Statement on COP27 outcomes: “WEAK COMMITMENT LEADS TO POOR IMPLEMENTATION”

November 22, 2022

Official statement of Aksyon Klima Pilipinas on the outcomes of the 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on the status of the Philippine government delegation at the climate negotiations in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt

21 November 2022

We, Aksyon Klima Pilipinas, regard the outcomes of the 2022 UN climate negotiations (COP27) in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt as falling short of the ambition and action needed to address the climate crisis.

This is not to say that COP27 did not produce important steps forward for global climate action. For the first time in history, Parties agreed to establish funding arrangements, and a corresponding fund, to address climate-related losses and damages (L&D). This is a significant victory for the climate justice movement, the result of decades of lobbying and campaigning by governments, communities, and organizations from the most vulnerable countries for the sake of people disproportionately affected by extreme and slow-onset climate change impacts. 

Complementing this is the establishment of institutional arrangements of the Santiago Network for averting, minimizing, and addressing L&D. A well-defined structure for a said network is critical for its eventual operationalization and provision of technical assistance for implementing solutions across different scales, especially in vulnerable nations such as the Philippines.

Despite these positive developments, we emphasize the need to urgently finalize the details on loss and damage finance, including the timelines for establishing the corresponding fund and identifying and mobilizing public and private funding sources. With the most vulnerable nations continuing to experience climate-related disasters now and in the near future, the urgency of operationalizing the L&D fund to provide support for high-risk communities cannot be understated.

We also express our disappointment in the lack of enhanced commitment by global leaders at COP27 to the phaseout of all fossil fuels in the final decision text. Instead of heeding global scientific reports, especially the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Sixth Assessment Report, many nations gave way  to the fossil fuel industry’s move to prevent a decisive pledge to move away from dirty energy sources.

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures, which is the ideal goal under the Paris Agreement, is impossible without drastic reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and in the use of all fossil fuels. Maximizing profits for those responsible for the climate crisis cannot come before the survival of billions of people worldwide, especially the marginalized sectors least responsible for this crisis yet are suffering the worst of its impacts.

Instead, the COP27 decision text stayed on par with last year’s outcomes in Glasgow, where nations are called to scale up current policies and strategies for transitioning to cleaner energy systems, “including accelerating efforts towards the phasedown of unabated coal power and phase-out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.” This lack of enhanced ambition and action is unacceptable at a time when climate actions are already drastically behind the rate of global climate change.

Progress on climate finance was also significantly inadequate – developed nations have failed to deliver on their collective pledge to mobilize USD 100 Billion every year by 2020 to support the climate actions of developing countries, and made another commitment at last year’s negotiations to double adaptation finance, while the operationalization of the L&D fund remains ambiguous. Current policies and outcomes are clearly not enough to meet the growing needs of nations like the Philippines for adaptation and mitigation, which are now in the range of trillions of dollars for the rest of the 2020s – not counting non-economic impacts such as loss of culture, loss of biodiversity, health, and worsening inequalities

No matter how much the Philippines adapts to climate change or builds resilience if GHG emissions remain at their current levels, global temperatures will continue to increase and trigger more extreme and destructive impacts. Without sufficient finance and other means of implementation mobilized by high-emitting developed countries, the country’s ambition under its Nationally Determined Contribution to reduce emissions by 75% within the current decade will remain beyond reach.

We reiterate our expression of respect to the COP27 Filipino negotiators for continuing to represent the interests of the most vulnerable and pushing for positions, aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement and our national development plans. We recognize the pivotal role that Filipino negotiators played in the L&D workstream since COP19, the leadership Atty. Vicente Paolo Yu has shown with G77+ China block and his much-needed advise to the Philippine delegation.

We however question the lack of bold statements by the government delegation regarding fossil fuel phaseout, especially since the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. is actively promoting the expansion of the country’s natural gas fleet. While we as a country have a right to pursue development without external interference in the context of the climate crisis, it is alarming for the Philippines to remain silent and keep supporting even more production and consumption of the same fossil fuels that are clearly harming its people. It is also inconsistent with and contradictory to the stated policy direction of the current administration toward a rapid, just, and equitable energy transition and climate action. 

Moving forward, we state once again our willingness to meaningfully engage with the Philippine government and provide support to its global and national activities, and trust that engagement with civil society will remain open, active, and genuine.. The outcomes of COP27 only matter to the extent they can be translated to the national and local contexts, which requires tremendous political will and sustained commitment by decision-makers for implementing the necessary solutions.

This is only possible through holding government agencies and officials accountable for any shortcomings in planning, implementation, transparency, and communication with stakeholders, as mandated under existing national laws and policies. This accountability must be demanded from our national leaders as much as from developed countries, fossil fuel corporations, and others responsible for the climate crisis.

As another round of climate negotiations come to a close, the focus now shifts to how the Philippines and the rest of the world will build on the gains and resolve the gaps remaining from COP27. As we have repeatedly seen, whether at the national or international level, weak commitments lead to poor implementation. And the ones who bear the heaviest burden of its effects are the most vulnerable. 

Sooner than later, this narrative has to change. Our survival as a nation and as humankind depends on it. That is no exaggeration or cliché; that is our reality.

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