MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday, November 7, that he will now back the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, after a near-unanimous approval by his Cabinet, and he will be signing the historic pact.
"After much debate, iyong climate change [agreement], pipirmahan ko because it's a unanimous vote except for one or two [Cabinet members]," Duterte said.
(After much debate, I will sign the climate change agreement because it's a unanimous Cabinet vote, except for one or two members.)
Duterte announced his decision during a speech at the oath-taking of the new officers of the National Press Club in Malacañang Palace.
In July, the President hinted he was not going to honor the agreement. (READ: Duterte won't honor int'l pacts on carbon emissions)
On Monday, the President still expressed some concern. "Ako ngayon hindi talaga ako kampante (Me right now, I'm not really convinced)– of course we are now bound if we sign it; but on matters of enforcement, you see if it's a binding treaty, there has to be a sanction," he said.
"Read [the document] again and again and [you will] never find that there is a sanction, even in the matter of contributing the money to the common fund," he told his audience.
Now in force
After Duterte signs the agreement, it will have to be ratified by the Senate.
The Paris Agreement is the first-ever deal binding all the world's nations, rich and poor, to a commitment to cap global warming caused mainly by the burning of coal, oil and gas.
The pact undertakes to limit global warming to "well below" two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial Revolution levels, and to strive for 1.5°C.
It entered into force last Friday, November 4, after the threshold for ratification – by 55 countries responsible for 55% of emissions – was reached in October.
It came after 175 countries, including the Philippines, signed the deal at a ceremony in the United Nations last April.
The deal itself was agreed upon by a record 195 countries in a landmark meeting in December 2015, during the COP21 climate conference in France.
The climate deal has been hailed as the first universal, legally-binding agreement on climate change, and countries pledged to reduce the amount of carbon they emit and to ensure their citizens are prepared for the effects of global warming.
The Philippines has pledged to cut by 70% its carbon emissions by 2030 – a target conditional on assistance from the international community.
Duterte's earlier misgivings about the deal triggered critical reactions from both allies and opponents, most notably former President Fidel Ramos, who in an op-ed said that the country needs to ratify the deal or Filipinos will suffer from climate change. (READ: Ramos, Duterte and the Paris Agreement)
With the country not yet ratifying the pact, it will sit as an observer in the Morocco talks on the Paris agreement, which will start Monday in the city of Marrakesh. – With reports from Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com