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The road does not end in Paris

12:01 AM December 16, 2015

I commend the French leadership of the 21st Conference of Parties and I admire the efforts of the Philippine delegation and civil society to push for an ambitious, fair and binding deal. It is laudable that our country was able to also champion the 1.5-degree-Celsius cap and incorporate human rights, ecosystems integrity and “climate justice” into the text. But how I wish to have a goal lower than 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The agreement may become a spark of hope to save the planet, signaling the age of a great power shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources that Nature has been offering. How would the inclusion of the phrase “climate justice” apply to thousands of lives lost and damaged property worth billions of dollars due to extreme weather conditions?

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Historical responsibility, liability and issues on compensation are not addressed, hence, most vulnerable countries which experienced massive losses and damages may be on the crossroads. Ambitious as the agreement may seem, the fact is there remains a great imbalance—no clear finance mechanism for loss and damage. This agreement is useless if countries are unable to ratify and implement it—a challenge that lies in the hands of governments and their people.

What if governments fail? The power of the grassroots shall reclaim their power and they themselves shall change the system for the best of humanity. There are provisions for enhanced actions prior to 2020, but what can we do from 2016-2020 to save the planet? Many things and changes can be done in the span of five years, let’s not wait for 2020. This is the road through Paris, and the agreement must not end in Paris.

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Who among the candidates in the next elections would fully embrace the challenge of the Paris agreement? Anyone? Where would the principle of equity and common-though-differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances, bring us?

—RODNE R. GALICHA, steering committee member, Aksyon Klima Pilipinas, [email protected]

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TAGS: climate change conference, Climate deal, COP21, Paris
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