Press Briefing

Press Briefing of Ms. Daphne Oseña-Paez with Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga and DFA Assistant Secretary Maria Teresa Almojuela, Office of United Nations and other International Organizations

Event PCO Press Briefing with DENR and DFA

MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Good afternoon, Malacañang Press Corps, and welcome to the pre-departure briefing on the attendance of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. at the Conference of the Parties or COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates this week.

The COP is the highest decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change or the UNFCCC which meets annually to address climate change and its cost-cutting issues.

And to give us an update on the Philippines’ priorities and to ensure that the country’s position in deliberations and negotiations during the summit are heard, we have with us Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga who joins us via Zoom from Dubai and Department of Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for United Nations and Other Organizations, Maria Teresa T. Almojuela. Good afternoon, Secretary Loyzaga and Asec. Almojuela. Okay. Let’s start with you, Asec, since you’re here. Go ahead, ma’am.

DFA ASEC. ALMOJUELA: Good afternoon to all of you. Thank you for inviting us to this press briefing. I’m happy to present the program, the working program of the president for his attendance in COP28. He will leave Manila tomorrow morning and arrive in Dubai late afternoon of November 30. His first program there will be meeting with the Filipino community.

The following two days will be mainly—his engagements are related to COP28 and he will have … he will address the World Climate Action Summit together with other leaders and he will also have important bilateral meetings on these two days.

The first program of December 1 for the president is the opening of the Philippine Pavilion. Shortly after, he will be the keynote speaker in side event that we are organizing together with the Government of Kenya and the IOM Director General. This side event will be about the Philippines leading and pushing for a stronger global consensus on the nexus between climate change and migration.

Following these side events, the program shift to the central part of his visit which is the engagement with other leaders; there will be a family photo of heads of states. So far, we are aware that there are over 140 heads of states, governments and royalties that have confirmed their attendance to this COP28. There will be a COP28 presidency opening of the World Climate Action Summit which begins at 11:45 that morning. There will also be a plenary in the afternoon – two simultaneous plenaries and the president will be delivering the national statement in this plenary session.

He will be number 11 of so many speakers in one of the plenaries; and in the same afternoon, after he has delivered the national statement, he will be attending a leader’s session on transforming climate finance.

Following these engagements, there will be so many bilateral meetings that are scheduled in—I think I will end here but if I may just quickly talk about the COP28. You’ve already described what it is but this COP 28 will take place in Expo City Dubai from the 30th November to December 12, 2023. So, the biggest events will of course be the summitry – the World Climate Action Summit and the engagements at the leader’s level.

But after the leaders have left, the negotiators will continue on to hammer out outcomes including, I think what we are waiting for, is an outcome with respect to the loss and damage fund. I believe that Secretary Tony will address this issue later.
The COP28 presidency, the President-Designate is Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber who will take over from his predecessor – the Egyptian president of the COP27 and the priorities of the COP presidency will be to complete the first Global Stocktake which is a review of how far we have gone as the international community in implementing the Paris Agreement. I think one of the priorities is also to setup the framework of the loss and damage fund as agreed in the last COP in Egypt.

Also, high on the agenda is fast tracking the energy transition, delivering and enhancing climate finance, and of course, resilient food systems. I believe that the president’s engagements will reflect the priority that the Philippines’ attaches to all these thematic agenda of the conference.

So far, the Philippines delegation, we have 237 registered on site delegates representing 16 agencies and member of the civil society. And many of them will be staying behind after the president has completed his program for the negotiation which is … usually it extends beyond two or a couple of days beyond the schedule because these are very important conversations.

And perhaps I may end there, Daphne. Thank you.

MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Thank you so much, Assistant Secretary Almojuela. And now, we have Secretary Loyzaga joining us via Zoom in Dubai. Secretary Loyzaga …?

DENR SEC. YULO-LOYZAGA: Good morning … [garbled].

MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Go ahead, ma’am.

