Government News Analysis

Going green’s not black and white

On Friday, the global Green movement will be watching to see whether the Philippines has ratified the Paris Agreement, set out by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which former president, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino, signed up to just 11 weeks and three days before leaving office. No need to wait until Friday though; President Rodrigo Duterte is not likely to rubber stamp an agreement which he finds so disagreeable. His detractors will label him an Enemy of Earth, or some such. ‘Not content with ruining the Philippines, he now wants to destroy the planet’ – we can here them now. But they would be wrong.

Duterte is a fierce environmentalist. Look no further than his appointment of the equally fierce Gina Lopez as secretary at the Department of Environment and Resources (DENR) who in three months has conducted an audit of the entire mining sector to evaluate the level of its environmental failure. That’s something that’s never been done before.

Of the 41 metal-ore mines reviewed, only 11 were found to be satisfactory; 20 have been asked to give reasons why their operations should not be suspended and could join the 10 which have already had their operating licences revoked. This isn’t window-dressing to gain some Green brownie points; this is environmental protection on an industrial scale.

And it’s all with Duterte’s blessing. In fact, it was carried out at his direction. In his 25 July State of the Nation address, he directed the DENR “to review all permits granted to the mining, logging and other environmental-sensitive activities. Ensure compliance with government standards, and if warranted, amend, suspend, or revoke permits. Go ahead.” And, referring to Lopez, he added: “We both share the same goal. She is doing a good job. She is a crusader”.

He has also issued instructions that Laguna Lake – a fetid body of water, choked by discarded garbage – should be restored, in Lopez’s words, to its “original pristine condition” and become the centerpiece of an ecotourism zone. When completed, she added: “It will be a superb example of what happens when you take care of the environment. That’s the game plan, and I’m going into this full force … it’s taken the president’s attention”.

That’s just two examples of many that show Duterte’s unquestionable environmentalist credentials. But pursuing green policies at a time that the country is crying out for more industrial output is a complex balancing act. Going green is not black and white.

And so the problem he has with the Paris Agreement is not that he is opposed to its overall goals. He’s not. What he objects to is the unfair burden it will place on the Philippines and other developing nations which are struggling to build their economies – a handicap that developed nations never had to face. Furthermore, Aquino pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by around 70% by 2030. Let’s look at that in the contest of what other member countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations are offering in terms of cutting their greenhouse gas emissions.

Cambodia. 27% on business as usual by 2030. Indonesia. 29% on business as usual by 2030; up to 41% with international support. Laos. Data “not sufficiently reliable” to set overall emissions goal. Malaysia. 35% from 2005 levels to 2030; up to 45% with international support. Myanmar. Data “not sufficiently reliable” to set overall emissions goal. Singapore. 36% from 2005 levels by 2030. Thailand. 20% from business as usual by 2030, rising to 25% on international support. Vietnam. 8% on business as usual by 2030; up to 25% with international support.

Based on that, the pledge by the Philippines – only responsible for about one-third of 1% of global emissions annually – to cut them by 70% over the next 14 years looks extremely ambitious. And particularly so, given the country’s other pressing ambition – to expand its industrial base and boost its economic development. This is going to need energy, and plenty of it.

Of course the Greenies couldn’t care less about any of that. Their mission is to save the planet at any cost – and if that means hobbling a country like the Philippines in the process, so be it. For them it’s a small price. For the 102,783,846 people (as of midnight) who live there, however, it will ensure that they remain at a permanent economic disadvantage to their fellows in the more-developed lands. Duterte sees this clearly and is particularly irked by the fact that the world’s advanced economies only achieved that status by industrial processes that produced the carbon which has led to the present need for a global reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions.

And of course, also, the president’s die-hard detractors will seize on this as yet another example of Duterte as some kind of ogre who would be quite happy to watch the Philippines turn into a barren desert, or be submerged beneath a rising sea, or wither under a methane cloud. For some he will never be able to do right. And yet, he’s already tackling climate change.

He’s changing the climate of savagery and crime and rampant drug use that’s been burning a hole in the law-and-order layer for decades. He’s changing the climate of intransigence that’s come from the politically charged emissions released by successive occupants of the presidential palace of Malacañang in its dealing with critical communist and Muslim issues – a greenhouse effect that’s ensured the temperature continues to rise. He’s changing the climate that produced economic desertification across the regions – as the desolate social landscape, occupied by an employment famine and a poverty of life contrasts ever more grotesquely with the Horn of Plenty in the oasis of Makati. This is how he’s tackling climate change.

Of course, we all want to breathe pure oxygen-rich air, drink crystal-clear water from a cool mountain spring. But before we can get there, the barbarism must be quelled, the corruption must be erased and the economy must be rebuilt. And if achieving all that means that the Philippines should adopt a more-modest target for its emission cuts then the Greenies and the Duterte-haters are just going to have to accept it. For oddly, this isn’t about them; this is about the Filipino nation and its future.

