‘No Other Treaty Is More Important Than The One For Mankind’s Survival’
Explanation of Vote on the Resolution Concurring in the Ratification of the Paris Climate Treaty, by Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph G. Recto
Mr. President, my dear colleagues:
First, allow me to thank and congratulate Senator Loren for pushing this treaty, not only in this chamber, but in the executive branch as well, and in other bodies, both local and foreign.
With her tireless work in promoting climate justice, it is hard to fault her many fans who view her as the real Miss Earth. May her reign be long and fruitful.
No other treaty is more important than the one which outlines the steps for mankind’s survival. By signing this agreement, countries of the world escaped writing earth’s death warrant.
The treaty’s main objective is to prevent the average global temperature from rising by 1.5 degrees Celsius. Beyond that is catastrophe. That is science, and not an alternative fact.
Stripped of its verbiage, the treaty’s rallying cry is for all of humanity to go not gently into a warmer future, but to rage, rage against rising temperatures.
But if Mother Earth is nursing a fever, we Filipinos should be among the last, and the least, to blame.
We rank 148th among 200-plus countries in greenhouse gas production. Our per capita emission is a little over one metric ton per year – one fifth of the global average of nearly five tons.
To compare, a person in the United States spews out 16 times more carbon dioxide, and in China, seven and a half times.
A Filipino’s one ton emission a year is puny compared to his neighbors, like a Singaporean’s 9.3 tons, a Malaysian’s 8 tons, and a Thai’s 4.4 tons. Ours is even lower than the per capita emission in Indonesia and Vietnam.
Despite accounting for less than one percent of global carbon emissions, we have pledged a reduction target higher than many of the worst polluters. Our act of contrition is greater than our sin.
Thankfully, our 70 percent reduction goal by 2030 is contingent on aid coming from the international community.
We have made it clear that this mitigation contribution hinges on the financial and technical resources that will be made available to us.
This is not climate mendicancy, but climate justice. We are victims, not the culprit here.
But even without the various funding facilities from countries who dangle their greenbacks as penance for their greenhouse gases, we should strive on our own to cut down our fossil fuel consumption.
This is so because while our emissions might be a speck globally, they loom large locally.
As all of us can see, a perpetual smog hangs over Metro Manila. Pollution robs us of billions in health costs – and our children of a good night’s sleep. We have created a Ventolin generation out of our asthmatic young.
The other manifestations are more pernicious. Typhoons are getting more fierce, fickle and frequent. We have become among the most vulnerable to climate change, on top of being among the most prone to disasters.
Although we have committed to cap our carbon footprint, it should not, however, mean that we must curb our economic drive.
When we decided to put a lid on our carbon dioxide emissions, it did not require us to limit our industrial output. There is no line in that treaty which says that progress must decelerate.
In the scheme of things, wealth creation and food production retain their primacy. Just because 10 grazing carabaos collectively belch and pass one ton of carbon dioxide annually does not mean that we have to rid our countryside of these beasts of burden.
The only imperative is that we must generate goods and services without generating too much greenhouse gases. Luckily, we have a large inventory of green sources of energy: wind, sun, geothermal.
We can even be carbon-neutral here in Congress. How? By installing a windmill in the Senate to harness the gale-force rhetoric, and a methane gas plant in the House to turn bellyaching into watts.
Mr. President, my dear colleagues:
I am voting yes to this resolution of concurrence for many reasons, too many to enumerate.
This treaty is earth’s survival manual. It is a declaration that the species that live together in this fragile planet shall not perish.
I am voting yes because a hundred years from now, when the vibrant voices in this chamber have become faint echoes of the past, I do not want this place to be remembered with a buoy which states that here lies in 30 feet of water the remains of the building that once housed the Senate of the Philippines.