The recently elected president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, has once again made headlines, not regarding his controversial drug policy but because of his decision to not ratify the Paris climate change treaty. This is seen as a change from his pro-environment stance he has shown during the first days of his presidency.
Duterte declared during his first Cabinet meeting that we were warned several years ago that climate change is real, and now we are faced with its consequences. He even emphasized the particular dangers the Philippines are exposed to because of climate change, referencing Typhoon Haiyan.
His pro-environment statements coupled with the crackdown on shady mining firms has initially endeared green groups to a Duterte presidency. However, this all changed when he recently announced that the Philippines will not ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change.
“Now that we’re developing, you will impose a limit? That’s absurd. It’s being imposed upon us by the industrialized countries. They think they can dictate our destiny.”
To those who were familiar with his statements during the presidential campaign, as early as March, this decision is not very surprising. At that time he expressed his resentment over how certain developed countries were not reducing their fair share of carbon emissions. They are even passing the burden to others when historically they are the most responsible for the current climate change crisis.
Duterte’s main concern is that the Paris Treaty, with its imposed targets for carbon emissions, will limit industrial development, at a time when he plans to create several industrial zones around the country. Thus the golden age of Philippines’ development will be severely restricted by the Treaty.
“What they cannot understand about this treaty in Paris is that there is no treaty to honor. We have not signed the treaty. We just committed to draft a treaty – a provision, so that we can be able to present our game plan and sign the treaty.”
The sentiment of having a right to pollute in order to develop has been echoed by other less developed countries around the world. The Philippines is in an especially hard situation as one of the nations that are most susceptible to extreme weather events caused by climate change. For this reason, the previous government signed the Paris Agreement and pledged to cut carbon emissions by 70 percent by 2030 on the condition that the country will receive financial and technological resources. A pledge that is now interfering with Duterte’s plans for industrial development.
What do you think the Philippines should do? Should less developed countries have a right to pollute in order for them to develop?
Image source: Wikimedia