DESPITE misgivings, President Rodrigo Duterte signed on Tuesday the Paris Agreement seeking to cap the rise in global temperatures and mitigate climate change.
In a news conference, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella confirmed that Duterte had signed the “Instrument of Accession,” a document signifying the Philippines’ ratification of the 2014 climate change deal.
Senator Loren Legarda, the Senate environment committee chairwoman who officially received the instrument Wednesday, welcomed Duterte’s decision and expressed confidence the Senate would be able to concur on the Paris Agreement on Climate Change before Congress goes on break on March 17.
“Our ratification would allow us access to the Green Climate Fund. This is what we have been waiting for—for developed countries that are the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases (GHG) to aid vulnerable, low-emitting nations like the Philippines,” she explained.
The Paris Agreement is the first legally binding global pact on climate change, signed by almost all countries. To date, 133 of the 197 parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change have ratified the accord.
Duterte earlier refused to ratify the landmark climate deal, which aims to limit carbon emissions to contain global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, past which point the temperature rise would become irreversible.
Failing to stop global warming could trigger extreme weather events, including more storms as monstrous as Supertyphoon “Yolanda,” longer droughts, deeper winters, severe flooding, and other phenomena that pose threats to life, food security and political stability in vulnerable nations.
The President had worried that the agreement’s carbon emission caps could inhibit the Philippines’ road towards industrialization, but changed his mind and then announced that he would ratify the pact just as it came into force.
In his letter to the Senate dated February 28 and released by Malacañang on Wednesday, Duterte said he had found it “advisable to accede to the Paris Agreement and seek the Senate’s concurrence thereto” after examining the text.
“The Agreement provides that developed countries continue their obligations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to provide financial assistance to developing countries with respect to both climate change mitigation and adaptation,” he added.
In a statement, Climate Change Commissioner Manny de Guzman said he was overjoyed with the President’s ratification of the Paris Agreement.
Legarda said she expected no opposition from her colleagues on the agreement. She declined to say if she had the numbers needed for the concurrence of the Senate but noted the strong call from senators across party lines to ratify the agreement.
Senate concurrence requires a vote of two-thirds of the Senate, or at least 16 senators.