DENR SEC. YULO-LOYZAGA: Thank you very much. I wanted to thank Asec. Teresa for that briefing. As you know, we are on the turning point in terms of climate negotiations. A very critical negotiations in this particular COP because after a long fight, we now have loss and damage on the agenda that will be submitted by [inaudible] committee without question I understand, into their agenda for [inaudible]. We anticipate at this point that there will be many issues relating to climate-vulnerable countries that will be addressed by this loss and damage fund that Asec. Teresa had mentioned earlier.

Essentially, the Philippines’ participation in this particular COP will center around 3 major themes as already mentioned by Asec. Teresa but let me just add a little bit more. We are presenting ourselves [inaudible] having done our report in terms of our biodiversity, in terms of our own renewable energy planning and because of what we are trying to do in building resilient community, we are centering our position mainly around three general things: Pursuit of a low carbon future which is sustainable and resilient [inaudible]; second is introducing nature-based solution embanking on our biodiversity to actually work with other countries as well as community in the country on resilience based on adaptation, mitigation and disaster risk reduction.

And then lastly, [inaudible] … resilient community, we need to engage all the way down to the local government in order for us to build resilience at the frontline. So here in COP, finance is a [inaudible]. We are working on seven major negotiating works themes – loss and damage, climate finance, adaptation, mitigation, the global stocktake, the gas transition especially of our [inaudible] towards a renewable energy future but also specifically our concerns about retooling and upskilling of our workforce; and finally, what will [inaudible] Article 6 which is how we cooperate with each other globally.

But there are very complex negotiations ahead, but we are well-prepared; I want to say that this is a whole-of-government approach, so we have—hello, can you hear me?

MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Yes… Go ahead.

DENR SEC. YULO-LOYZAGA: Yes. So, we have DOF, DOE, DOLE and DMW. We have DA as well and of course, NEDA, DOH; of course DENR; of course, CCC. All of us are working together. We have a small Philippine pavilion, something that we are able to actually manage. But in that pavilion, there will be 32 major side events that will be co-hosted by everyone.

So, I hope that—I’m happy to take any questions that you might have. Thank you.

MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Secretary Loyzaga, maybe we could explain to the public what is the relevance of the Loss and Damage Fund to the Filipinos?

DENR SEC. YULO-LOYZAGA: Thank you very much, Daphne. Loss and Damage Fund is extremely important because as we know, there are losses and damages that are beyond our ability to finance. And that means, if we have sea-level rise, we have massive destruction—as you know, in the last super typhoons, from Yolanda all the way to Quinta, Rolly, Goni and as well as Rai or Odette, the intensity of these tropical cyclones have actually crossed multiple regions, some as many as 11 regions whenever they hit us. So the cost of really trying to recoup and recover from this is way beyond what we are able to afford as a country. There are other countries that are similarly vulnerable, especially the Pacific countries. They are subjected to sea-level rise plus the multiple hazards that are associated with climate change.

So the fund is meant to cover all the financing needed that cannot be addressed anymore by adaptation finance, by regular climate finance, by mitigation finance. This is beyond the capacity of countries. And therefore, developed countries and other sources such as private sources perhaps, will be called upon to put their contributions into the Loss and Damage Fund. It is extremely important that this becomes operationalize soonest, and that we are able to access it at a timely and locally-driven fashion.

Thank you, Daphne.

MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Thank you. Any question from Malacañang Press Corps? Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN.

KATRINA DOMINGO/ABS-CBN: Good afternoon, Secretary Loyzaga. Ma’am, may we know the current emission levels that the Philippines contributes to the global emission average?

DENR SEC. YULO-LOYZAGA: As you know, we are not even point five of one percent, okay. What we have also done in the Climate Change Commission and the work of the DENR is we have identified which sectors emit the most. As you know, energy and transport are the highest contributors, next would be agriculture and then industry.

What we are trying to do now and what we have managed to do is come up with two very important plans based on our greenhouse gas inventory nationally. The first plan is the nationally determined contributions’ implementation plan. And what that does for us is really identifying what kinds of interventions are needed in order to bring our emissions down per sector. And here, as I said, the priorities of course, are for energy and transport and then, as well as agriculture and then industry.

