Cablegate: Philippines Appears to Moderate Pre-Copenhagen Climate

DE RUEHML #2483/01 3360001
O 020001Z DEC 09




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Philippines Appears to Moderate Pre-Copenhagen Climate
Change Stance

Ref: Manila 2329

1. (SBU) Summary. The Philippines' lead climate change negotiator,
former Senator and Environment Secretary Heherson "Sonny" Alvarez,
has spelled out a pragmatic position on greenhouse gas emissions,
calling for mandatory cuts for 'all the big boys', including China.
This replaces earlier Philippine demands for 'deep and early cuts'
in emissions of 30 percent for developed countries. Alvarez's
statements are in line with comments made by Philippine President
Arroyo during the visit of Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack in
October. Alvarez credited Philippine environmental Non-governmental
Organizations (NGOs) with informing the government's climate change
position and noted that NGO representatives constituted a large part
of the Philippines Copenhagen delegation. Some representatives of
Philippine NGOs expressed bewilderment at the GRP's apparent change
in position, but also noted that the multitude of bureaucracies and
personalities involved in Philippine climate change policy often
resulted in multiple and contradictory expressions of policy. End

President Highlights Climate Change with Clinton, Vilsack

2. (SBU) Philippine President Arroyo highlighted climate change in
talks with both Secretary Clinton and Secretary Vilsack during their
respective November 12 and October 26 visits to Manila. President
Arroyo's stated preference for 'workable, binding (emission)
targets' during talks with Secretary Vilsack (reftel) was the first
high profile deviation from the GRP's standard position of 'deep and
early cuts' by developed countries of more than 30 to 40 percent
from 2013 to 2017. (Note: The 'deep and early cuts' phrase has been
a centerpiece position since the December 2008 Conference of Parties
(COP) in Poznan, Poland and as recently as April 2009 climate change
talks in Bonn. End note.) The President told the press on November
11 that she is amenable to a climate change agreement requiring
countries to make individual commitments to greenhouse gas emission
reductions and would no longer insist on deep and early cuts.

GRP Says China Must Commit to Emission Cuts

3. (SBU) While Presidential Advisor on Climate Change Alvarez would
not explicitly repudiate his signature 'deep and early cuts' phrase
in a November 24 meeting with EST&H Officer, he mentioned several
times that real progress on climate change mitigation was possible
only if 'all the big boys', including China, accepted binding
emissions' cuts. He also said that the Philippines was preparing a
package of voluntary emissions reductions to present at the
Copenhagen talks that would reduce emissions five percent below 2000
levels. He added that technical staff were still determining the
specific contributions of particular sectors to the overall
emissions target, but said land use (agricultural and forestry)
calculations were particularly complicated and time-consuming.

GRP Financing and Kyoto Positions Remain in Line with G-77

4. (SBU) Asked to comment on U.S. proposals to create a new Global
Climate Fund under the United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCC) financial mechanism, Alvarez expressed a
preference for a financial governance model that allowed the
developing nations, 'which will be most affected by the natural
disasters', to determine how adaptation and mitigation funds will be
spent. He said World Bank or International Monetary Fund-type
models were unacceptable. Queried about the role of the Kyoto
Protocol post-Copenhagen, he said Annex I country commitments should
remain intact, but confessed that he was not familiar with the
details of the 'kill-Kyoto' controversy.

GRP Climate Change Stance NGO Driven

5. (SBU) Alvarez noted that in addition to Undersecretaries Lucille
Sering, Segfredo Serrano, and Graciano Yumul of the Departments of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Agriculture, and Science
and Technology, respectively, as well as representatives from the
Department of Foreign Affairs, the Philippines' Copenhagen climate
change delegation would contain a large private sector component.
Alvarez said President Arroyo had not yet made up her mind as to
whether she would attend the Copenhagen talks. He credited
Philippine environmental NGOs with driving the GRP's climate change
position, especially in early stages of negotiations when Philippine
officials were 'too uninformed and uninterested' to engage

MANILA 00002483 002 OF 002

constructively on the issue. This view was confirmed by all the
local and international environmental NGOs we spoke to, who credited
Alvarez with 'opening up the process' to civil society
participation. Dr. Helen Mendoza, President of the Philippine
Network on Climate Change (PNCC), a consortium of ten Philippine
environmental NGOs, said the group has worked closely with the GRP
on climate change since the 1992 UN Rio de Janeiro Climate Change
Summit. Lory Tan, director of World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
Philippines, said major portions of the GRP climate change position
were 'lifted from WWF position papers' that WWF had provided to
government agencies.

