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Bacolod City, Philippines Monday, January 25, 2016
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with ERROL A. GATUMBATO
OPINIONS

The PHL and the Paris climate agreement
1st of two parts

Several parts of the country are now experiencing a prolonged or extended dry period, commonly known as El Niño, and its magnitude is already felt with the occurrence of dry spell and drought in affected areas.

Agriculture productivity is now deteriorating and this situation may likely last during the first half of the year, according to the government's weather bureau. This is quite unfortunate, because, as early as this January, we started to feel the inconveniences of the warm weather and it is forecasted to escalate during summer.

The change in climatic pattern, or popularly called climate change, is basically a global phenomenon, primarily due to excessive emissions of greenhouse gases. The accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has irreversibly damaged the Earth's ozone layer. The ozone layer helps regulate the climatic season of different countries. In addition, our natural ecosystems, which support natural processes, have similarly deteriorated, to the extent that they could no longer cope with the changing environment.

For these reasons, the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change has evolved after a series of meetings, conferences, and negotiations among member-states of the UN during the historic Earth Summit in Rio Janeiro in 1992.

The main purpose of the UNFCCC was to prevent hazardous anthropogenic circumstances from affecting the climate system, by stabilizing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. However, the UNFCCC failed to set binding targets in terms of emission reduction from the parties to the convention. It only provided mechanisms on how international treaties, in the form of protocols or agreements, can be negotiated to define binding emission reduction of greenhouse gases.

Since the evolution of the UNFCCC in 1992, numerous Conferences of the Parties were held on how they would be able to specifically address issues associated with climate change. The Kyoto Protocol was passed in 1997 and it required developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The protocol, however, received criticisms, because it allowed developed countries to offset their carbon emissions by buying carbon credits from developing nations that have implemented climate change mitigating initiatives.

Through the years, several others agreements and commitments have been adopted by the COP. These included the Bali Action Plan in 2007, the Copenhagen Accord in 2009, the Cancun Agreement in 2010, and the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action in 2012. The Philippines, being one of the signatories of UNFCCC, has actively participated in all these conferences. The country has enacted Republic Act 9729, or the Climate Change Act of 2009, which eventually led to the formation of the Climate Change Commission. This policy requires the mainstreaming of climate change into government policy formulations and the establishment of framework strategy and program on climate change in the Philippines.

While serious international negotiations were initiated and agreements were formulated, various countries in the world have experienced the impacts of climate change. The Philippines was not spared with the occurrence, one after the other, of several catastrophic natural hazards and risks during the past years. Even some developed nations encountered devastating calamities, like hurricanes and tornadoes. The Earth's temperature keeps increasing all these years, which is very detrimental not only for tropical countries, but including those in polar region.

Pressed with these realities, another Conference of the Parties was held in December 2015 in what is now dubbed as the historic Paris Climate Change Conference, where the 2015 Paris Agreement was debated and eventually approved.

As a result of the conference, the Philippines is now crafting its National Adaptation Plan of the Paris Agreementů(to be continued)*


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