COPENHAGEN:  GMA  SEEKS NEW GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSION STANDARDS

[PHOTO AT LEFT COURTESY OF MALAYA ONLINE - At climate meet. President Arroyo is welcomed by members of the Filipino community in Copenhagen at a meeting with them at the Hilton Hotel Ballroom.]

MANILA, DECEMBER 19, 2009 (STAR) By Paolo Romero - President Arroyo on Thursday pressed for a speedy and collective action by all nations to set new greenhouse gas emission standards, saying participating countries in the Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen, Denmark must not leave the historic summit “without a deal.”

Speaking before other top delegates to the climate change summit at the Bella Center in Copenhagen, the President warned the hour is late and the need to do something about global warming is urgent.

Taking her scheduled slot a few speakers after French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Mrs. Arroyo urged developed countries of the world to own up to their responsibility of cleaning up the air being the main source of greenhouse gases.

“We come to Copenhagen in partnership with other nations to find a way to meet the harsh impacts of climate change and avert a global crisis,” Mrs. Arroyo said. “The problem will certainly take years to solve, but we need to start the process now.”

“We cannot afford to leave Copenhagen without a deal,” she said.

She said developing countries are the least responsible for the global warming but they suffer the most from its ill-effects.

She said the Philippines emits only 1.6 tons of greenhouse gases per capita, while the world’s average is six tons per capita, adding that recent studies suggested that emission must be brought down to three tons.

“We are one of the top 12 countries identified by the United Nations at risk from climate change,” she said. “Two recent typhoons cost the Philippines $4 billion or 2.7 percent of GDP. Over 600,000 hectares of farmland were destroyed,” Mrs. Arroyo said.

“The same typhoons affected nine million people and claimed 900 lives.”

But for an equitable outcome, she said, developed countries must lead in reducing emissions “under the principle of common but differentiated responsibility.”

Mrs. Arroyo also appealed to rich countries to establish a financial mechanism that will facilitate a seamless transfer of technologies necessary to fight the global warming phenomenon.

She said equally essential to the establishment of global funds from which developing countries can draw is their replenishment from time to time when there is need for it.

“Humans started the problem,” she said. “Humans can solve it.”

STAR COLUMN:

Battle for climate change in Copenhagen FROM THE STANDS By Domini M. Torrevillas (The Philippine Star) Updated December 19, 2009 12:00 AM

The United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen may have ended just hours ago, so this columnist does not yet know how the summit ended – joyfully, hopefully, or a fiasco? Yesterday’s papers reported uncertainty about the outcome of the meeting of 100 heads of state and government called to seal an accord that would roll back a terrifying rise in the earth’s temperature.

The meeting would see, among other issues, the commitments of developed countries to aid developing countries in financing adaptation and mitigation programs, and how much governments have observed the Kyoto Protocol. To put it simply, whether they have reduced the volume of pollution – emissions, if you may – that they have contributed to the burning of the world atmosphere.

The Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Change was adopted by consensus at the third session of the Conference of the Parties (COPs) in December 1997. It contains legally binding emissions targets for Annex I (or developed) countries for the post-2000 period. The European Union and its member states ratified the Kyoto Protocol in late May 2002. The United States did not sign it.

Literature on the protocol say that by arresting and reversing the upward trend in greenhouse gas emissions that started 150 years ago the protocol “promises to move the international community one step closer to achieving the Convention’s ultimate objective of preventing ‘dangerous anthropogenic (man-made) interference with the climate system.’”

“The developed countries commit themselves to reducing their collective emissions of six key greenhouse gases by at least 5 percent. This group target will be achieved through cuts of 8% by Switzerland, most Central and East European states, and the European Union (the EU will meet its target by distributing different rates among its member states); 7% by the US, and 6% by Canada, Hungary, Japan, and Poland. Russia, New Zealand, and Ukraine are to stabilize their emissions, while Norway may increase emissions by up to 1%, Australia by up to 8%, and Iceland 10%. Each country’s emissions target must be achieved by the period 2008-2012. It will be calculated at an average over five years.

The cuts are to be made in six gases — carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH2), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).

Actual emission reductions will be much larger than 5%. Compared with emission levels predicted for the year 2000, the richest industrialized countries (OECD) members will need to reduce their collective output by about 10%. This is because many of these countries will not succeed in meeting their earlier non-binding aim of returning emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000; their emissions have in fact risen since 1990. While the countries with economies in transition have experienced falling emissions since 1990, this trend is now reversing.

The Philippines is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol. The President is attending the Copenhagen meeting, but reports on her report have not reached us as of this writing.

* * *

Sen. Loren Legarda spoke at the assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union on the sidelines of COP15 (Conference of Parties) saying, “We are asking for climate justice,” said the UN ambassador for climate change and disaster reduction.

She challenged US President Barack Obama, to “walk his talk and to correct the misdeeds of past administrations in the US, and to take up the cudgels for the developed world to help vulnerable developing nations.”

Loren was at the conference as co-chair of the Philippine delegation to the UN summit conference. Reports reaching us from Copenhagen say that the senator is “a strong voice on behalf of the developing countries in the bargaining with the rich countries for their respective contributions to the heavy costs of saving the world from climate change annihilation.”

She chairs the Senate committee on climate change. She is one of the earliest advocates of climate change. Through her foundation, the Luntiang Pilipinas, she has planted over two million trees in towns, cities and along roads and highways. The abundance of leafy and shady trees planted at the mini-park in the Senate grounds and at the Luneta are her doing.

Her strong voice on environmental concerns led to her appointment by the UN as an ambassador or spokesperson in various international conferences around the world on climate change issues.

In Copenhagen, she reflected what social scientists have been saying, that it is Third World countries that are suffering from the disastrous consequences of developed countries’ industrial and technological behemoths. She said that mainly agricultural Third World countries do not have the factories, the cars and the consumptive capacity to produce the carbon emission that is now choking the world and causing global warming.

“The highly vulnerable countries like the small island states and the Philippines are now suffering irreversible losses and irreparable damage due to climate change,” she said.

The recent typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng brought unprecedented floods and landslides. Unless the world’s leaders agree to a program of action to mitigate climate change, the Philippines is certain to face worse catastrophes in the future, said Loren. What she failed to mention is that domestic atrocities, i.e. those created by local loggers and squatters blocking waterways, have contributed and continue to contribute to the vast floods and landslides down mountains and hilltops.

The Philippines, says Loren, has taken steps to fight climate change. It passed the Climate Change Act, principally sponsored by Loren as chair of the Senate committee on climate change.

The Act creates a national climate change commission that is tasked with adopting a program of action that would undertake initiatives and projects throughout the country to reduce the risks from natural catastrophes, like rising seas, landslides and floods.

In Copenhagen, Loren coordinated with the president of Maldives, Mohammed Nasheed, whose country is threatened with being wiped out by rising waters. Loren was in Maldives months earlier as a representative of the UN to personally look into the effects of climate change there.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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