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CHR spox: PHL participation in climate conferences abroad not in vain

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) is urging the Duterte administration to reconsider its refusal to send a Philippine delegation in climate change conferences, saying that Philippine participation is crucial in preventing adverse climate change effects to the country.

Lawyer Jacqueline Ann de Guia, spokesperson for CHR, was referring to the position made by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. who said that he will be rejecting all official participation in climate change conferences requiring air travel, considering that flights increases carbon footprint.

"Following Duterte's answer to UN's plea for yet another stronger stand against climate change—which he branded as more hot air—I am rejecting all official participation in climate change conferences requiring air travel," Locsin earlier said.

But in statement issued Friday, De Guia said: “The future of humanity is at stake and our country is among those that bear the brunt of this global phenomenon. Approximately 20 typhoons visit our country yearly. In 2013, we were ravaged by "Yolanda," the strongest typhoon in recorded history. We, therefore, encourage the government to take advantage of all avenues that aim to address the climate problem. 

“Our participation in global discourse is not in vain as it can also be an avenue to press for greater responsibility and accountability, especially from the primary contributors of global emissions,” De Guia said. 

“In 2015, as chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, the Philippines led the advocacy for global warming threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius. This ambitious goal is now enshrined in the Paris Agreement, which is meant to strengthen and guide efforts for global climate action,” she added.

Likewise, De Guia called on the Duterte administration to keep its commitment in preventing climate change and to actively implement policies to mitigate its impact, just like how CHR conducted a national inquiry to probe the alleged responsibility of major fossil-fuel companies to climate change and how this impacts the human rights of Filipinos.

“The participation of the Philippines in climate change talks ensures that we have a say on the climate discourse, which impacts us greatly. We hope that despite non-attendance, we will remain active in climate change prevention,” she said. — Llanesca T. Panti/RSJ, GMA News