• PNoy to lead forum in Paris meet

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    President Benigno Aquino 3rd is set to leave the country on Sunday to embark on official working visits in France, Italy and the Vatican, Malacañang said.

    The President will lead the meeting of 20 “climate vulnerable” countries during the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) in Paris next week.

    President Aquino will be among 147 world leaders expected to participate in the COP21, which will be held in Le Bourget in Paris from November 30 to December 11
    Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. told the state-run Radyo ng Bayan on Saturday that the 20 countries represent 200 million people worldwide and the Philippines was chosen to lead the developing countries’ forum that was organized way back in 2009.

    “The forum aims to rally financial support for the general climate action from the public and private sectors. The move was meant to stem economic losses from the effects of climate change that are forecast to reach P400 billion by 2030,” he said in Filipino.

    Aside from leading some activities that have been lined up for the COP in France, Aquino is also set to meet with business groups and individuals in Paris to strengthen ties in the field of trade and commerce.

    An earlier report said the President will make report on the country’s accomplishments in mitigating the effects of climate change when he addresses the 21st COP in Paris next week.

    As world leaders are only given three minutes to speak during the forum, Aquino will be highlighting “what the Philippines had done, also what do we want in the Paris agreement, as well as what we would like to do further,” said Assistant Secretary Joyceline Goco, deputy executive director of the Climate Change Commisson.

    Goco said the relevance of climate change on human rights, especially that of women and children, and indigenous peoples will also be considered.

    While in Paris, Coloma said the President will meet businessmen representing French, Irish and Japanese companies to pursue further trade and investment cooperation.

    From Paris, he said the President will fly to Italy to meet President Sergio Mattarella in the latter’s official residence. He is also expected to meet Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

    A bilateral discussion is expected to focus on strengthening relations in the context of the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Italy.

    Also to be discussed is Italy’s participation in the Mindanao peace process through the Italian assistance to the Agrarian Reform Community Development Support Program as well as the Philippines-Italy Debt for Development Swap Program.

    Aquino will witness the signing of an air services agreement between the Philippines and Italy, which will pave the way for direct commercial flights between Manila and Rome.
    He will also meet with the Filipino community. There are about 171,000 Filipino workers in Italy.

    On December 4, Aquino will go to the Vatican, his first visit.

    Coloma said the President will take the opportunity to thank Pope Francis for visiting the country and to discuss with His Holiness the construction and rehabilitation efforts in Tacloban.

    Aquino will attend the unveiling and blessing of a mosaic sculpture of Our Lady of Peñafrancia. He is also expected to meet with Filipino priests in the Vatican.

     Thousands march on climate change
    Thousands turned out for climate change marches in Manila and Brisbane Saturday, part of a weekend of action across the globe to demand results from next week’s historic Paris summit.

    Religious clergy, students and activists marched through the Philippine capital calling for curbs on emissions to mute the impact of climate change, which is blamed for a spike in typhoons and extreme weather that has wreaked havoc on the nation.

    The march, attended by more than 2,500 people according to police and expected to build throughout the day, was one of a number of events scheduled in different parts of the country.

    The Philippines has been identified as one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change.

    “Protect our common home,” and “climate justice,” were written on the placards held aloft by the surging crowd.

    “We want to send a message to the rest of the world, especially the world leaders at the climate talks, to say that our survival is not negotiable,” said Denise Fontanilla, spokeswoman for the Asian People’s Movement on Debt and Development.

    Under heightened security two weeks after France’s worst terror attack, some 150 heads of state and government will on Monday launch a highly anticipated UN conference tasked with inking a post-2020 195-nation climate rescue pact.

    In Australia, where Melbourne on Friday kicked off the weekend rallies, some 5,000 people gathered in the northeastern city of Brisbane for a march led by Aboriginal and Pacific islander representatives and youth groups.

    “We are walking together because we know what it’s like to protect our country,” said Larissa Baldwin, from an indigenous climate youth network.

    Pacific islands are particularly at risk from the fallout of climate change, especially rising sea levels.

    “These are people that are calling for a just transition to renewable energy,” Baldwin told AFP.

    Senator Larissa Waters from the Greens party said the turnout, after tens of thousands marched in Melbourne, showed the strength of opposition to plans to develop more of Australia’s vast coal deposits.

    “They don’t want new coal mines, they don’t want massive land clearing, they actually want the environmental protection and job opportunities that comes from embracing clean energy,” Waters told national television.

    Organizers in Paris expect hundreds of thousands to take to the streets Saturday in Asian cities as well as Johannesburg and Edinburgh, with similar events set for Sunday in Seoul, Rio de Janeiro, New York and Mexico City.

    In Paris, French authorities cancelled two rallies following the onslaught by gunmen and suicide bombers which killed 130 people at restaurant terraces, a concert hall and the national stadium on November 13.

    Activists now plan to create a two-kilometer human chain along the original march route on Sunday. They will break the chain as they pass the Bataclan concert hall, where the worst violence claimed 90 lives, as a mark of respect to the victims.

    The goal of the Paris talks is to limit average global warming to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels by curbing fossil fuel emissions blamed for climate change.

    This week, the UN’s weather body said the average global temperature for the year 2015 is set to touch the halfway mark at 1 C.

    The Paris conference will gather some 40,000 people, including 10,000 delegates from 195 countries, plus journalists, observers, scientists, exhibitors and visitors.

    WITH AFP

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