PH climate change pledge: 70% reduction, but give us the money

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Something must be wrong with the state of the Philippine press. The three biggest broadsheets all had banner headlines on the United Nations-led climate change agreement signed by nearly 200 countries in Paris the other day. The Philippine Star, controlled through intermediary firms by the Indonesian tycoon Anthoni Salim, gushed: “Climate deal unveiled, a historic turning point.” The Philippine Daily Inquirer wrote: “Paris talks in last stretch.” The Manila Bulletin’s: “Landmark climate deal up for approval.”

Surprisingly, the, ahem, best newspaper in the country, this newspaper, didn’t have any news report on the “landmark, historic deal.” Its banner was on Fil-Am boxer Nonito Donaire’s victory over a Mexican challenger.

My beef with the three papers that did report the climate change deal is this: Why am I reading all these dispatches from Paris by foreign news agencies, which would be the same stories I’d be reading if I were an American or an Australian living in New York or Sydney? A newspaper in one country by definition talks of what interests the citizens of that country.

The agreement’s significance was that the participating countries – especially the big two polluters China and the US – agreed to curb the increase in global temperature to less than 2 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to even limit it to 1.5 degrees.


As important as that agreed-upon target is that every nation had pledged or will pledge exactly by how much they would reduce pollution in their countries. These will even be recorded, and made publicly available, in an official UN registry.

So naturally, as a Filipino, the information I wanted was: What did this government pledge for climate change? I’m worried you see, given the fact that we learned only a year later after his 2011 Tokyo meeting with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that the President, in effect, promised the Islamic insurgents their own nation-state, called Bangsamoro.

Three countries can actually solve the problem on their own. The Philippines is ranked 40th in the list, 27 countries above it are not included in the chart for brevity. Source: http://www.globalcarbonatlas.org/

Three countries can actually solve the problem on their own. The Philippines is ranked 40th in the list, 27 countries above it are not included in the chart for brevity. Source: http://www.globalcarbonatlas.org/

I read twice, thrice the articles on it by the three broadsheets, and searched their newspapers: There is no report at all what the hell did the Philippines under Aquino pledged to contribute to reducing global warming.

A Facebook friend, dean of the Ateneo School of Government Antonio La Viña had several-on-the-ground posts on the conference, including selfies with delegates from all over the world on his FB wall. It was high drama, his posts implied. He and his fellow “negotiators” were burning the midnight oil on the draft agreement, negotiating with other countries to accept it. Wow! Did the Philippines, which accounts for a miniscule 0.3 percent of the world’s CO2 emissions, just save the world?

The Philippine Daily Inquirer’s columnist who seemed to be in Paris devoted an entire article on La Viña’s excitement that the term “climate justice” was in the text of the draft agreement. (Yes it was mentioned once in the 7,344-word agreement and in a by-the-way-tone: “noting the importance for some of the concept of “climate justice.” I wonder what his excitement over the term is about, as it’s an old term and there was even a Climate Justice Summit in 2000.)

But darn, there was no report from them what the Philippine pledge was. I couldn’t even find what this government pledged in behalf of all of us on the website of the Commission on Climate Change.

It took a lot of googling and several calls to my sources to find out what the Philippine pledge was. The Philippines and many other countries, including the US and China, had submitted their promises in October and November in preparation for the Paris convention. The Philippines submitted its pledge on Oct. 1.

Finally, I read the Philippine pledge: It smacks of this government’s and its NGO allies’ kind of empty braggadocio. And worse.

This government pledged to reduce its pollution levels 70 percent by 2030. (Technically, all emissions from all sectors, including the result of changes, land use, land use change and forestry, and including those from industrial, energy and agricultural emissions.)

That is really the kind of promise Aquino gave to the MILF in 2011 in his obsession to win the Nobel Prize.

In comparison, Thailand pledged to lower its emissions only by 20 percent, and Indonesia by 29 percent. The three biggest polluters that make up half of carbon emissions in the world – China, the United States and India – pledged reductions of 24 percent, 15.5 percent and 6.4 percent, respectively.

