Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who won the Presidency in May this year, by promising law and order, and economic development, has demanded up front compensation to meet Paris Climate Commitments – otherwise his country will focus on increasing coal generation capacity, to facilitate continued economic progress.
He said he was angry with that ambassador and “wanted to kick him” when the diplomat asked him if the Philippines could maintain its carbon emissions.
“I said, ‘No. I cannot tell… You don’t do it that way, Mr. Ambassador. (Your country) had reached the apex (of industrialization) and along the way put a lot of contaminants and emission and went ahead in destroying the climate,’” the President said.
“We have not reached the age of industrialization. We’re now going into it. But you are trying stymie (our growth) with an agreement that says you can only go up to here,” he continued.
“That’s stupid. I will not honour that,” he added.
When the ambassador told him that the Philippines was a signatory to the agreement, Mr. Duterte said he replied: “That was not my signature. It’s not mine.”
Former(?) Philippine Climate Commissioner Lucille Sering was quick to defend the President, claiming the question which triggered the outburst was “improper”.
MANILA — President Duterte’s statement on his refusal to honor the Paris Agreement on climate change could have been a reaction to an improper question from an ambassador, according to
Sering, who expressed hope the Philippines would not pull out of the Paris agreement, said Mr. Duterte might have been irked when the ambassador— still unnamed— asked him about the Philippines maintaining a certain level of carbon emissions, as that amounted to an imposition.
“In a diplomatic perspective, you don’t ask that question because that’s an imposition on us. It’s a diplomatic faux pas to even ask that question,” Sering said in a phone interview.
The Philippines’ commitment to reducing carbon emissions was conditioned on support from the international community, she said.
“What we said was we can’t reduce unless we’re supported,” she said.
“In short, if you don’t give us any support, we will continue our sustainable development, our economic development that may rely still on dirty but cheap [energy]. But if you want us to use clean, make those energy sources cheaper,” she added.
The Filipinos I know are strong willed and proud. Nobody pushes them around.