Stakes are high for Philippines in Cancun

Nov. 30, 2010 at 3:09 PM
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MANILA, Philippines, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- The Philippines will push for climate change adaption financing at the Cancun, Mexico, meeting on climate change, yet it is not optimistic about the outcome of the talks, officials said.

Mary Ann Lucille Sering, vice chairwoman of the country's Climate Change Commission, said the Philippines wants clarification on the $30 billion pledged last year at the Copenhagen, Denmark, conference by developed countries as "fast-start" climate aid to the developing world.

"The accord clearly stated that it's for small islands and least developed countries, which effectively takes out the Philippines from the prioritization," she said ahead of the Cancun talks, Manila's BusinessWorld newspaper reports. "That was one of our criticisms of the accord. That's why we are going through consultations."

Sering said the Philippines also wants "direct access" to the long-term commitment of $100 billion in funding per year by 2020 pledged in Copenhagen.

Sering is leading her country's delegation of 51 to Cancun just a week after she was sworn into her position. She replaced Heherson T. Alvarez to resolve what was considered a festering leadership crisis in the Philippines' climate commission.

The Philippines accounts for only 0.27 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, the World Bank says.

But Manila, with a population of about 11 million, is at risk of extreme flooding in the next 40 years mainly because of the effects of climate change, says a report released last month by the Asian Development Bank, the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the World Bank.

The report warns that even if the government implements proposed flood infrastructure plans, the scope of areas in Metro Manila that could be flooded by 2050 could increase by 42 percent.

"The stakes are high for us, because without an international agreement on mitigation and adaptation, the Philippines is left on its own to fight the serious challenge of climate change," said Antonio G.M. La Vina, an environmental lawyer based at Manila University who is part of Sering's delegation to Cancun.

While La Vina said a binding agreement on emissions cuts was not likely to come out of Cancun, he was optimistic delegates would agree on a framework for climate change adaptation to developing countries, financing for agriculture and REDD-Plus financing (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries).

For his part, Philippine President Benigno Aquino, in declaring Global Warming and Climate Change Consciousness Week on Sunday, urged Filipinos to adjust their lifestyles to prevent further damage to the environment.

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