Statement by Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, about her visit to the Philippines 26 – 27 February
I am extremely honoured to have the opportunity to accompany French President François Hollande to the Philippines to meet with President Benigno Aquino.
The Philippines is emblematic of a country and a nation that is extremely vulnerable to climate change. With millions of people living along the shores of thousands of islands, this country is and will increasingly be subject to climate change impacts such as powerful typhoons, sea level rise and ocean warming and acidification that affect ocean resources upon which often the poorest of the poor depend for protein.
Tomorrow I will visit Guiuan, the city where Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda made such destructive landfall in early November 2013 and a city where citizens are still rebuilding from the superstorm’s destruction.
I will also visit Liter of Light, an award-winning initiative that provides zero-carbon lighting to homes that lack electricity. The initiative was awarded as Lighthouse Project under our Momentum for Change programme and was recently awarded the Zayed Future Energy Prize for Sustainable Leadership, which recognizes innovators for their impact, innovation, leadership, and long-term vision.
These two visits demonstrate both sides of the climate change challenge. We must redouble our effort to curb emissions that contribute to increasing global impacts and my heart goes out to every person affected by climate change-related impacts.
At the same time, we must also look for economic development opportunities and solutions that lift people out of poverty without putting more carbon pollution into the atmosphere.
Over the next 10 months, a defining opportunity comes for all governments to commit to ambitious climate action at the UN climate change conference in Paris.
Paris will not solve climate change with the stroke of a pen, but it needs to put in place the pathways, policies and support to assist vulnerable countries like the Philippines to better cope with climate change.
It also needs to put in place the pathways, policies and support to raise the emission reduction game of all nations to avoid an even more risk-exposed future.
That will require the peaking of global emissions in the next decade; triggering a deep de-carbonization of the global economy and realizing climate neutrality in the second half of the century—so that healthy forests, soils and other ecosystems like mangroves and seagrasses can safely absorb what little emissions are left.
That is a key reason why President Hollande and President Benigno Aquino are meeting and why I am honoured and humbled to be part of and witness this joint leadership milestone to Paris and beyond.