DFA chief: PH can engage in climate talks from home

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Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. is banking on digital access to make the Philippines' voice heard in the climate negotiations.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 6) — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro "Teddyboy" Locsin Jr. allayed concerns over the Philippines' absence from climate talks, and banking on digital access to make its voice heard.

"We can do this from home on the internet. That spares the planet from more jet travels that wreck the environment. That was the conclusion of a Nauru-sponsored conference I attended as UN rep. An entire world summit was done online," he said in a response to a tweet about concerns of withdrawing from climate talks.

The country's top diplomat was responding to concerns from climate advocacy group, Center for Energy, Ecology and Development, issued Thursday..

"The Philippines’ presence in the Climate Talks presents the country an opportunity to echo the voice of vulnerable nations in the global discussion on climate action and to urge other countries to raise their level of commitment to solving the crisis," CEED had said in its statement.

The group also pointed out refusing attendance to the talks will give industrialized economies "further license to escape" accountability for climate change.

Locsin on Wednesday said he will reject all attendance to climate change talks requiring air travel for participation, in line with President Rodrigo Duterte's criticism of climate change conferences.

"I am rejecting all official participation in climate change conferences requiring air travel. We'll just vote Yes to radical proposals. No more talk," he earlier tweeted.

The International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAO), the United Nations' body for flying, said in its 2016 report that total carbon emissions of the aviation industry over the period 2015-2050 may reach around 56 billion tons. To meet the limit of temperature increase in the planet 1.5°C above preindustrial levels, the UN body said it must create greener options for the industry to cut down on emissions.

The President added he has fired several members of his Cabinet for always traveling abroad just to attend climate change conferences.

Duterte in March 2017 signed the Paris deal on climate change, which mandates member countries to curb the effects of the phenomenon. The agreement, signed by over 195 countries, seeks to pursue efforts to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels.