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Statement of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. on the 26th Session of the Conference of the Parties (Cop26) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
THE HONORABLE TEODORO L. LOCSIN, JR.
Secretary of Foreign Affairs
26TH SESSION OF THE CONFERENCE OF THE PARTIES (COP26)
TO THE UN FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE
Here we are meeting: governments of all countries, representing peoples of all nations, and of none — migrants fleeing the scourge of climate change.
Here we meet, if not as friends, inescapably as indispensable partners even though we’re rivals outside this place. We can have no cause to quarrel here; we’re here for the one cause uniting us all.
There are no wrongdoers or right doers; finger-pointing is impossible. Point a finger at anyone, our thumb also points at us. We are all guilty of destroying the planet; some – like us -- in a small way because they are too small to do it big harm; but not for want of trying to do their worst. Many in a big way commensurate with their size.
Advanced countries with comparatively small populations are close to the net zero emission goal of this conference, but the paucity of their populations is not the reason for their success. They were as terribly polluted as big countries with big populations. The only difference is that Scandinavians did something about what we were all doing to our respective portions of the planet.
We all share the same blame for caring nothing about the planet --some more than others -- because we didn’t care to clean up after ourselves; we stayed deliberately heedless about dirtying this: the one and only home of the human race from which there is no escape: the cradle and soon to be grave of the human race.
Switching metaphors, here we meet on the only ship sailing in the sea of space, to do what must be done to keep it from taking in more water and sinking because each of us tore away what timber we could get our hands on from the hull and mast of the good ship Earth.
Here are no enemies, only friends in earnest for a common purpose: to keep everyone alive on a planet that offers a tolerable existence as opposed to none at all. We have each only ourselves to blame; unless we are blind to our reflection in the mirror before our face.
Speaking of face: climate change is not nature hitting back at us for hitting it hard. Nature is just there, a gift to mankind with or without a Giver whatever your faith or lack of it. It is not nature but our abuse of it blowing back on all of us.
Case in point: this pandemic of a virus. Wherefrom it came is a useful quest but only for the purpose of beating it back and locking it away. One thing is sure; we created the conditions conducive to its spontaneous generation. Sometimes — indeed most times — we won’t do anything about a threat staring us in the face until it bites us there. Exactly what happened with this virus and its bewildering mutations. Our first defense was instinctively face masks and face shields as much to hide our embarrassment as protect ourselves.
This is the day of judgment. Sadly, the judges are us — the planet’s destroyers. No one else. But it is a legal truism that no man can be judge in his own case. Yet this is the case we are to judge and provide the remedy.
More than any other threat that has tested — never mind humanity’s dubious moral fiber but indubitably its existence — climate change stands at the apex.
As a global issue, it “cross-cuts”— finally a useful word from the UN bureaucracy — every facet of existence before it all ends: human security, economic development, public health, water scarcity, food security, peace and war, forced migration, among others. And amalgamates them into one mortal problem impermeable as a billiard ball to solution. We are here to prove otherwise.
This is the world’s last-ditch effort to save the planet. Let’s get that Paris Rulebook done. Succeeding COPs will be fine-tuning solutions or accelerating them. Think of an airplane out of control on a downward spiral. The crash is coming; all we have is a thin hope that the same people responsible for this predicament, and now at COP26 will be the hands that land the plane safely. Please, we beg, let’s not succumb to the temptation to use this forum for recriminations instead of solutions; practical and never at others’ expense. Those who have greater capacity to absorb the brunt of hard solutions must take them and help those will less capacity, who even now are taking as much of the brunt as they can, without equivocation or purpose of evasion.
Incontrovertible scientific findings have defined the current climate change landscape. These are cold hard facts not subject to divergent opinions. The rise in the earth’s average surface temperature by more than 1 degree Celsius since pre-industrial times equates to melting ice sheets, glaciers and sea ice; sea level rise; ocean warming and acidification; extreme weather disturbances – literally Nature in spastic agony. Unlike past climate change we can credit to natural causes, present-day climate change and accelerated global warming were stirred by human hands.
We are here for the present; even more for the future. Today, all roads lead to Glasgow. We are here because we do not want a future crippled by largescale suffering — a tableau of death, homelessness, disease, hunger, thirst, famine, and blistering weather. By 2050, at least 1.2 billion people could be displaced due to climate change. We are those people and their suffering will have no borders.
President Duterte at the 75th UN General Assembly pleaded, “The climate vulnerability of my country the Philippines, an archipelagic state with a coastline of 36,000 kilometers situated along the typhoon belt of the Pacific, is undeniable. Our people, battered and bruised by brutal typhoons that come our way year after year, yearn for climate justice. Homes levelled, people drowned, lands forsaken, livelihood painfully lost — this is not a way to live. But for Filipino families, visited by at least 20 typhoons a year as a matter of course, this has become a lesser life lived.”
He was rightly indignant: “the greatest injustice here is that those who suffer the most are those the least responsible for this existential crisis… but here we are now at a critical tipping point, where failure to act leads to cataclysmic consequences for the whole of humankind. Developed countries must fulfill their longstanding commitment to climate financing, technology transfer, and capacity-building in the developing world. This a moral obligation that cannot be avoided.”
Let his words be the last of this statement, but to add the Philippines’ deep appreciation of the United Kingdom’s leadership and outstanding work, including its collaboration with partners, the UN and the Scottish government. COP26 is the last best hope of Earth. Thank you.