President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday emphasized the need to urgently address climate change, noting that the successive typhoons in the Philippines should serve as a reminder that it should be taken seriously.
In his speech during the virtual 37th Asean Summit, Duterte recalled how Super Typhoon Rolly (international name Goni) ravaged many parts of the country despite interventions made by both local and national governments.
“More than two weeks ago, the Philippines was battered by Typhoon Goni – and if I must tell you, we are now suffering in the midst of the storm of Typhoon Ulysses. With timely disaster preparedness measures, we were able to save many lives. But the typhoon left a trail of destruction in infrastructure and property. This represents a setback for our development agenda, particularly in the affected regions,” he said.
Duterte cited the importance of enhancing disaster risk reduction and management to prevent damage and destruction, especially in countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
“This calamity is yet another stark reminder of the urgency of collective action to combat the effects of climate change. We must therefore further enhance our cooperation on disaster risk reduction (and) management to reinforce our capacities, both at the national and regional levels,” he added.
The President also raised the need to hold accountable industries responsible for causing carbon emissions.
“We must amplify our voices to demand climate justice from those most responsible for this existential challenge we face today. Developed countries must lead in deep and drastic cuts in carbon emissions,” he said.
Duterte warned of grave consequences if climate change is not addressed.
“They must act now, or it would be too late. Or if I may say addedly, it is too late,” he said.
Developed countries must also deliver on their commitment to finance and invest in innovative adaptation solutions so other countries can have “a fair shot at progress and sustainable development,”
“This is their moral responsibility from which there should be no escape. Otherwise, it would be great injustice – a double blow to those who bear the brunt of the adverse consequences of their past actions and present inactions,” he said.
Last September, Duterte urged parties of the Paris Agreement to honor their commitment to climate change.
He said climate change must be addressed with the same urgency as the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
In 2017, Duterte signed the Paris Agreement, which aims to reduce the emission of gases that contribute to global warming. (Azer Parrocha/PNA)