• COMMENTARY ON COP21 AND THE PHILIPPINES

    The illusion of 70%

    1

    THIS is a cautionary tale. It is 11:59pm /December 9, 2015. You fall into a deep slumber. You dream you are the passenger in the 5th car of a 5-car collision. The 4th and 5th cars are metaphors for countries similarly situated as the Philippines in the Climate Change Debate, i.e., vulnerable and shouting out for attention on the world stage; the collision is the continuing saga of the global interplay on Climate Change issues; the car is one’s environment. Your car is badly damaged as a result of the collision.. You feel the loss, the damage.

    You now view one of your proudest assets as being brought to a state of great disrepair, perhaps you may eventually declare it a total loss. Or seek out someone of higher authority to make that declaration for you.

    There is confusion, and there arises an immediate sense for confrontation. You want someone to pay for the damage you assess you incurred. The big question now is: Who will pay for it; who should pay for it? The drivers in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th cars sympathize with your anger, your frustration.

    But the finger-pointing begins right there and then. No one seems to want to acknowledge moral responsibility, whether full or partial. Much less, assign legal responsibility. Especially the driver of the 1st one, a two-ton truck. Everyone at the scene of the incident sympathizes with you – yes it is tragic, they feel your pain [the participants all say, including the pedestrian kibitzers now gathered around]. As everyone else equally feels having incurred a loss and damage of varying degrees, there is no consensus on who should bear ultimate financial responsibility. And before you know it, everyone starts to leave the scene of the incident one by one. The drivers, the police investigator, the witnesses, the kibitzers and hawkers; with departing messages left like “my insurance representative will be in touch with you,” “call my lawyer,” “here’s my card and number, call me next week,” “if you wait a little longer, the media will arrive.” And as the scene empties out, you unexpectedly experience self-doubt– did you perhaps contribute to the incident by some facet of negligence. Were you observing traffic regulations at the time of collision; do you rate yourself a responsible driver overall? Then in a flash, you awake. Welcome to the COP 21 meeting in Paris, France.

    Climate Change is no longer an illusion to the majority; the science has overcome the myth. But are the goals being debated upon partially illusionary in themselves?

    The Philippines is without doubt a country in self-doubt, consistently ranked as one of the top most vulnerable countries subject to extreme conditions caused by Climate Change. No one disputes this fact anymore in this modern age. But how do we organize our battle plan versus Climate Change on the world stage. Let us study the immediate scene of the incident.

    On October 1, 2015 a formal document was directly forwarded to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) office in Bonn, Germany. It was entitled, “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) Submission of the Republic of the Philippines.” The UNFCCC is the United Nations-designated international multilateral institution charged with overseeing the global engagement on Climate Change. For this year’s Conference of Parties (COP 21) meeting in Paris, all participating countries [over 180 countries in varying roles]were requested to submit their respective INDC for consolidation into the Climate Change talks ongoing.

    As of this writing full text documents from COP 21 to reflect the conclusion of agreements have yet to be released or circulated to the public. But one thing is certain, the talks and negotiations are CONFUSING and CONFRONTATIONAL. Just like the S-car collision incident illustrated. The negotiations appear to be evolving into a North-versus-South, a haves-versus­have-nots struggle, with Climate Change morphing into the single rallying point for the many declared economic and environmental dislocations amongst differing national boundaries around the world. The currency employed is the level of greenhouse gas {GhG) or carbon dioxide (C02) emissions standard. Whereby those countries perceived suffering the most DAMAGE from Climate Change profess the most innocence as to actual liability, and thereby further claiming LOSS compensation from those other countries perceived to be most culpable and liable for emitting the highest or much higher GhG emissions levels. The compensation level comes in two tranches: 1) the moral accountability, often called Climate Justice, and 2) the financial accountability, often referred to as Climate Finance.

    For this purpose, we shall limit the parameters to the Philippine conditions. As an investment banker of longstanding, one acquires the discipline to first analyze the legal documentation and definition of terms, to be followed by the negotiation posture. These, in pursuit of a final objective. The first benchmark appears to stand on weak foundation. The Philippine INDC was submitted under the authorship of former Climate Change Commission Commissioner Lucille Sering [aided by Climate Change Office Deputy Executive Director Joy Goco]. By sequence, Goco announced that Sering resigned her position in September 2015. Yet, a covering letter dated October 1st [attaching the INDC]submitted to the UNFCCC on its face was signed by Sering. The INDC document itself was not signed by the President of the Philippines, as Chairman of the Commission; for such a critically important international document outlining official commitment/s of the Republic, the Chairman’s imprimatur should be required. The Commission is composed of three Commissioners, plus the President of the Philippines as its Chairman; only the Chairman can call for a meeting of the Commission. At the moment, in addition to Sering’s resignation Commissioner Sonny Alvarez’s term lapsed in October 2015, with newly-appointed Commissioner Emmanuelde Guzman serving the unfinished term of resigned Commissioner Yeb Sano. In further contrast there is no showing of a Climate Change Commission en banc meeting convened for the purpose of approving the INDC, and authorizing its release and/or submission to the UNFCCC. In the Investment Banking jargon, therefore, the document forwarded may have appeared formal in form, but it likely may not have been official in character.

    Early on in this administration, President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd correctly determined that perhaps the better utilization of state resources toward combating Climate Change effects over the country’s economy and environment was to address the more pressing and more impacting implementation of ADAPTATION options available to the government, national and local. The President ordered for the immediate enhancement and expansion of Disaster Risk Reduction and Management measures nationwide. Effectively then, the President set and directed the Climate Change response policy more towards the Adaptation pillar in the Climate Change Act of 2009,with the MITIGATION pillar garnering a second degree of emphasis given the limited financial resources. For definition of terms, Mitigation refers to all efforts and means at reducing GhG emissions. Adaptation refers to all efforts and means to address Climate Change issues other than GhG emissions reduction.

    So it is with great surprise, as one reads through the INDC, that in the whole document there appears only one quantifiable measure of targeted achievement being committed to the UNFCCC — greenhouse gas emissions reduction. Specifically, Sering’s INDC set an extremely ambitious goal: “The Philippines intends to undertake GhG (C02) emissions reduction of about 70 % by 2030 relative to its BAU scenario of 2000-2030.”

    End of Part 1.
    To be concluded tomorrow

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    1 Comment

    1. Dominador D. Canastra on

      Thank you for trying but still failing to explain the idiocy of Paris and before that Kyoto. Like anything, the BS Aquino regime’s efforts in putting up a useful Philippine stand against the big polluters amount to ZERO.