UN talks to implement Paris climate pact open
UN talks to implement the landmark Paris climate pact opened in Marrakesh yesterday, buoyed by gathering momentum but threatened by the specter of climate change denier Donald Trump in the White House. Diplomats from 196 nations will flesh out the planet-saving plan inked in the French capital last December.
“We have made possible what everyone said was impossible,” said French environment minister Segolene Royal at the opening ceremony, in which she handed over stewardship of the climate forum to Moroccan foreign minister Salaheddine Mezouar. Royal announced that 100 countries have ratified the Paris Agreement, which entered into force last Friday, a record time for an international treaty. Amid growing alarm at the gathering pace of climate change and its impacts-rising sea, deadly storms, drought and wildfires-the world’s nations have moved quickly over the last year to tackle the still-growing problem. But as 15,000 negotiators, CEOs and activists settle in for the 12-day talks, all eyes are on the United States, where voting Tuesday could thrust Trump into the White House.
When it comes to global warming, the stakes could hardly be higher, President Barack Obama has warned. “All the progress we’ve made on climate change”-including the Paris pact, decades in the making-”is going to be on the ballot,” he told TV talk show host Bill Maher on Friday.
The Republican candidate cannot carry out his threat to “cancel” the still-fragile accord, but a Trump victory could cripple it, experts here agree. Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton has vowed to uphold Obama’s domestic energy policies and international climate commitments. In Marrakesh, front-line diplomats must roll up their sleeves and work through scores of procedural issues that will make the difference between success and failure. They have informally set 2018 as the deadline for laying that groundwork, Royal told journalists the day before the talks opened.
Philippines to ratify climate pact: Duterte
President Rodrigo Duterte said yesterday that the Philippines will ratify a global pact aimed at taming climate change, , reversing his opposition to the historic United Nations agreement he previously dubbed “crazy”. In announcing the decision to sign up to the Paris Agreement, Duterte said he still had misgivings but his cabinet members overwhelmingly disagreed with him.
“After so much debate, the climate change (agreement), I will sign it because it was a unanimous vote except for one or two (in cabinet),” Duterte told reporters. The Philippines last year signed up with the rest of the world to the pact, which aims to cap global warming at well below two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and 1.5 Celsius if possible, compared with preindustrial levels.
However shortly after taking office on June 30, Duterte criticized the commitments made by the administration of his predecessor Benigno Aquino. Those commitments were to cut emissions of the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming by 70 percent by 2030 from 2000 levels, on condition it got support from developed nations to convert to clean technologies.
When he railed in July against the Philippines’ commitments, Duterte said the agreement would stop developing countries from industrializing by burning fossil fuels-as rich nations had done. “There is no treaty to honor. We have not signed the treaty,” Duterte said then. “If you will not allow us to reach parity, you are already there and we are still here, then I’m saying that’s crazy. I will not agree to that.”
However the Paris Agreement does indeed allow for developing nations to continue to burn fossil fuels. Duterte’s cabinet members, some other lawmakers and one of his most important political allies, ex-president Fidel Ramos, said following those comments that they would try to educate the president about the Philippines’ climate future.
Committing to the pact is a two-step process. The first occurred with the initial pledges and agreement in Paris last year. The second is a formal ratification. The pact went into force last week after 55 parties to the UN’s climate convention (UNFCCC), responsible for at least 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, ratified it. In little over four months in office, Duterte has created an international reputation for incendiary rhetoric that is not necessarily backed up by action. He has repeatedly threatened to tear up the Philippines’ long-standing alliance with the United States and eject American forces from his country, although this has not happened.
MARRAKESH: COP22 president Salaheddine Mezouar attends the opening session of the COP22 climate talks. — AFP