Are we pretending to be a developed country? The crux of the controversy here – everyone wishes for a clean planet – is that non-industrial countries, and China and Russia include themselves in this category, allege that the industrial countries led by the US polluted the planet many decades ago, and that pollution is the price we now have to pay for those countries’ economic growth. Why should the developing countries, especially China and India, be handicapped now in their industrialization? I myself am wondering why the US pledged only a 15.5 percent reduction in its emissions, when it is the world’s richest nation that can afford to reduce its pollution drastically, as Europe in the past decades has done. Germany, for instance, accounts for only 2.2 percent of CO2 emissions, while Italy and France account for a mere 0.9 percent each.

We contribute only 0.3 percent of the global CO2 emissions, yet we pledged to reduce that by 70 percent. (Our problem of pollution is really limited to that in Metro Manila.)

The government must have a reason for that 70 percent pledge. That hollow-sounding promise has been graded “adequate” by environmental groups, such as the Climate Action Tracker. Expect Aquino to boast about that.

I don’t think there is any other country that pledged a reduction by anything more than 30 percent. What would that make us look like? High-school braggarts?

What is really embarrassing for us a nation is that the pledge is conditional “on the extent of financial resources, including technology development and transfer, and capacity building that will be made available to the Philippines.”

This government, in effect, told the world: “We’ll reduce our pollution by 70 percent. But give us the money to do that.” That’s really like the BBL Aquino promised the MILF, if you believe credible reports that some Malaysian slush fund was offered to this Administration if it passed that bill into law.

What a government!

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7 Comments

  1. How can Indonesia – in S.E. Asia pledge reduction – when every year they set fires to the forests ? The smoke arrived in Singapore and Cebu.
    Hello ! Wake up !

  2. This government is crazy and ridiculous. Saan sila kukuha ng 70 pct emission ??? ni wala pa nga tayo sa industrialization…. kakaunti pa lang ang ating industrial manufacturing aside from power plant that we needs very badly for industrialization.. PINAIRAL NA NMN NI ABNOY AND KABOBOHAN NIYA….. at kayabangan…Sinungaling talaga na Presidente.
    naku……………………

  3. The 0.3 per cent of global CO2 emissions has no relation to the 70% pledge reduction in pollution. It is the calculated % of CO2 pollution from the Philippines compared with total emissions from all countries. The 70% is only related to the absolute number of CO2 emissions from the Philippines. For example, if our CO2 emissions is 1000 tons of CO2 per year, the pledge is to reduce it to 300 tons per year.

    The 70% could be wrong but the number must have been calculated by one of our technocrats, not P-Noy, who is probably as ignorant as most people on this subject. However, we can not expect him to understand everything under the sun. If it’s not in line with similar countries, his subordinates have not served him well or the other countries are simply smarter than us. Remember, it is also conditional on a number of things.

    Can China, USA and India really solve the problem on their own as suggested. This is easier said than done. In the USA for example, the commitment may not mean anything if the Republicans win the election in 2016.

    It is easy to be critical after the fact. What is the better alternative then? If only 30% of the pledge from each country is achieved, is this not much better than not having the Paris agreement at all?

  4. Leodegardo Pruna on

    What happened to typhoon “NONOY” is what will happen to the 70% pledge carbon reduction. NONOY was changed to NONA. For what reason? Ask, P-Noy and his spokespersons. CoP21 showed how this administration thinks and do things. Bribery is the name of the game. God bless the Philippines.

  5. As usual, the PNoy administration is only good in big talk. According to sources, there will be financial aid offered to those countries which will commit reduction of emissions to succeed in the undertaking and apparently the bigger the commitment, the larger the financial aid. Ergo, in order to get as much money, the Philippines thru their smart delay-gates offered a 70% reduction, a ridiculous but impossible percentage for reduction. What will the PNoy administration do to those coal powered plants the oligarchs of PNoy like the Aboitiz, Alcantara and others are building all over the country? Will this dreadful administration cancel those projects/ Maybe until now PNoy does not know that coal is a hell of a big producer of carbon emissions, a huge contributor of climate change and a big polluter.

  6. Hindi climate change ang problema ng pilipinas,sobra ang population,lahat ngayon ng kabundukan at lupain pinagtataniman ay pinag-aagawan na ng mga ganid,na gustong gawin lahat subdivision at mall!saan pa kaya makakakita ng gubat at mga puno ang mga bata!