MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte again voiced his misgivings about the Paris Agreement on Climate Change during the inauguration of a hydro-electric powerplant on Friday, December 9.
"We cannot deny that we need to argue for the cause of preventing climate change. Wala tayong away diyan. Ang problema, itong climate change [treaty] na binabatikos ako ng NGO for refusing to sign (We have no quarrel there. The problem is this climate change treaty which NGOs are criticizing me for not signing)," he said in a speech in Valencia City, Bukidnon.
The Philippines is among the over 190 countries who signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change in December 2015 but it is yet to ratify the deal.
Duterte insisted he is no climate change denier, saying global warming is being felt in parts of the Philippines, like Mindanao.
"The reason really for the so many destructions facing Mindanao is there is really a climate change. We are a few more degrees higher than the last century. The world is used to a certain temperature so this will really ruin – including mankind," he said.
He reiterated that he has a problem with the treaty's lack of sanctions for countries who violate carbon emission restrictions.
The agreement asks countries to volunteer how much of its carbon emissions it will reduce in the next decades to keep the world from warming by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.
For Duterte, the lack of sanctions means rich countries like the United States would likely get away scott-free with violating the treaty, while poorer countries like the Philippines will be pressured to follow the treaty.
"'Pag tayong maliit ang nagviolate, bibirahin ka ng malalaki and US is mahilig nang ganoon (If we small countries commit violations, the big countries will pressure us and US is fond of doing that)," he said.
"Ang sanction nila (Their sanction) is not found in the treaty. It could be found somewhere else – sanctions, trade restraints, ganoon ito, wala kayo dito, hindi kayo kasali dito (it's like this, you're not included here)," added the President.
It would be unfair, he said, for the Philippines to be pressured to limit its carbon emissions when it needs to industrialize. Rich countries like the US and China heavily emitted carbon as it industrialized.
"Because we need the industries. Alam mo, matagal na ang Pilipino naghirap (You know, the Filipino has been poor for so long)...Do not peg me at this level because I need to industrialize," he said.
He seemed to say he wants provisions out of the treaty.
"There are many things which I vetoed dito. Sabi ko, huwag ninyo gawin 'yan (I said, don't do that) because I will not accept that. I will just throw it out," said Duterte.
Cabinet meetings have been spent debating on the Paris climate change agreement. Duterte finally agreed to abide by the agreement after a majority of his Cabinet voted in favor of it.
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.