Duterte won't honour climate change pledge, calls it absurd

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte giving a speech during a dinner reception in Manila on July 14.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte giving a speech during a dinner reception in Manila on July 14. PHOTO: AFP

President Rodrigo Duterte said yesterday that the Philippines will not honour its commitments under a historic agreement concluded last year in Paris that seeks to avoid catastrophic climate change.

"You are trying to stifle us… and tell us we are limited to this and that. That's stupid. I will not honour that," Mr Duterte said, recalling an encounter he had with an "ambassador" who pressed him about Manila's commitments to the climate change deal.

"He told me, 'You signed it'. I told him, 'That's not my signature."

He did not name the envoy, but said: "I wanted to kick him." He expressed these sentiments after attending an official event.

The Philippines was among 178 nations that signed an agreement, reached in Paris in December last year, that commits nearly every nation to take domestic actions to tackle climate change.

The Philippines promised to cut its carbon emissions by 70 per cent by 2030. That pledge was made under Mr Duterte's predecessor, Mr Benigno Aquino.

Mr Duterte insisted that the pledge was an "absurd" imposition by developed nations that had been the world's biggest polluters.

"I will not follow," he said. He said he will not allow wealthier nations that "had spewed a lot of contaminants, emissions" to "dictate the destiny" of poorer nations seeking to industrialise.

The Philippines may have signed the Paris agreement, but its Congress will have to ratify the deal for it to be binding.

Mr Duterte has previously articulated pro-environment sentiments. He named a leading environment activist to head the Environment Ministry. The new minister, Ms Gina Lopez, has shuttered five mining operations for "irresponsible" practices since she was appointed just four weeks ago.

Meanwhile, Mr Duterte said human rights are not a concern in his war on drugs. His threat came as the International Commission of Jurists joined the chorus of groups criticising his advocacy of killing.

"I will retire with the reputation of Idi Amin," he said in a speech on Sunday, referring to the late African despot whose 1971 to 1979 regime was marked by large-scale rights abuses that killed tens if not hundreds of thousands of Ugandans.

Police yesterday unveiled plans for a large electronic billboard outside the force's Manila headquarters to broadcast a running tally of drugs suspects who have been arrested or "neutralised" - killed - during operations.

•Additional information from Agence France-Presse

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2016, with the headline 'Duterte won't honour climate change pledge, calls it absurd'. Print Edition | Subscribe