MANILA–The Senate may finally give its stamp of approval to the Paris Agreement on climate change after President Rodrigo Duterte signed earlier this month the Instrument of Accession to such international treaty.
Senate Paris Agreement Subcommittee Chairperson Loren Legarda expressed such optimism, noting senators approved on second reading last week her resolution concurring such accession.
“I hope the Senate approves that resolution on third reading this week,” she said Monday (March 13) at the “Charting Our Resilient Future: The Biodiversity and Ecosystem Approaches” forum in Metro Manila.
Such approval will signal the Philippines’ complete accession to the Paris Agreement, she noted.
Senators’ action on the resolution came less than a month after the Senate received, for its concurrence, the Instrument of Accession to the Paris Agreement.
Legarda raised urgency for action on the treaty, noting the Philippines is among nations most vulnerable to the changing climate’s impacts.
Such impacts as well as human activities are threatening not just people but Philippine biodiversity and ecosystems including products and ecological services from these natural resources, she noted.
“We have an abundance of natural resources but all these are at great risk,” she said.
Increasing onslaught of weater extremes as well as sea level and temperature rise are climate change impacts experts identified for the Philippines.
As Party to the Paris Agreement, Legarda noted the Philippines can better access international climate funds.
She said the country can also further influence decisions on such treaty’s implementation and maintain a leadership role in international discussions and advocacy on climate change.
“The Paris Agreement seeks lowering GHG emissions worldwide to keep this century’s global temperature rise well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts for limiting temperature increase even further to 1.5°C,” noted UN.
Such treaty also seeks strengthening countries’ climate change response.
Countries must collectively act on reducing climate change-driving GHG emissions as studies show a 1.5°C temperature increase will already put some 30 percent of the world’s species at risk for extinction, Legarda noted.
Desertification is already affecting agriculture and food security, she continued.
It can’t be business as usual – the way forward is realizing the time for talk is over, she said.
Last year, the Paris Agreement opened for signature with then-UN Secretary-Geneal Ban Ki-Moon convening a high-level signing ceremony in New York.
Then-environment chief Ramon Paje signed the treaty on the Philippines’ behalf.
“The next step, ratification, signifies a country’s intent to be legally bound to terms of the treaty at the international level,” noted UN.
UN said as of Feb. 16 this year, 194 parties signed the Paris Agreement while 132 parties already ratified this treaty.
Legarda’s March 9, 2017 press release said this senator’s been “working behind the scenes in pushing for the Philippines’ ratification” of the Paris Agreement.
Her efforts included explaining the Agreement to Cabinet members and coordinating with various climate organizations on the way forward, the press release noted.
The forum seeks catalyzing various sectors’ action for supporting Philippine commitment to UN’s Sustainable Development Goals particularly Goal 15.
Goal 15 promotes protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably managing forests, combating desertification, addressing biodiversity loss as well as halting and reversing land degradation.
During the forum, participants discussed pitfalls, successes and best practices for biodiversity and ecosystem services approaches to help better build up Philippine resilience.
Discussions among the forum’s participants also focused on ways of addressing hindrances to scaling up such approaches aside from providing an opportunity for multi-sector collaboration on the matter.
“The private sector has a key role in each of the questions facing us,” Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation president Rene Meily said at the forum.
He believes inputs generated during the forum will help develop solutions for better environmental protection and poverty alleviation.
Lutheran World Relief (LWR) vice-president for international operations Michael Watt urged the public to further help efforts for protecting biodiversity and ecosystems nationwide.
He noted the Philippines is among LWR’s focus countries due to richness and vulnerability of biodiversity nationwide.