MANILA, Philippines – The climate battle is an uphill trek. With our current commitments to reduce our carbon emissions, we are not on track to achieve the principal aim of the Paris climate agreement: keeping global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees Celsius, while pursuing 1.5 degrees Celsius.
This is according to a recent report entitled Equity and the Ambition Ratchet, which was produced by a broad coalition of civil society organizations, groups and social movements worldwide. For the Philippines, signatories of the report include Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), Catholic Stewards of Creation Incorporated, Gitib Incorporated, and Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ).
According to the study, real cooperation among all nations is necessary in realizing the goals of the Paris Agreement. This will not be possible without equity on both the mitigation and adaptation fronts of the climate challenge.
According to the report, the first round of nationally determined contributions (NDCs) – the proposed reductions in domestic greenhouse gas emissions that countries presented at the Paris climate summit in 2015 – implies at least 3 degrees C of warming.
Fortunately, the Paris Agreement offers ways of securing increased ambition, while taking due account of “means of implementation and support” and being conducted “in the light of equity.” (READ: Fighting climate change: What is the Paris Agreement?)
In June 2017, President Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the climate deal, saying that it would have been unthinkable that an international agreement could prevent the United States from conducting its own domestic affairs. The Philippines' Climate Change Commission (CCC) is deeply troubled by Trump’s decision.
“The US, as the second largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and more importantly, one of the world leaders, would have played a key role in creating the much-needed global paradigm shift towards a more climate-resilient and climate-smart future,” said CCC in a statement.
Despite the Trump administration’s chilling threat to abandon the Paris Agreement, the report continued, the 2018 Facilitative Dialogue – a key part of the agreement’s ambition ratcheting mechanism – has to be more than a meaningless talk shop.
The reality is that, if the Paris temperature limits are not to be breached, all countries need to take on more mitigation than currently pledged.
Current commitments not enough
The COP19 outcome most relevant to climate impacts was the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage (WIM). It was largely considered a milestone, but there is still so much work to be done to commit finances to aid countries suffering from the consequences of changing climatic conditions. (READ: PH leads call for innovative climate finance for vulnerable countries)
It was not until COP21 that another milestone was reached, which is of course the Paris Agreement. While the language of this deal was politically strong and has been considered a historic victory by participating member states, the present shape of these commitments is not enough to meet those targets. To put it simply, we are not reducing emissions fast enough.
Earlier this November, diplomats gathered again for COP23 in Bonn, Germany. This was considered by many advocates as the perfect opportunity for our leaders to be reminded of our global climate goals, particularly on climate adaptation, and push for higher ambitions.
The first COP hosted by a Pacific Islands country, Fiji, highlighted the need for negotiators to stand up for the climate-vulnerable by realizing the mandate of the WIM and committing to a 5-year work plan and adequate finance for loss and damage.
With the current emission reduction targets set us on a pathway to 2.7-3.1 degrees Celsius, the report illustrated the urgent need for country leaders to step up their ambition and adopt robust low-carbon pathways and long-term decarbonization strategies.
Higher ambition pushed for 2018
Raising ambition means different things to different counties. The study noted that it is essential that wealthier countries urgently and dramatically deepen their domestic mitigation. And, if they are to contribute their fair shares of the responsibility, they must also support additional actions outside their own borders.
While many developing countries meet or exceed their shares, they still have to do much more: the 1.5 degrees Celsius objective requires profound action in developing countries that cannot realistically, or fairly, be expected without meaningful levels of international support.
According to the report, the challenges here are expected to crystalize around the 2023 Global Stocktake, but the 2018 Facilitative Dialogue will set important precedents. Thus, it must pioneer a process for assessing the adequacy and fairness not only of collective ambition, but of individual country contributions as well.
Senator Loren Legarda, head of the Philippine delegation to COP23, made a strong call for climate justice to empower and enable the most vulnerable countries to fight back through capacity and finance.
"This necessitates not just enhanced ambition, but the steely resolve to act now. The window of opportunity on achieving the 1.5ºC goal of the Paris Agreement is fast closing and any delay will result in the irreversible," the senator warned. – Rappler.com
Roy Joseph R. Roberto is a Climate Justice Fellow of Climate Tracker (CT), a group of online writers and climate advocates globally. He was named as Youth Champion for Climate Action (SDG13) by the 2030 Project in the Philippines.
Mickey Miguel-Eva is the Regional Campaigns Communications Officer for Asia with Climate Action Network International (CAN), a global network of over 1,100 NGOs in over 120 countries working to promote government and individual action to limit human-induced climate change to ecologically sustainable levels.