PARIS, France — The Filipino delegation at COP21 said that the chances for setting a 1.5 degree Celsius limit to global warming at the end of the climate change summit are “50-50.” Negotiators explain that these are good odds, considering the status of the proposal at the beginning of the meeting.
“It’s definitely better than it was on the first day. On the first day, I would have said we had 20 percent chance. A year ago, I would have said 0 chance,” said Ateneo School of Governance Dean Tony La Viña, spokesperson of the Filipino party in Paris.
La Viña said the proposal has “a lot of support,” but influential countries like the US, China, India, and Saudi Arabia may block its passage. Delegates seem ready to compromise.
“We might not get it in the (way) that we really want. But a reference to (the 1.5 degree Celsius limit in the final agreement) is a big thing already,” La Viña said.
The 1.5 degree Celsius limit has been one of the causes of the the Climate Vulnerability Forum (CVF) which the Philippines is heading this year. It is a departure from the 2 degree Celsius limit that has previously been regarded as enough to avoid the dangerous impacts of climate change.
Manila Observatory climate scientist and former PAGASA Division Chief Rosa Perez says that a 2 degree change in global average temperatures is expected to have a catastrophic effect especially on vulnerable countries like the Philippines.
"The target should be 1.5 celsius degrees because average global temperatures have already increased 0.85 degrees Celsiuis, and just look at the impacts. We were devastated by typhoon Haiyan, we have flooding and drought. Just imagine what will happen if the target will remain at 2 degrees. It should be set at 1.5 degrees” said Perez.
Aside from an increase in the frequency and severity of weather events, dangers on health, and threats to food security, Perez warned against Slow Onset Impacts (SOI) of climate change.
“Halimbawa yung is a good example of sea level rise. We are not talking about temporary flooding here, but the (permanent) submersion of low-lying areas. By the time you realize it's there, it could be too late,” Perez explained.
Meanwhile, at a high-level ministerial segment of the UN Climate Change Conference, Secretary General Ban Ki Moon called on ministers to conclude an effective climate change agreement at the end of the week.
He also reminded ministers of the directions made by more than 150 world leaders on the first day of the meeting. They pledged their full support for a robust agreement.
"Never before have so many heads of state and government gathered in one place at one time with one common purpose. Leaders have assured me they will work to remove any roadblocks,” he said.