What is important to note, in the National Adaptation Plan, so you have two inter-related plans that need to work together. In the National Adaptation Plan, what is most critical is resilient infrastructure especially for agriculture and food. And so, what we have here are two possibly or seemingly competing priorities: One is, of course, to bring down emissions in the energy and transport and agriculture sector. But here, we also have in adaption the need to secure food for our population.

And so what we’re trying to do at this point, given that we are only less than point five of one percent of global emissions, is really trying to balance what will be the financing needs for us in terms of adaptation, in terms of the mitigation that we need in order to bring down our own contribution which is very small. And then, eventually, trying to see what kind of loss and damage financing we need to cover especially for disaster risk.

KATRINA DOMINGO/ABS-CBN: Ma’am, follow up question. Do we have a ballpark figure as to how much the Philippines would actually need aside from the existing one billion PSF (People’s Survival Fund)?

DENR SEC. YULO-LOYZAGA: Thank you. The PSF really speaks to the needs directly of the local communities. When we started to do the calculations for the emissions reduction budget based on our nationally determined contributions and we started to do the National Adaptation Plan. Unfortunately, for us, this figure is in the trillions. We are not alone. Many of the small countries as well are also needing a great deal of assistance both for adaptation and mitigation.

And the real, I think, challenge for us, as well as the opportunity, is that DOF has been working very, very closely with all the different partners internationally to tailor our needs to the financing that needs to be made available.

So just to be clear, what we need to make available is not development financing – that is one track. There is climate financing now, as you know, there are bonds; there are different grants and subsidies. However, Loss and Damage Fund which is really for those losses and damages that are beyond our capacity is critical for this particular COP to actually make happen.

MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Secretary, would you be able to share with us if the top emitting countries are favorable towards funding the Loss and Damage Fund?

DENR SEC. YULO-LOYZAGA: At this point, there’s been a very contentious process. But in the spirit of cooperation, as you know, as we may know, a transitional committee, what they call a transitional committee was formed to address Loss and Damage Fund. And what will emerge from this committee and has emerged is really a declaration of principle and direction. Now, we need to operationalize.

So a great deal of support has been put towards the developed countries, really making themselves – how do I say – more accessible in terms of the contributions to this fund. There are many discussions that are ongoing; some are more inclined than others. However, we will really rely on our diplomatic, as well as our other kinds of relationships to the different countries to make sure that we can somehow encourage the contributions from developed countries.

What’s also important is, the Loss and Damage Fund may be broadly based. So not just the developed countries, there may be opportunities for the international financial organizations; there may be opportunities for private sector philanthropist to actually also contribute to this fund. All of this is part of what will be negotiated now in this COP.

MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: That’s great. Jean Mangaluz,

JEAN MANGALUZ/INQUIRER.NET: Good afternoon. Can we ask how will the Loss and Damage Fund visibly manifest the Filipinos?

DENR SEC. YULO-LOYZAGA: Thank you very much, Jean. In fact, for us, we hope … we hope, and this is where … all the negotiations still are ongoing, and that’s why it is extremely important for us to be present here. We hope that this will come in the form of additional social development funding, funding for resilient infrastructure so that in fact, we can in fact avoid the kind of destruction that we are already facing and have faced in the past. And therefore, that kind of infrastructure can support the different development priorities that are given to us under the PDP. Directly, the social part of it is the one that is most important. And that is why we need to actually work to negotiate the terms of the operationalization and what kind of financing would in fact be able to be availed of by the developing countries that are most climate vulnerable.

MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Okay. Ivan Mayrina, GMA 7.

IVAN MAYRINA/GMA 7: Hi, Secretary. Good afternoon. Like you said the contentious issues with regard to loss and damage is on the contributions. Which countries are supposed to contribute and by how much? What is the Philippines’ position on this, madam?

DENR SEC. YULO-LOYZAGA: Well, as you know, we have always ascribed to the principle of common but differentiated responsibility and respective capacity. So that is the underlying principle. So for us, developed countries should contribute to the Loss and Damage Fund, and those that are also high emitting. So that will be one of the principles.

Secondly, we are open to other sources of funding other than sovereign sources. And the real issue is, many of the developed countries themselves have their own priorities – and some of them are actually not in a great financial position as well. And so, what we are trying to do is make broadly-base financing – one of the approaches as well for the loss and damage fund so that we are not caught up by the sovereign arguments that they cannot afford it because they have other concerns and priorities in terms of their own financing for their own objectives ‘no.

So, as far as we are concerned, the principle of common but differentiated responsibility therefore that lies with the developed countries. However, we are open to broadening the sources – and that’s where the use of private sector funding, the use of innovative financing from the different international financial organizations is actually the most important as well.

IVAN MAYRINA/GMA-7: Ah, sorry. Ma’am, I’d like to take advantage of my turn to ask although this is domestic issue. I understand the two projects of the Pasay Eco-City Reclamation, has been given the green light already to resume reclamation activities. May we know the basis of this decision, ma’am?

DENR SEC. YULO-LOYZAGA: Ivan, thank you ‘no. Just to clarify for everyone. I said from the beginning, in fact to this group as well so I hope you will recall. There are two processes that the DENR is undertaking: The first one is the compliance review process ‘no – the compliance review process is taking a look at the ECC and the area clearances of all those that were given the ‘go ahead’ to see whether they have actually complied with the conditions. Some of the ECC in area clearance terms were given on certain conditionalities and so we are trying to in fact address the compliance to those conditionalities – not in the post, but now ‘no, in terms of the review process.

The second process, if you will recall, is the cumulative impact assessment – this is the scientific analysis needed in order for us to determine “What is the cumulative impact of all of these projects in terms of the fulfillment of the mandamus order by the DENR as the lead implementing agency.” So, what we are able to do is evaluate and assess compliance. We do not suspend, we do not lift the suspension – that is a matter for the PRA.

MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Okay. Jean again? Jean Mangaluz.

JEAN MANGALUZ/INQUIRER.NET: Hi, ma’am. I would like to follow up on Sir Ivan’s question. So, are you saying explicitly that these two projects, these two reclamation projects have passed these qualifications from the DENR?

DENR SEC. YULO-LOYZAGA: There were several technical conferences called because there were some findings and observations. And after they complied with what was required – documentation-wise and then review-wise as well, overall – the DENR actually submitted a report and they had in fact substantially complied.

MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Okay. Any other questions about COP28? Katrina, please.

KATRINA DOMINGO/ABS-CBN: Hi, ma’am. In 2021, the Philippines had set its NDC (Nationally Determined Contribution) to a 75% GHG (greenhouse gas). May we know how far we are at reaching that goal?

DENR SEC. YULO-LOYZAGA: So, the NDC actually provides for a reduction of 75% of our GHG emissions conditionally; and the second one will be the 25% which we were somehow… I will say committed to – that those figures actually just to recall didn’t come in 2021, they came much sooner. Those are figures that were released during the Aquino administration. So, what we are trying to do at this point is we’re doing a thorough review of our GHG inventory, looking at the implications as far as the implementation of what we will need to do as committed under the old figures – this 75/25, okay, and looking at the adaptation cost as well.

So here, we are at a point where we actually need to review the 75/25 as well. So, as far as our own performance, it has not really shifted – we remain at the levels that we were less than .5 of 1%.

MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Okay. Follow up?

KATRINA DOMINGO/ABS-CBN: Ma’am, for Asec. Teresa. Ma’am, you mentioned that the president will hold several bilateral meetings on the sidelines of COP28. May we know which countries have already confirmed these meetings with our president?

DFA ASEC. ALMOJUELA: At this point, these bilateral meetings are subject of consultations and I think we will have more clarity on which meetings will actually take place.

KATRINA DOMINGO/ABS-CBN: But around how many countries are we talking about?

DFA ASEC. ALMOJUELA: Maybe a dozen or more. Because some of these requests are made in the venue at the sideline so we’re not sure at this time. But we are, right now, we’re working on a dozen bilateral meetings for the president.

MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: You mentioned the sidelines and also Secretary Loyzaga, we have a pavilion you said. Could you tell us a little bit more about what side events you are planning?

DENR SEC. YULO-LOYZAGA: Yes, well, thank you very much, Daphne. You know, when we use the word “pavilion”, you know, I’d like to … it has a rather grand connotation. But we have a rather modest one – it’s just over a hundred square meters. And what we are able to do there is host side events, as I mentioned earlier. So the pavilion actually be opened by the president himself, and so we are very grateful for that because otherwise, we would not have the kind of attention we feel ‘no, in terms of what will go on in the pavilion.

So in the pavilion, there will be side events by the DOST which will be showcasing its own science and technology achievements in terms of climate data and risk governance. We have a number of events with the DOF, with Secretary Ben Diokno, actually, with panels consisting of our partners in the ADB and other financial organizations. We have DOE hosting a number of events. I believe there are four, if I’m not mistaken, on the energy day. We have the DA, also featuring sustainable agriculture and climate resilient agriculture. So DOH also has a number of events on health systems and climate. We have a number of nature-based panels that will also be at the side events, and DENR has taken a role in that.

All in all, there are 32 side events that will be held. Each day of the negotiations, there is a specific theme that the UNFCCC has outlined. So we have followed that theme. We also have several panels on gender and climate and resilience of women in particular. And there is a day for youth, as well. And so we do have a youth representative on the delegation.

MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Okay, thank you. Thank you, Secretary. Any other questions? Allan Francisco, PTV4.

ALLAN FRANCISCO/PTV4: Hi, Sec. Good afternoon. Philippines as a typhoon-prone country, how important for other countries who will attend the COP28 to listen to our positions on climate related matters?

DENR SEC. YULO-LOYZAGA: Thanks very much, that’s a great question. The Philippines is one of the climate vulnerable countries, so we are actually part also of the G77 – so the group of developing countries. I think it is extremely important for us to be heard by other countries because what we are trying to do at this point is really approach our climate resilience by twinning adaptation, mitigation and, I should say a third leg, the disaster risk reduction, and that will involve the social, economic, environmental and scientific efforts of our whole of government.

So what we have managed to do under this administration, because the president is one of those who have actually really supported the integration of climate into the different policy areas of the different departments and he understands the link between climate, biodiversity, pollution and sustainable development. These integrated messaging and the integrated approach that we are trying to now marshal as a country, we hope will inspire others as well.

And we have achieved some recognition on this, even on our work on oceans and biodiversity. We will be speaking at a number of panels, also side events of other organizers here at the COP. And particularly, they have asked DENR, myself, to speak on oceans and climate, on minerals and climate, especially this is a group that is led by the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative or EITI and, of course, a number of nature-based panels as well and, of course, in the innovative financing that needs to go into this work related to loss and damage and adaptation.

And so, there is recognition. I should add one particular effort that is also recognizing the work that’s being done in the Philippines, and it is the work on green shipping and how we might be able to support the reskilling and upskilling of our seafarers and those working in the energy sector. The DOE is a very strong partner here and leader, and we have been speaking in several forums especially about our seafarers and how they will need to be able to be reskilled and upskilled for the changes in the shipping industry.

So marami pong intersecting themes that we are also being asked to speak at; I will be speaking at about 10 different side events of others po on these different areas that they have recognized the Philippines to have made headway on. Salamat po.

MS. OSEÑA-PAEZ: Thank you. Anything else? We’re good? I think we’re done.

Thank you so much, Secretary Loyzaga, and we wish you all the best in representing our country being one of the most vulnerable to climate change. Napakaimportante nito para sa ating mamamayan dahil alam naman natin na tayo ang pinakanaaapektuhan ng pag-init ng mundo. So, we wish you all the best and thank you so much again, Secretary Loyzaga and Assistant Secretary Almojuela. Thank you.

Magandang hapon, Malacañang Press Corps. Thank you.