JOINT STATEMENT ON THE FINALIZATION AND SUBMISSION OF THE PHILIPPINES’ FIRST NATIONALLY DETERMINED CONTRIBUTIONS
18 December 2020
The Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) are one of the most important components of any country’s strategy in addressing the climate emergency. As part of fulfilling the goals of the Paris Agreement, it contains the post-2020 self-determined actions that aim to contribute towards limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, by slashing global CO2 emissions by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reaching a net-zero emissions worldwide by 2050. This is achieved not only by reducing current and future greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions mainly by a just transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy (RE), but also by removing historical GHG emissions through natural carbon sinks such as forests.
For the Philippines, the NDC represents more than just a roadmap for mitigating GHG emissions. It also represents our degree of commitment in dealing with the gravest existential threat to natural and anthropogenic systems alike, of which the country has been repeatedly reminded for decades. It is a definitive acceptance of the moral and legal obligation of the State to champion climate justice, not only for the well-being of the most vulnerable sectors from the brunt of climate change impacts, but also for future generations.
Yet it is baffling that the Philippines, one of the countries with the highest levels of risk to the impacts of the climate crisis, is one of the handful of nations yet to submit its first official NDC. It has been five years since the Paris Agreement was adopted, with the Philippines known to have played a key role in the negotiations in preceding years that eventually led to its creation. But the country has not matched its accomplishments at the international arena on the domestic front, as evidenced by the repeated delays in submitting the NDC and the poor implementation of climate and environmental laws in recent years.
As civil society organizations fighting for climate action in the Philippines and representing the interests of local communities, especially the marginalized sectors, including indigenous peoples, we support the Philippine government in finalizing and submitting the NDC for the sake of current and future generations. Through our numerous partners and members, we have been trying to engage with national government agencies in ensuring the development of a meaningful NDC for the past few years.
As we approach the end of 2020, which is within the allowed time frame for Parties to the Paris Agreement to submit their NDC per Decision 1/CP.21 – the second round of submissions for Parties who have previously submitted an NDC – the Philippines faces serious challenges in finalizing this document. Recent events, including the House of Representatives Committee on Climate Change hearing on December 4, and dialogues with long-time experts of international climate negotiations have shown that many issues need to be urgently addressed, as our country attempts to submit its first NDC by the supposed “midnight survival” deadline of 31 December 2020.
We, present our recommendations for the finalization and submission of the Philippines’s first NDC and insights on how to address significant gaps and challenges that affect this process:
- After numerous delays, the Philippines’s first NDC should be submitted as soon as possible. That said, we must not submit this document for the sake of meeting a deadline or maintaining political reputations. We call on the Philippine government to take all necessary measures to ensure that the submission of the country’s first NDC on or before the end of 2020 must not compromise its quality, which must reflect sufficiently high ambition, and characterized by targets and measures that indicate a transformative decarbonization pathway towards inclusive, resilient, and sustainable development.
We must remember that the NDC serves as a key tool during international negotiations, and that our country is entitled under the UNFCCC to be supported in our adaptation and mitigation efforts by industrialized countries and major polluters. Thus, a rushed NDC with a lack of evidence-based targets and actions would also be detrimental to the socioeconomic development and environmental resilience of the Philippines.
At the same time, it is important to learn lessons from the process of developing and drafting the NDC and identify and address the root causes of delay, so these could be avoided in the remaining time to finalize the NDC and in developing future NDC submissions.
- We also recommend that the Philippines’ GHG emissions should peak way before and not later than the year 2030. The NDC should also set target limits to production and consumption of fossil fuels by 2030 and 2050, setting peak coal much earlier than other fossil fuels. In contrast to a 2040 deadline, this gives the nation a longer period of time to realistically implement a low-carbon, just transition pathway towards attaining net-zero emissions by 2050, aligned with the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Furthermore, the country’s status as a minor contributor of GHG emissions does not give it the right to follow the pollutive development pathways of high-emitting nations that caused the climate crisis in the first place. This is consistent with the imperative for the country to embody climate justice in its actions and to prioritize averting and/or minimizing loss and damage, especially as future generations will have to deal with climate change impacts due to increased emissions in the following decades. It further supports the case that while adaptation is the country’s anchor strategy for climate action, with mitigation conducted as one of its functions or co-benefits, mitigation must remain prioritized in the NDC and national development plans, especially in the energy and transport sector. WIth this, the government should meaningfully adhere to the Paris Agreement and that Philippine commitments should be in line with the 1.5°C aspirations.
