Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte agreed on Monday to sign the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, backtracking from his previous stance that he would not support a deal he believed would hurt the country’s industrialisation hopes. “After so much debate, the climate change (agreement) will be signed,” he told journalists at the presidential palace.
“It was a cabinet decision, I’ll go along with it and sign it.” Duterte had previously said he “will not honor” the proposed restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions, arguing that such “limitations” could stymie the country’s industrialisation.
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Duterte has been criticised for saying he would not recognize the country’s commitments to the Paris pact, which came before his big victory in the May election.
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His biggest critics include his mentor and former president Fidel Ramos.
Ramos, who has quit his job in the Duterte administration as special envoy to China, is a supporter of Duterte but has recently turned critical of the maverick leader, including over his position on the Paris accord.
Ramos was most upset about Duterte’s hostility toward old ally the United States, which he lashes out at almost daily, mostly over its concerns about his bloody war on drugs.
Washington was not spared of Duterte’s diatribes on Monday either, even in comments about the climate pact.
He said industrial countries were known not to honor obligations to contribute to a United Nations Green Climate Fund “especially America”, which he said “has not paid its dues”.
Nearly 200 countries, including the Philippines, adopted the Paris agreement in December last year to combat climate change, aiming to transform the world’s fossil-fuel-driven economy within decades and slow the pace of temperature rise to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius.
The deal formally came into effect on Nov. 4 but has yet to be ratified by the Philippines.
Manila has committed to reduce its emissions by 70 percent by 2030, but it will need technical and financial support to achieve it.
The Philippines is among countries that suffer most from the impacts of climate change, such as strong storms including Super Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013, which killed more than 6,300 people.