights is overarching in order to apply to the whole agreement.

2. Adaptation – The Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change and we feel climate change impacts the most. Adaptation is important to ensure that we become resilient to disasters and climate change impacts.

The higher the expected temperature increases, the more efforts we need to do to adapt. We need a commitment by all countries to increase efforts to support adaptation national plans of countries, including financial assistance and technical support.

3. Loss and Damage – While there are some climate change impacts we can adapt to, there are already climate change impacts beyond our capabilities to adapt. Whatever we do now, there will be losses and irreversible impacts.

We need loss and damage separate from adaptation and we need it to promote concrete actions that will assist poor and vulnerable countries who are already facing these climate change impacts.

4. Mitigation – The cause of human induced climate change is Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, mostly carbon dioxide. Much of these emissions come from the use of fossil fuel such as in transportation and energy generation. To address climate change, we need to significantly reduce our emissions.

We need to phase out the use of fossil fuel as early as possible and make the switch to renewable energy.

5. Finance – The work to solve the climate crisis will be difficult, especially for developing and least developed countries. We need to ensure that the $100 billion commitment of rich countries will be met.

We must also make sure that the allocation for this budget is 50% mitigation and 50% adaptation and that there must be transparency in the process.


This article was originally published in Interaksyon.