Decision to ‘gag’ Saño in UN COP climate negotiations reveals lack of climate policy backbone, insincerity of Aquino gov’t

December 4, 2014

By Kalikasan PNE
The Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) said that the dropping of Climate Change Commissioner Naderev ‘Yeb’ Saño as the Philippines’ chief negotiator during the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP) climate change talks shows the weak climate policies and bankrupt politics of the Aquino administration.
“We have long warned of the lack of climate policy backbone of the Aquino administration, and have long criticized their deafening silence on the accountability of polluter economies such as the United States and the European Union. The removal of the outspoken Comm. Saño from the PH delegation to the UN climate conference in Lima is in line with the Aquino government’s subservience to the positions of the biggest climate polluters such as the United States and the European Union,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
International media and NGOs noted how the move seemed linked to the Philippines’ decision to leave the ‘like-minded group of developing countries’ or LMDC bloc of nations, a group of countries that have urged ambitious targets for emissions reduction and the accountability of the historic contributions of polluter countries. Both decisions are believed to have come vis-a-vis political pressure from US and the European Union.
Saño is internationally renowned for his actions within and outside COP climate negotiations calling for ambitious greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets especially in powerful developed nations, and which has also pressured the COP to allow a track of negotiations on Loss and Damage—essentially a mechanism to facilitate compensation and reparation by polluter countries to climate-vulnerable nations such as the Philippines.
“Was Saño’s call for a legally binding commitment from the US and other big polluters to cut their global carbon emissions not within the just demands of the Filipino people and the international community that the Aquino government should be heeding?” Bautista asked.
‘Unable to walk the talk’
Kalikasan PNE pointed out that this was not the first time actions taken by the Aquino government conflicted with its people’s interests for climate resilience.
“The Aquino administration’s domestic policies and programs on climate change and interrelated issues on energy, environment and disasters have been woefully incommensurate to the country’s progressive veneer in the international negotiations. The Aquino government is unable to walk their climate talk, unlike nations that lead by example such as Cuba and Venezuela, which respectively have best practices in disaster risk management and state regulation of the power industry,” explained Bautista.
The Aquino administration’s policies and programs such as the Mining Act of 1995, the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, and the Joint House Resolution 21 that seeks to give the president Emergency Powers to fast-track the procurement of temporary diesel plants and the construction of coal-fired power plants, has long been criticized for being in conflict with development goals on disaster risk management, climate change adaptation and mitigation, and environmental protection.
‘The fight is on the ground’
“Saño, who came from the ranks of civil society prior to becoming a commissioner at the Climate Change Commission, has respect for grassroots voices—something the rest of the Aquino administration doesn’t seem to share. We enjoin Saño to continue giving his voice especially to the struggles of frontline grassroots communities against coal-fired power plants, environmentally destructive projects, and worsening disaster impacts. The fight is on the ground, that is where he is very much welcome,” said Bautista.
Together with over 130 organizations worldwide, Kalikasan PNE and People Surge said in a joint statement released in time for the Yolanda anniversary that they “resolve to continue to build people’s resilience against climate change through solidarity,” uniting in the demand for mandatory GHG emissions caps and reparations for damages and losses caused by polluter countries to be reflected in a binding climate and development agreement by 2015.
Survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) under the People Surge Alliance recently mounted a 20,000-strong protest mobilization during the anniversary of Yolanda, calling for President Aquino’s ouster over mounting issues of corruption and criminal negligence in the emergency response and rehabilitation phases of ‘Yolanda.’
“Let us emulate the Yolanda survivors under the People Surge, who continue to struggle for self-reliant mutual aid and to demand environmental, social, economic and climate justice from the Aquino administration. Let us work together with frontline communities to take our nation’s politicians to task for their lack of decisive action in confronting the climate crisis,” Bautista ended.###