MARRAKECH, Morocco — The Philippine delegation to the 22nd Conference of Parties here will be singing a slightly different tune this year at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change compared to the past few years.
“We will be emphasizing (the) Common But Differentiated Responsibility and historical responsibility in these negotiations particularly because the Paris rule book must be able to answer our development needs,” said Antonio La Vina of the Ateneo School of Government, who acts as consultant to the Philippine delegation this year.
La Vina was the head of delegation during the COP 21 in Paris where the historical Paris Agreement was signed by 196 countries.
“We hope the Paris Agreement is able to serve both a global need to address climate change but it won’t work if it is not addressing local development needs. The success of the Paris Agreement will be useless if we don’t localize it,” La Vina added.
From CBDR to human rights to CBDR?
The Philippines has always been regarded a strong voice at the UN climate negotiations. The Philippines has also had a strong stand on CBDR and founded a negotiating group called the Like Minded Developing Countries. The LMDC negotiate together and have been known to insist that developed countries must do more share in cutting emissions. LMDC includes oil producing countries like Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Venezuela
CBDR is a principle that recognizes the different contributions of developed and developing countries to environmental problems. Specifically in the UNFCCC, CBDR takes into consideration historical responsibilities of countries based on greenhouse gas emissions. The United States, Japan, and European Union, for example, have more responsibility than the Philippines because historically, their GHG emissions are way higher. For many environmentalists, CBDR is synonymous to climate justice as it makes those who are responsible for manmade climate change accountable to those who have not contributed much but are experiencing its impacts.
Former Climate Change Commissioner and head of Philippine delegation Naderev “Yeb” Sano led the LMDC group and was known for his emotional speech in 2013 at COP 19 in Warsaw. “Developed country emissions reductions targets are dangerously low and must be raised immediately,” he said.
However, this changed a year later when Sano was not able to attend COP 20 in Lima and the Philippines suddenly pulled out of the LMDC. The Philippines then became the chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, an advocacy group of vulnerable countries pushing for 1.5 degrees celsius target. The Philippines also started working into putting human rights language inside the agreement.
Then President Benigno Aquino III, in his speech at the UN Climate Summit in New York in September 2015, veered away from the usual LMDC stand on CBDR and said everyone “has to do everything they can to address climate change, without first waiting for their neighbors to engage in action.”
Last year, La Vina insisted on the importance of human rights and why the Philippines was fighting hard for it.
“Climate change is creating human rights violations. A global climate regime without human rights in the center does not make sense,” he said.
Now, with the new administration, the Philippines seems to be going back to a song it used to sing. This is not surprising, however, given President Rodrigo Duterte’s statements on how developed countries must do its share of mitigating carbon emissions more than developing countries like the Philippines.
Upholding CBDR is crucial to ensuring climate justice. However, at the helm of things are still people –people whose lives are threatened because of climate change. CBDR and human rights must go hand in hand if any government wants to protect its people from the biggest threat facing humanity.
Originally published at Interaksyon