Facebook Comments


  • hindi pa pinanganak ang kasalukayang presidente natin itong mga malalaking bansa gaya ng amerika, europa at china ay sila ang nangunguna sa pagsira sa mundo…pati ng ngayon sa himpapawid may mga basura na sa sirang bagay sa satilite nila.

  • Ang mga west….us…at mauulad na bansa…angvunang sumira sa mundo….air water..and land….sila ang unang naka naka mga kemikal..metal waste..nuclear waste..oil pullotion…plant residue..water and solid waste…chemical waste..saan nila itatapun pinaka murang paraan..sympre sa dagat….or sa lupa…at bago xla magpatupad ng batas pra sa invironment..napag sawaan na nilang….magtapun ng basura sa mundo…

  • Thanks our loving n compassionate PresDuterte for loving our wounded country , believing Cilmate change is for Convenience only , Hmnn ,… GOD have something GREAT for this wonderful n amazing country , be patient n just wait n PRAY more , GOD Bless , PHILIPPINES <3

  • Global warming is everybody’s concern nowadays..and we are really part of it..we’re not denying that using coal fired power plant really contributed that matter..but they must not ban us immediately on using that technology.. It is our only tools for survival..naghihirap na nga tayo pahihirapan pa.if they really force us to comply by now, they are like throwing us into lion den with empty hand.. They must really helped us finding alternative means..or maybe provide us.. Our president will comply as long as our economy will not hurt badly..

  • We are not a big contributor of carbon emissions either. We will sign when we feel that it’s time. Please let us not allow them to dictate on us.

  • hindi cya bobo hindi tanga ang Pdu30..
    bkit kc ang hilig pangunahan ang Pdu30…nitong mga bansang nkikialam s atin…
    My sariling taktika ang Pdu30..
    Mas iingatan ng aming pangulo ang aming bansa…kc kmi anv nkatira dito….


  • … why did PNoy signed an Agreement stating to cut greenhouse emission by 70% by 2030 few months before stepping diwn yet approved and gave some power energy investors the right to use coal… even Mar Roxas was defending PNoy stating that there is such a thing as “clean coal energy”… now that Paris Ageeement ratification is being talked about no matter what our President Mayor will decide on this matter will again result to a lot of criticisms… i hope Filipinos will FOCUS more on what is good for the country… we are just growing while others have been there for so long… hindi tayo ang nagsira ng kalikasan… sila yun!!!… so i don’t think they’ll take it against us if President Mayor will follow a different route.

  • climate change/global warming is a scam designed to keep the poor nations (third world economies) to remain as is, to keep them devoid of industrial machineries and facilities (obviously uses carbon fuel for power) needed to make a country economically progressive.

    people should do more research about how factual is this climate change/global warming scare than just blindly listening and believing in the mainstream media and corrupt politicians.

  • That agreement was completely unacceptable to us. Mr. Aquino signed that agreement maybe without thinking. Very unfair to a small nation a developing third world nation like the philippines. If the statistics show USA pollution emission is 25 percent and the Philippines is .89 percent round it off to 1 percent of the total emission. The recommended allowable for phils. increase to 12.5 then US should reduce from 25 to 12.5 para fair o patas lang magkita sa gitna. Nuclear energy was proven effecient but need approval from experts. My personal view.

  • We can only Go totally Green only after we’ve Reached our Macro Economic Target as we Venture on National Industrialization. Green Energy Source is Acceptable but we Need a Cheaper Electricity Source like Nuclear Power Energy that can never be augmented by Passive Green Energy Sources like Solar, Wind or Wave energy!!!..

  • How can so many people not realize just how important this issue is to not only the international community, but to mother nature herself. Stop thinking so selfishly. We should be reaponsible stewards of planet earth.

  • No treaty can change our fate as an equatorial country in climate change, unless of course we change our geographical location. Let’s focus instead on ways to mitigate the effects of climate change in our country.

  • sila muna. magbawas ng basura ,bakit nila tayo kinokontrol , ay mas marami silang kumpanya na sumisira sa klima natin , , tanga talaga ang pumayag s kasunduan na iyan ,kc nga mga developing countries ang tatamaan at hindi ang mga first world countries … ang umayon jan eh di tanga din … at tanga kayo na kinokontra ang Pangulo ng Pilipinas ,,, ga nag aral na kayo …

  • We must not be part of the evil agenda of those dictators in this planet aim only to serve their own interest.we live in a developing country that cannot yet level up to the western world.Paris climate change pact is a mileage going to a totalitarian government.

  • For some, green means painting walls, roofs of buildings, etc. green, wearing green t-shirts during parades,hello, green means We need to plant trees, look at our mountains…