- While the narrative component of the NDC is important, concrete numerical targets are essential for the Philippines to assess its financial and technological needs and enable it to access the means of implementation to which it is entitled under the UNFCCC. We call for the clear presentation of a set of strong quantifiable targets, including an ambitious emissions reductions target, as part of an integrated economy-wide approach reflected in the Philippines’ first NDC. It must feature a set of concrete programs and strategies, with associated benefits and costs that have implications on not only addressing the climate crisis, but also on national development.
Furthermore, emissions avoidance must be prioritized in the NDC over simply reducing emissions as much as possible. This strategy covers measures such as the phase-out of coal-fired power plants, scaling up indigenous renewable energy development, improving energy efficiency, preserving natural carbon sinks, and other nature-based solutions. We also strongly oppose the inclusion of nuclear power, waste-to-energy and other false solutions which are detrimental to biological diversity, ancestral lands and ecosystems integrity. Emissions avoidance is a more cost-effective approach that could result in a net-zero economy by 2050 with multiple benefits that can be translated to the local level; these include lower economic costs, more sustainable livelihood opportunities, increased security from both extreme weather and slow onset events, and increased ecological resilience.
- Despite our engagements with government units and non-government sectors involved in NDC development, we express concern about the lack of adequate transparency and inclusivity in the entire process. CCC’s seemingly privileging of some NGOs in their internal discussions of the NDC does not give them a pass in not consulting the broader network of CSOs that are representative of all the range of sectors that are concerned with the outcomes of the country’s NDC. Given the pursuit of the “midnight survival” deadline, the years-long period for the Philippine government to finalize the NDC, and the rapidly-dwindling time left in 2020 to conduct calculations, consultations, and other activities, it is unjust that non-government actors will only be informed and consulted about the draft NDC mere days before the target time of submission. This is unacceptable and this should no longer be repeated. This is yet another sign of the shrinking spaces for engagement for non-government sectors in climate change-related processes that have been observed in recent years, including the lack of meaningful civil society representation in the Philippine delegation to recent global UN climate conferences. We are alarmed that the Climate Change Commission is not transparent nor inclusive in meaningfully engaging with CSOs, youth, local communities and indigenous peoples on this process that is vital to national survival. We are all stakeholders in the fight against the climate crisis, and no one must be excluded or left behind.
We call on the Philippine government to enhance the inclusivity and transparency of the NDC process during the remaining time for finalization and submission, aligned with the “whole-of-society” approach that it has used in other climate change-related policies. Proper mechanisms to ensure more active participation and engagement from non-government actors must be enforced; these include spaces for inclusive dialogue and negotiations among representatives from the government, business, academe, and civil society sectors in not just finalizing the NDC, but also working together for implementation of related programs, monitoring their progress, and raising our collective ambition in succeeding submissions. Non-government actors, including the members of this network, are willing and ready to provide technical, economic, social, policy, and other expertise to support the Philippines’ efforts to achieve its climate objectives and create a safe and secure future for all Filipinos.
Aksyon Klima Pilipinas is a broad civil society national network of more than 40 civil society organizations, networks and partners working on diverse climate and development-related issues. It aims to build campaigning capacity and leadership among its partner community organizations, NGOs and the academe, on climate policies and issues.
The Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) is a broad movement consisting of national networks/alliances and local organizations representing basic sectors in the Philippines that aims to lead the joint struggles, campaigns and actions in putting forward the climate justice framework as a fundamental element of solving the climate crisis.
Youth Strike 4 Climate Philippines, one of the pioneer, youth-led climate movements in the country, is a nationwide youth-led organization and campaign in the Philippines; fueled by the goal to empower young Filipino people to act against the climate crisis. It is a network and alliances of Sangguniang Kabataan, youth and student organizations, advocacy groups, and individuals in different regions, cities, and municipalities in the country who demand bold climate actions from the Philippine Government by humanizing climate action through activism and storytelling.
Green Convergence for Safe Food Healthy Environment and Sustainable Economy (Green Convergence Philippines) is a coalition that advocates for a development paradigm that addresses the need for social and economic upliftment, while preserving life-supporting water, air and land for generations to come.
The Green Thumb Coalition is a broad and united front of more than 40 organizations and networks that aims to elevate the issues of the environment, sustainable development and human rights in governance.