The adoption of the Paris Agreement (“the Agreement”) at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the UNFCCC on December 12, 2015 marks the latest step in the evolution of the UN climate change regime. It is a legally binding instrument to operationalize the UNFCCC starting with 2020-2025 as the first compliance period, thereby replacing the Kyoto Protocol, which took effect in 2005. The Philippines was among the 174 Parties to the UNFCCC (173 countries + the European Union) that signed the agreement at a high-level signature ceremony convened by the UN Secretary General in New York City. The Agreement will enter into force upon its ratification by 55 countries that account for at least 55% of global emissions.

The Agreement aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, mainly through the following means:

  1. Mitigation 
    Global peaking of emissions as soon as possible, in order to keep global
    temperature rise well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels or even further to 1.5°C. 
  2. Adaptation
    Support for adaptation efforts and needs, especially of
    developing countries most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change; and 
  3. Finance
    Developed countries to provide financial support to developing countries for both mitigation and adaptation, with the minimum collective goal of US$100 billion per annum.

At the heart of the Agreement is the concept of “nationally determined contributions” (NDC) whereby Parties to the Agreement commit to undertake and communicate increasingly ambitious efforts towards achieving the purpose of the Agreement. Previous decisions of the COP requested Parties to outline their contribution towards achieving the global climate goal through the “intended nationally determined contributions” (INDCs). Prior to the adoption of the Agreement, 188 Parties (including the Philippines), that collectively account for 98.6% of global emissions have submitted 160 INDCs). Upon joining the Agreement, Parties must submit their first NDC if they decide to do so, otherwise the submission of the INDC satisfies this requirement. The figure below shows the process and timeline for the submission and review of the NDC.

The Climate Change Commission (CCC) is the lead government agency in the preparation of the country’s NDC. International development agencies (“development partners”) have provided sustained support for the CCC to implement such a massive undertaking.

Overview of the INDC

On October 01, 2015, the Philippine submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change or UNFCCC. The Philippine INDC is premised on pursuing climate change mitigation as a function of adaptation. Box 1 below presents the salient features of the mitigation and adaptation components of the INDC.