PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE TOP diplomat of the Philippines appealed to developed countries to take concrete action and fulfill commitments as typhoon-prone nations suffer the most from climate change.   

“Those who have greater capacity to absorb the brunt of hard solutions, take it and help those with less capacity, who even now are taking as much of the brunt as they can,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. said in a recorded video during the 26th United Nations (UN) Climate Change conference (COP26).   

He quoted President Rodrigo R. Duterte who said at the 75th UN General Assembly last year: “Year after year, we yearn for climate justice, people drown, lands forsaken, livelihood painfully lost, this is not the way to live, but for Filipino families, visited by 20 typhoons a year as a matter of course, this has become a lesser life lived.”  

“The greatest injustice here is that those who suffer the most are those the least responsible for this existential crisis.”  

The Philippines is one of the countries at highest risk for climate-related disasters, though it is responsible for only 0.33% of global greenhouse gas emissions, based on global knowledge portal Climatelinks. 

Mean temperatures across the country are expected to rise by 1.8°C to 2.2°C in 2050, according to state weather agency PAGASA.  

The National Integrated Climate Change Database Information and Exchange system said that this could lead to annual losses in gross domestic product (GDP), changes in rainfall patterns and distribution, droughts, threats to biodiversity and food security, sea level rise, public health risks, and endangerment of vulnerable groups   

Mr. Locsin said the forum must not focus on finger-pointing but on practical discussions. “Here are no enemies, only friends in earnest for a common purpose: to keep everyone alive on a planet that offers a tolerable existence as opposed to none at all.”  

“Developed countries must fulfill their longstanding commitment to climate financing, technology transfer, and capacity building in the developing world,” said Mr. Locsin.   

“This is a moral obligation that cannot be avoided.”  

COP26, being held in Glasgow, Scotland until Nov. 12, opened Sunday with heads of states, delegates, and campaigners from around the globe set to negotiate a coordinated response to the climate emergency. 

The meeting is being heralded as the last best chance to avoid devastating temperature rise that would endanger the lives of billions of people and disrupt the planet’s life-support systems. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan