Solons Seek Kyoto Protocol Answers

MANILA, Philippines --- Lawmakers have called on the Climate Change Commission (CCC) to specifically discuss the status of the Kyoto Protocol after its implementation expired last year.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and Abante Mindanao party-list Rep. Maximo Rodriguez asked the Commission to brief the House Committee on Ecology on the issues concerning the international agreement which calls on most industrial countries to reduce emissions.

"Due to the very technical nature of the Kyoto Protocol and the even more technical nature of the extension, it would be very helpful if the CCC is invited to brief members of the House of Representatives on the effects of the extension," the brother-lawmakers said in filing House Resolution 2994.

They said the CCC "could also answer questions of lawmakers and give a more detailed explanation on what the Kyoto Protocol has achieved."

Kyoto Protocol sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European Community in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to an average of 5 percent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008 to 2012.

The older Rodriguez said the pact, which was signed in 1997, was supposed to expire last year.

"In a positive turn of events, a UN climate conference in Doha agreed to extend the Kyoto Protocol, a decision adopted by nearly 200 countries after hard-fought sessions and despite objections from Russia," the Cagayan de Oro lawmaker said.

Meanwhile, Akbayan party-list Rep. Walden Bello, chairman of the House committee on overseas workers affairs, has urged the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to establish an Office of the Undersecretary for Climate Change that would strengthen the country's "environmental diplomacy" with other nations to boost the country's capacity to fight climate change.

He asked Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario to ensure that the Philippine government is not only boosting its political and economic relations with other countries, but also its ties to promote and protect the environment.

"Climate change is now a national security issue. The Philippines should take the initiative to press on United States and China to make their commitments or else we will experience more flooding," he said.

"May we find innovative ways to get US and China to seriously tackle the issue. Environmental diplomacy should be at the forefront of our concerns," he stressed.

China and the US, along with India are considered the three largest emitters of greenhouses gases and are not covered by the Kyoto Protocol.

Bello lamented the failure of world's major polluters to give in to the pro-environment treaty would result in more environmental problems.

"We should keep on trying, efforts should continue to move forward because we are victims of climate change. We really obviously suffering because other nations are not cooperating," he said.

"We should establish an Office of the Undersecretary for Climate Change to bring this issue at the forefront because climate change will become more serious issue," he said.

Del Rosario said they would study Bello's proposal even as he recognized that climate change is one of the major threats to country's national security.

"Climate change mitigation and adaptation is a major subject matter in our ASEAN position. We are now working with other countries," he said.

"We will give importance to it and we will look at the possibility in including such Office in our affairs," the country's Chief diplomat said.