NGOs Bewildered by Sudden Loss of Climate Change Clout

6. (SBU) All of the environmental NGO representatives we spoke to
were bewildered by the apparent change in the GRP's climate change
position. 'We don't know who they're talking to anymore' commented
WWF's Lory Tan. Maria Belinda de la Paz, representative of Haribon,
the Philippine's major biodiversity NGO, said many in Philippine
environmental circles assume Secretary Clinton influenced President
Arroyo to moderate the GRP's position.

Multitude of Voices Hampering Climate Change Policy?

7. (SBU) Another common theme brought up by NGOs involved in the
climate change process was that the numerous GRP task forces,
agencies, departments and commissions tasked with climate change
functions create unproductive bureaucratic rivalries and preclude a
consistent GRP position. Various NGO representatives described how
the Inter-Agency Commission on Climate Change, created in 1991,
which was originally mandated to prepare the GRP's climate change
position, has lost influence to the Presidential Task Force on
Climate Change (PTFCC, created in 2007) and the Office of the
Presidential Adviser on Climate Change (created in 2008). To
further complicate matters, in its short lifetime, leadership of the
PTFCC has passed from the DENR to the Department of Energy, and is
currently chaired by the President. Although the recently passed
Philippine Climate Change Act (septel) is intended to clarify the
climate change hierarchy, NGO representatives complained that
crucial UN climate change for a, such as the 2007 summit in Bali and
November's Barcelona talks, featured GRP negotiating teams with dual
(or dueling) heads.

8. (SBU) Comment: Recent statements by President Arroyo and Climate
Change Advisor Alvarez indicate a welcome moderation of the GRP
climate change position. Questions remain as to whether this view
will manifest itself as a consistent negotiating position in
Copenhagen. Some of the GRP's previous policy appears to have been
personality driven, such as the role played at UN climate change
conferences by Bernarditas "Ditas" de Castro Muller, a retired GRP
diplomat residing in Geneva. Although an environmental advisor to
the Philippine government, she is also a lead negotiator and
coordinator for the G77 group. In past UN climate talks, Muller has
aggressively advocated unrealistically stringent binding emissions
reduction targets for developed countries and taken a 'hard G77'
line on financing, technology and other issues. However, if
President Arroyo leads the delegation in Copenhagen, it is likely
the Philippines will maintain a pragmatic approach, in the hope of
achieving an agreement that could bolster Arroyo's legacy and help
strengthen her and her party for the May 2010 elections. While it
remains unclear which Philippine agency will ultimately be
responsible for climate change policy, the Philippine vulnerability
to climate change ensures that the issue will remain prominent.
This gives the USG an opportunity to engage a moderate and
influential G77 member in substantive discussions on global actions.
End Comment.


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


UNFCCC: Simon Stiell Appointed New Executive Secretary
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has appointed Simon Stiell as the new Executive Secretary of the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat based in Bonn, Germany...

Binoy Kampmark: Europe Dries Up
Scenes and pictures have been circulating of broken earth, lacking moisture, cracked and yearning. But these are not from traditional drought-stricken parts of the planet, where the animal carcass assumes near totemic power... More>>

UN: Bachelet Alarmed By Number Of Palestinian Children Killed In Latest Escalation

UN Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet today expressed alarm at the high number of Palestinians, including children, killed and injured in the occupied Palestinian territory this year, including in intense hostilities between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza last weekend... More>>

Afghanistan: One Year On From Regime Change And Children Face An Unimaginable A Crisis
On the one-year anniversary of regime change in Afghanistan, a new World Vision report highlights the grave risk the country’s children face from starvation, forced child marriage, and child labour... More>>

Somalia: ‘We Cannot Wait For Famine To Be Declared; We Must Act Now’
Rising acute food insecurity in Somalia has caused more than 900,000 people to flee their homes in search of humanitarian assistance since January last year, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned... More>>

UN: American West Faces Water And Power Shortages Due To Climate Crisis
Two of the largest reservoirs in the United States are at dangerously low levels due to the climate crisis and overconsumption of water, which could affect water and electricity supply for millions in six western states and Mexico, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) warned on Tuesday... More>>