Lopez to represent PH in Morocco climate summit

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ENVIRONMENT Secretary Gina Lopez will attend the Climate Change Conference in Morocco to give President Rodrigo Duterte a clearer report on the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change, Malacañang said on Friday.

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The climate change conference will be held in Marrakesh, Morocco from November 7 to 18. The Paris climate deal entered into force on Friday.

The climate deal’s formal implementation comes after 73 out of 195 countries ratified the agreement on October 25, reaching the 55 percent of countries required for its entry into force.

The Philippines signed the agreement on April 22.

But when Duterte became president, he maintained his stance against ratifying the Paris agreement, arguing that climate mitigation, including reducing the country’s carbon emissions, would hamper economic activity and growth.

The President was referring to the previous administration’s pledge, the “Nationally Determined Contributions,” to cut the country’s carbon emissions by 70 percent by 2030.

On November 1, the President denied he had rejected the Paris Agreement, saying he only had misgivings on the climate deal.

“I will follow what my advisers tell me. If Gina Lopez would tell me… it’s good,” Duterte said.

The Paris agreement is the first-ever pact binding all the world’s nations, rich and poor, to a commitment to cap average global warming by curbing planet-warming greenhouse gases from burning coal, oil and gas.

“Humanity will look back on November 4, 2016, as the day that countries of the world shut the door on inevitable climate disaster,” UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa said.

While cause for celebration, “it is also a moment to look ahead with sober assessment and renewed will over the task ahead,” she said.

This meant drastically cutting emissions in the short term, “certainly in the next 15 years,” Espinosa pointed out a day after a UN report said current trends were steering the world towards climate “tragedy.”

By 2030, said the UN Environment Program, annual greenhouse gas emissions will be 12 to 14 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) higher than the desired level of 42 billion tons.

The 2014 level was about 52.7 billion tons.

2016 is on track to become the hottest year on record, and carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere passed an ominous milestone in 2015.

A major doubt looms over the process, however. US Republican nominee Donald Trump, has threatened to “cancel” Washington’s participation in the agreement if he is elected president on November 8.

“Amid all the chaos going on around the world, this agreement shows that on climate change we actually are witnessing an era of global cooperation and consensus,” said Mohamed Adow of Christian Aid, which represents poor people’s interests in the climate forum.

The pact undertakes to hold global warming to “well below” two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels, and to strive for 1.5 C.

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