By Victor V. Saulon

Stronger climate target sought

Posted on November 11, 2015

COUNTRIES that call themselves most vulnerable to climate change are calling for a stronger position to combat global warming, setting a target temperature for the planet that is below what many industrialized countries consider as safe for humanity.

During the past two days, experts advising countries that belong to a collaborative platform called Climate Vulnerable Forum said they had a “very positive experience” in trying to craft a strong position that can be presented to the climate summit in Paris next month.

“So far, it has been a very positive experience. We feel that the declaration coming out of the meeting here is very inspiring. It’s the direction the governments need to take [to] achieve an agreement in Paris. If in Paris they take the recommendation of the declaration we won’t have a lot to worry about it,” Wael Hmaidan, executive director of Climate Action Network International, said in an interview.

Mr. Hmaidan, who helps coordinate a global network of nongovernment organizations, said “vulnerable” countries are aiming for earth’s temperature to be below 1.5 degrees Celcius.

Temperature rises at no more than 2 degrees Celsius or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit have been the internationally accepted threshold above which scientists expect disastrous impact on the climate, causing droughts and other natural calamities.

“The spirit of the declaration is also about being visionary, very ambitious, not accepting the below 2 degree target as what humanity can do. We have a moral responsibility to save every country including the small islands -- which, for them, 2 degrees is not enough. We cannot leave anyone behind. We need to aim to stay below 1.5 which is technically possible. We need to make it politically possible,” Mr. Hmaidan said.

A Manila-Paris declaration is expected to be presented to Malacañang today, a few weeks before countries all over the world convene for the 21st Session of the Conference of Parties in Paris. They aim to forge a pact that will bind both industrialized and developing nations in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Saleemul Huq, another adviser to the forum, said the argument of vulnerable countries was that “a global leadership meeting in Paris that adopts a 2-degree goal will knowingly be writing off many people.”

“What we’re trying to do here is to bring the voice of the vulnerable countries, the one that have suffered the impact of climate change but... who are not causing the climate change problem, to the countries that are causing the problem who will meet in Paris and tell them that it is a very serious problem and that they will need to do so much more to tackle the problem of climate change otherwise we will suffer a lot more,” Mr. Huq said.

Mr. Hmaidan said all the countries that attended the forum in Manila were part of negotiating groups and their positions could help influence the decision of the other countries.

He said he was optimistic that a pact would be agreed upon next month or the world would miss an important opportunity that may not come again in the near future.

“We have unprecedented commitment to climate action from around the world. We have [the] US administration that is determined to solve climate change. We have Germany, France and other European [countries that] put climate change as a priority. China showed leadership on climate change by committing more money than the US to fight for climate change. [The] Philippines... showed leadership in the declaration that will be coming out here,” Mr. Hmaidan said, adding companies around the world as well religious leaders have made similar commitments.