Duterte can’t mock climate change now


    JUST a few months ago, President Rodrigo Duterte was non-committal on the issue of global climate change, even mocking it as a problem of the industrialized nations, blaming the West for its huge contribution to the degradation of the planet. Lately, however, and in the face of the serious devastation of a large swathe of Luzon caused by the series of typhoons, most notable of which are “Rolly” and “Ulysses,” the President has taken a second look at climate change. Note that Ulysses alone accounted for 69 deaths in Luzon, and P1.5 billion in agriculture and infrastructure losses.

    In his recent messages to his colleagues in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Duterte underscored the importance of regional cooperation and capacity building against the onslaught of climate-related disasters: typhoons, floods, drought, exceedingly high temperatures, etc. Whereas before the Chief Executive used to mock the Paris Accord, he now pins his hope on cooperation among the community of nations to tackle this common problem of humanity.

    With US President Donald Trump, another non-believer of the Paris Agreement, facing defeat in the last US presidential elections with his global warming stance contributing to the road to perdition, and with Duterte doing an about-face on the issue, perhaps both the US and the Philippines are now on the right track, policy-wise, on the question of the changing planet.

    ‘… perhaps both the US and the Philippines are now on the right track, policy-wise, on the question of the changing planet.’

    After every destructive earthquake, after every devastating super typhoon, our officials, media and opinion influencers are always one in uplifting the national spirit by touting the Filipinos’ innate quality of resilience, the pliant-as-the-bamboo culture. But now, environmental groups and netizens are appealing to the government to stop glorifying the narrative of Filipino resilience and instead work on genuine climate action.

    Over the weekend, calls for rescue and donations for communities ravaged by floodwaters have been drafted by demands for better environmental protection.

    One group, the Aksyon Klima, said: “This is an unfortunate reality that the Philippines, one of the countries at highest risk to the climate crisis, can expect moving forward in the absence of transformative actions.” Greenpeace Philippines said Duterte “should not just hold industrialized nations to account for the climate crisis, but also fossil fuel corporations that are largely responsible for the carbon emissions that contribute to the rapidly warming planet.”

    Greenpeace country director Lea Guerrero writes: “The fossil fuel industry is composed of the world’s largest and richest companies that rake in profits by the trillions of dollars. The poorest and most vulnerable communities reel from calamities caused by increasingly stronger typhoons.”

    Other groups lauded the move of the Department of Energy (DOE) to impose a moratorium on the establishment of new coal-fired power plants. They proposed further moves in this regard, such as changing the nation’s energy policy from the use of fossil fuels, such as coal, to that of giving focus on renewable energy such as solar, wind, thermal, and hydro.

    With environmentalist Joe Biden at the helm of the world’s most powerful nation, the US can very well help the Philippines in pursuing genuine reform in energy utilization and conservation