PH ramps up COP 28 proactive discussions, spotlights climate change solutions
As a country highly vulnerable to climate change, the Philippines’ participation in the global climate change discussions at the 28th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) is seen as crucial to the country’s climate resilience agenda.
“Climate change is a global problem that affects all nations,” President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said, noting that the COP28 is the biggest platform for the international community where all stakeholders will have all-hands-on-deck to address climate change and help mitigate its impact, adding that, “Our continued engagement in the UN and other related international missions allows us to stand with other nations to build consensus and galvanize concrete and inclusive action against this threat.”
The Philippine delegation to the 13-day COP28 event includes negotiators in seven workstreams, and other delegates from national government agencies, local government, non-government and people’s organizations and the business sector. Aside from mandatory meetings, and negotiations for country commitments to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions and avert climate change impacts, discussions and other bilateral meetings will be held during the conference, which takes place in Expo City, Dubai from November 30 to December 12, 2023.
The Head of the Philippine Delegation, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo Loyzaga, emphasized that the Philippines will take on a whole-of-government approach in addressing climate change. Aside from the DENR and the Climate Change Commission (CCC), the Department of Finance, Department of Energy, Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Migrant Workers, Department of Agriculture, National Economic Development Authority, Department of Health, Department of Trade and Industry, Philippine Commission on Women and National Youth Commission are also part of the Philippine delegation. She added that significant participation by members of the Philippine delegation in these discussions is critical as the outcomes from COP28 will directly impact the climate mitigation and adaptation programs being implemented in the Philippines, which is among nations most affected by the impacts of climate change.
Secretary Loyzaga is the official representative of President Marcos as Chairperson-designate in the CCC—the government’s sole policy-making body on matters pertaining to climate change. Created under Republic Act 9729, the CCC is headed by the President as its Chairperson.
“Climate finance is a huge theme in COP 28,” Secretary Loyzaga said. “We are working in seven major negotiating work streams: loss and damage, climate finance, adaptation, the global stocktake, the just transition, especially of our labor towards a renewable energy future, but also specifically our concerns about reskilling and upskilling our workforce. And finally, mitigation and Article 6 (of the Paris Agreement), for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction and avoidance.”
COP28’s critical importance to the country becomes more evident as the first-ever “Global Stocktake,” which is undertaken every five years, is set to conclude during the conference. This assesses how far the world has come in tackling climate change and discusses how policymakers and stakeholders can strengthen their climate policies and commitments towards accelerated actions to meet the targets of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Among the priorities of COP28 is the establishment of a Loss and Damage Fund for countries greatly impacted by climate change. In the Philippine context, the said funding is translated as financing for social development and resilient infrastructure.
“The Loss and Damage Fund is extremely important because there are climate-related adverse impacts that are beyond our ability to finance,” said Loyzaga, citing that sea level rise and the massive destruction brought about by super typhoons that hit the country from Yolanda (Haiyan) to Odette (Rai) have crossed multiple regions “so the cost of really trying to recoup and recover from this is way beyond what we are able to afford as a country.”
The DENR chief added that the Loss and Damage Fund is meant to cover all the financing needed that cannot be addressed by adaptation finance, regular climate finance, or mitigation finance. Developed countries and other sources such as private sources therefore will be called upon to contribute to its operationalization in a timely and locally-driven manner.
Loyzaga added the Philippines is at the point where it will need to do a thorough review of the country’s commitment to a 75% GHG emissions reduction. This represents the country’s ambition for GHG mitigation for the sectors of agriculture, waste, industry, transport, and energy for the period 2020-2030.
“I think it is extremely important for us to be heard by other countries because what we're trying to do is really approach our climate resilience by twinning adaptation, mitigation, and disaster risk reduction. And that will involve the social, economic, environmental, and scientific efforts of our whole government,” she added.
The Paris Agreement calls for keeping global warming in check by limiting temperature rise to no more than 1.5°C, and the reduction of GHG emissions by 45% by 2030, to reach net zero by 2050. Net zero means bringing down global GHG emissions to almost zero, while the residual or remaining GHG emission is captured or absorbed by, for example, the forests which sequester carbon dioxide, a major GHG.
“Our participation in COP28 seeks to amplify calls for developed nations to fulfill their commitments to developing countries in the areas of climate finance, technology transfer, and capacity-building. Moreover, our exposure internationally will open opportunities for access to financial and technical support that we need as a country vulnerable to climate change.”
In recognition of the country’s work on oceans and biodiversity, Loyzaga has been invited to speak at a number of side events. These include panel discussions on oceans and climate, minerals and climate, nature-based solutions, and innovative financing that needs to go into the work related to loss and damage and adaptation. The Philippines’ efforts on green shipping and supporting the reskilling and upskilling of seafarers and workers in the energy sector in relation to the transition to renewable energy has also been recognized.
Centered around the three major themes, Low Carbon Economic Development, Building Resilient Communities, and Protecting Biodiversity, Loyzaga added that the Philippine delegation will push for transformative climate governance, ramped-up efforts to decarbonize the global economy and implementation of nature-based solutions consistent with the country’s priority agenda.
The Marcos administration has committed to reduce the Philippines' GHG emissions, aligning with global commitments under the Paris Agreement.
COP28 is part of the broader 2023 UN Climate Change Conferences—the world’s highest decision-making body on climate issues. The annual conference gathers world leaders, top-level government officials, technical experts and other stakeholders to discuss and negotiate specific action plans to mitigate climate change risks, reduce GHG emissions and address global warming.
Aside from participating in the main meetings, selected national government agencies, development partners, private sector and civil society will be hosting over 30 panel discussions, presentations and networking opportunities at the country’s pavilion as part of the conference’s Side Events. Themed “Together Today for Tomorrow,” these events are designed to connect and unite a diverse range of stakeholders focused on climate solutions, such as in data governance, nature, land use and oceans, disaster resilience, energy transition, transforming food systems, and climate financing.